How To Have Quality Time With Your Kids
It can be easy, as a stay at home mom, to forget the significance of what you are doing.
In our modern busy-busy-busy, degreed, careered, materialistic, overcommitted society, it is easy to devalue the perfect normalcy of the simple everyday routine, and how that will sear warmth and joy and security into our children’s souls.
For example, studies continually show that sit-down meals as a family echo out for decades into a child’s future. That one action affects things like a child’s performance in school, likelihood to try drugs, and future obesity levels. The family dinner, that used to be a given in virtually every home, is now almost a radical act of cultural disobedience.
We are incomparably blessed as mothers.
There is no role in society like ours.
I am fairly confident that I could rival any supermodel in the amounts of flowers I’ve been given (if dandelions count), the number of smiles I’ve gotten, the number of times someone has clamored for my attention, and the number of compliments I’ve been given in my life. On the rare day when I wear a necklace to church, I’ll hear–multiple times over– some variation of: “I wike yo pitty neck-us mommy.”
Truly, it is a rich blessing to have precious uniquely-built souls looking to you, smiling at you, reaching out arms to you, with little hearts eager for your notice of their latest accomplishment. Each child watches and learn from mom about the world– and each child offers love with such open, tenderhearted affection.
Eternal significance oozes out of the pores of the pregnant mother.
Until this last century, every single human being knew it, and reverenced it.
As the pregnant woman nurtures a new life, she is brought near to the Creator– the giver of souls– and she watches as His creativity is revealed yet again right before her eyes:
- The miraculous first hours of wonder, awe, fear, and reverence with a new baby roll over into
- Sleepless nights, which roll over into
- A new normal as a family, which rolls over into
- Getting to know a new little blossoming personality, which rolls over into
- Following this little wandering soul around your house 24/7 because they’re too little to really understand words and rules and no-nos, but just big enough to be curious about everything and just risky enough to try to find out, which rolls over into
- Defiance and determination the likes of which you’re convinced the world has never seen, which rolls over into
- Figuring out house norms and rules together as parents and child, which rolls over into
- Repetitive daily life.
And it’s that last one that really seeps into all of the others.
It’s that last one– repetitive daily life– that can cause some mothers to think, “this is dull/unimportant/insignificant.”
It is easy to believe lies about what is significant.
We all want to believe that what we are doing is weighty.
We are bombarded by worshipful images and messages that communicate that career-minded workaholic women are to be admired. Society repetitively communicates to us that “me-time“, mani/pedis, perfect hair, and dream-chasing are where joy, dignity, and value will be found.
Scant few of us have witnessed, at an age we can remember it, a determined, devoted, disciplined mother loving and serving and joyfully, productively passing days alongside her children.
(Psst. Even though you may not have seen an example of the kind of mother your child needs for you to be, you are utterly irreplaceable in the life of your child. You are one of a kind, and God has uniquely fitted you for the position He’s put you in as a mother. What’s more, this is the one crack at life that you– and your child– get.)
Last night I went out to finish up the project that has taken up my extra time for weeks– the one where I bit off more than I can chew and yet here I am, still chewing, and miraculously it’s coming along like I hoped it would– building the chicken coop.
I walked out to the workshop alone, and brought my phone and earbuds so I could listen to a sermon and have a little down time.
But almost immediately after I walked into the workshop, I heard the door open and close behind me.
Baxter (my 9-year-old) asked if he could help build the coop. So moments later, we were nailing reclaimed boards up for siding on my blueprint-less chicken coop when he said, “it’s amazing that you can just think up and do something like this, ya know?”
(While I’d like to let his comment hang in ambiguity so that you all would think he was saying that about me, I should clarify that he was saying this about the universal “you,” as in, “it’s amazing that a person can just think up and do something like this.”)
So then Baxter and I shared an inspiring-to-me exchange about how God has made us humans creative, like Him, and how incredible it is– the things we can accomplish, when we put our minds to it. I told him how excited I was to see what God would give him to think up and do in his lifetime.
Those moments just happen. And we can’t script them.
They are the overflow. Special moments of encouragement, conversation, and soul-building are what happens as time marches on and the little days with infants roll over into exhausting days spent training toddlers to be pleasant and abide by rules, which roll over into enjoyable days spent with older children.
THE TRUTH ABOUT QUALITY TIME
The truth about quality time… and I hesitate ever-so-slightly to say it because I wish you could hear my heart in it… but the truth about quality time is this:
Quality time is a myth made up by busy people.
Quality time is experienced in the unexpected moments that crop up during quantity time.
And we instinctively know this to be true, because we experience it in our other relationships and areas of life.
When we have a mad-dash crammed-full-of-relatives holiday, we don’t feel that we’ve suddenly gotten to know their hearts and seen a glimpse of their souls. We’ve gotten a quick-and-dirty update. We’ve seen their pretty, cleaned-up-like-it-won’t-be-for-the-rest-of-the-year house, and they’ve seen us in our well-chosen outfit that hides our postpartum fat rolls as best we are able. We’ve all stuffed ourselves with food and information, and we go home full but not truly satiated.
We know it when we take a May-term class and get the “gist” of the class, but miss out on the regular interactions with a wise professor that shape our souls in unexpected and foundational ways. The 3-week quick version simply can not provide the same experience that a semester-long, week-in, week-out class provides.
A fast food meal, passed through a window, fills the belly, but does not in any way compare to a sit-down meal, cooked by the home or restaurant chef, accompanied by good conversation and time to laugh and relax.
When we finally meet “the one,” we ache to be together. One date every so often would not produce the kind of relationship that satisfies… no, sometimes it is difficult to even say goodbye at night (even when we know we’ll see each other early the next morning). We long to KNOW and be KNOWN… our souls long to connect with another human being in intimate, satisfying, mutually beneficial, secure ways.
The truth we all know is that quality time happens in beautiful, unplanned moments of quantity time.
What have you experienced in your family? What do you think about the quality/quantity time dichotomy?
Hourglass image by Salvatore Vuoto/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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