Parent-Child Quality Time

New mothers tend to spend as much time as possible with their babies. But sooner or later every mother discovers that it is possible to be together with the kid all day long without even noticing him or her. On the other hand, there are days when you only spend half an hour together - but what a halfhour it is! The more mature a mum gets the more fully she realizes that what really matters in her relationship with the child is not the amount of time spent together but its quality.

Kids spell love T-I-M-E. (John Crudele)

I wouldn't dare argue with the author. I would only add it should not be just any time - it should be QUALITY TIME.

The phrase "quality time" is a relatively new expression which has been in use since the 1970s. According to Wikipedia,

Quality time is an informal reference to time spent with close family, partners or friends that is in some way important, special, productive or profitable. It is time that is set aside for paying full and undivided attention to the person or matter at hand. It may also refer to time spent performing some favorite activity.

Although the definition is quite clear and comprehensive, it is no wonder each family understands the concept differently. Here is a very neat and penetrating article I really enjoy:


More parents are working out of the home and may have less time to spend with their children. What's most important is the quality of the time spent together, whether it's two hours or an entire day, that time should be enjoyable, worthwhile and precious.

The time you spend with your child differs from day to day. If your time is limited, you might find it helpful to set aside a certain time of the day for the child. Children, like most of us, prefer to have a schedule. You might say, "After dinner, from six to seven, will be our time alone." In this way the child can look forward to that special time.

During this time alone you could:

  • Play with your child, letting him choose the activity.
  • Talk with your child and really listen to her ideas and feelings.
  • Share a hobby or special interest with the child.
  • Read a book together.
  • Exercise together.
  • Take a walk around your neighborhood.
  • Visit a playground, park or library.

Foundations for future parent-child relationships are established very early. Try to keep this special time "special" by not allowing interruptions. This special time should be fun and enjoyable for both the parent and the child.

You don't have to always play with children to have quality time. Young children want to be able to do things that are important and they want to be good at something. A child who sees parents busy around the home wants to join in and be part of the family. Giving guidance will enable him or her to do a job correctly and foster self-confidence.

Here are some simple chores you can share with your child:

  • Fold towels and washcloths.
  • Match socks.
  • Sort laundry in piles according to color or owner.
  • Measure laundry soap in cup.
  • Help prepare meals: peel carrots, measure ingredients, wash vegetables.
  • Water and take care of plants.

You probably know some of your child's individual interests. Spend time getting to know your child better and learning about his/her likes and dislikes. You may want to introduce something completely new to your child, like cooking or coin collecting. Share your own interests with your son or daughter. Talk about your own childhood and how things were different and the same.

You may feel that you don't know enough about certain things, like playing a musical instrument, to teach your child. Why not learn along with your child? It's good for children to see that their parents don't know everything.

Quality time can include reading and storytelling. Reading a book together is one of the most satisfying and stimulating experiences adults and children can share. Books open doors for new ideas and interests and for parent-child discussions about important issues. Reading and storytelling, accompanied by closeness and hugging, offers a special kind of intimacy that is hard to match.

Parents and school-age kids can also play cards and board games together. Keep the spirit of fun in the forefront by minimizing winning and losing.

Watching television together is okay when both parent and child are too tired for talking or playing. However, television is no substitute for parent-child interactions and should generally be turned off during quality time or together time.

Remember, it is not the quantity of time spent with your children, but the quality of time that is spent together that is important.

Source: Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County

Some more ideas come from a very short yet useful article which I find very much to the point:


American pianist Michael Levine says, "Having children makes you no more a parent than having a piano makes you a pianist." To be an effective parent and have a healthy family, you need to spend time together. A number of families have found creative ways to do this so they can connect in meaningful, positive ways.

  • Designate a regular family time as part of your routine. Some families have a weekly family night. Others have a monthly family outing. Others have a daily family check-in during dinner or before bed. Figure out a routine that works for you and your family.
  • Have fun together. Do activities that make you laugh and enjoy being together. Some families play sports together. Others tell jokes. Others have special nights for watching movies or playing board games.
  • Get your kids’ input on how to spend family time. You may be surprised to learn that they want your family to get out more—or stay home more. Kids often have good ideas.
  • If you belong to a faith community, go to services together as a family. Participate in family-friendly events, such as family volunteering.
  • Eat meals together as a family.
  • Your family often will bond more if you can get out of the house and do something together where you don’t know other people. Take a trip to another city, suburb, or county and discover what’s there. Go to a sporting event or a play. Visit a free museum. Spend some time in the park playing catch. Explore a playground across town.

All parents want to spend time with their kids—but it can be easy to lose sight of that sometimes. Make accommodations in your life so you can spend quality time with your children on a regular basis.

Source: "Parent Further"

Genevieve Simperingham, a parent coach and holistic counsellor from "Peaceful Parent Institute", draws the readers' attention to a problem to which quality time is a solution. Here is how she puts it:

Genevieve.jpgMost parents of young children struggle to varying degrees with their child's huge, and what can seem insatiable, need for their attention. When our children are little, the demands on our time, energy and patience can feel so overwhelming. The image comes to mind of how toddlers so often take the face of their mum or dad in their little hands and literally pull the parent's head to face them despite (or because of!) their parent being deeply engrossed in a conversation with a friend. Our child's demands on our attention can touch deeply on our own unmet needs for the attention of those closest to us, our partner, our parent, our close friends.

On the other hand, parents of teenagers often struggle with their teenager's disinterest in spending time with the parent, with the family in general. Parents can, understandably, feel rejected, powerless and shut out when their teen seems to want to spend most of their time with their peers, or if at home, they lock themselves in their room for hours on end, or choose to chat with friends on their laptop, the phone or spend hours texting.

Many parent of teens regret not spending more quality time with their kids when they were younger when their child still both craved their attention and demanded it. Parents of young children can feel trapped by the unending needs of their child. So how can we get the balance?

Children crave quality time with their parents because they have such a deep innate and healthy drive for that attention. When a parent can carve out the time, which isn't always easy in a parent's busy life, to spend quality time with their child, there's a kind of magic that happens as the parent's attention really moves in to the world of their child. When we put all else aside and really surrender to entering into our child's world, at whatever age, it's as if our eyes open wider, our hearts open wider, we really hear what our child is saying, we really feel what they are feeling, we share their excitement, we reenter the world of imagination, we are reminded of the beauty of their innocence, we get to share those magic moments. As our child experiences our full attention, they draw from us whatever they need to learn, to strengthen, to grow and to develop their full potential.

You will find answers to all your questions in Genevieve's article "Quality one on one time with your child".

And there is one more aspect of parent-child relationship that has to be taken into consideration. There are parents who are used to substituting presents for time spent with their kids. In other words, their quality time consists of bying their children things. According to the article "Quality time is what matters most to your kids", it is a very risky position for such parents develop a sense of entitlement in their children and in time their children do not want to spend time with a parent if that parent isn't spending money on them. But even if you're on the wrong track, you can still take some action to make things look up:

In terms of self-esteem, like a good relationship, it cannot be bought. Self-esteem is also a by-product, most notably, of a good parent-child relationship. Those parents who concentrate on developing a good relationship with their kids through spending time, not money, tend to have kids with better self-esteem. These kids learn that they must be of value; otherwise, their parents wouldn’t spend so much time with them. They also learn that it is the relationship that matters, not the purchases.

If you feel that spending quality time with your child costs money, take a good look. It may be that you are building your relationship on the basis of purchases. Your child may even be fueling that fire by making you feel guilty for not buying them things. Know that if you give in, then for sure, you will only be valued for what you bring.

Instead of bringing "things," continue to bring yourself, and let that be joyful, entertaining and caring. Spend time with your kids listening to on another and doing things together.

Remember, when you tell a baby "cootchy-coo," he looks at you. Buy him a toy and he looks at the toy. Ask yourself, "Do I want my child to have a relationship with me or the toy?"

Now get on the floor and play. That's real quality time.

Source: ""

As for me, I think quality time is not about WHAT you're doing together - it is about being INVOLVED in what you're doing.

And what is parent-child quality time for you?

Zelya аватар

I first learnt about quality time while reading Gary Chapman's book "Five love languages". So for me quality time is not about doing something together, it is about giving my undivided attention to my daughter. It can be a short period of time, but she knows that during that time all my thoughts are about our being together and not about work or household chores. So when she needs it, I do my best to stop the train of my thoughts and concentrate on her needs 100%. She doesn't expect me to be with her all the time, but when she wants to share something I can't pretend that I'm listening and continue doing what I was doing. 98% of my attention will not work for her. Sometimes it takes only 15-30 minutes a day, but she will feel loved the rest of the day, because she knows that I care.

admin Olga-ekb аватар

I've heard a lot about this book but haven't read it yet. And I like the way you understand quality time.

shilko аватар

In my case quality time would mean my eldest son and myself - playing somewhere just the two of us. I often like to think that we have just had some 15 minutes of quality time together, while the little one is nearby watching us or playing on his own. But the thing is once he cries out or anything I will turn to him and let go the game, and I'm sure Ivan feels that. That's why I always have to seek periods of time when we can be alone, which is not very easy these days. But I can clearly see how it is important and nurtures my almost 3 year old.

admin Olga-ekb аватар

Olya, I wonder if mothers of big families make it a point to spend quality time with each one of their children. In fact it's an interesting question I'd like to look into.