We are busy working mothers. At any one time there are several plates to be spun. Your day starts at silly o’clock and you can’t even remember when you go to bed but it is somewhere between the laundry and packing the school bag for the next day.

Finding quality time to spend with your children is challenging. Why does it have to be quality time anyway? Isn’t it enough that you are there, they can see you and you can jump to their aid at any time?

The 3 distinct views of what is considered quality time by different families as per research are:

  • Planned family activities
  • Heart-to-heart talks with their children
  • All the time they spent with family is quality time

From my point of view, quality time is time spent with your child when they know it is all about them; planned or unplanned. Nothing else is distracting you, nothing else takes priority and if there is an interrupter, you make sure they know this is sacred time with your child and the interrupter just has to wait their turn. Before you ask, the answer is no, you don’t take that call from your boss!

If you find time like that, where you are wholly available to your child, you send several signals to them.

  1. You matter as human being
  2. You are important to me
  3. Your needs are worthy of my attention

That is how you build robust self-esteem in them. Incidentally that is also how they learn about boundaries so that if they want your time and it is not a good time and you tell them no, they are confident that when it is their time, you will not allow anyone to interrupt.

It doesn’t take that much to be able to communicate all this to a child, all that it takes is a parent’s undivided attention and believe it or not the duration of that attention is not what is important here. it doesn’t have to be some special manufactured activity in the Swiss Alps either.

Some parents who are time poor think they can never find quality time, but that time that you spend cooking together where it is just the two of you focused on a shared task; that is quality time. That time they spend with Dad mowing the lawn where they are taught how to push the lawnmower properly, that is quality time. The time spent packing the contents of the school bag together (rather than mum doing it tired, on her own, on the way to bed), that is quality time.

You have to live anyway, and there are lots and lots of everyday activities and chores that you do, that have to be done anyway. Why not turn these into quality moments? You can turn household chores into self-esteem defining time with your children and kill two birds with one stone. There is no need to go looking for some additional magical time out of some other 24 hours that you don’t have.

If you think about it, all that your children are asking for is exclusive time with you. The form that time takes doesn’t really matter. For some bizarre reason parents tend to think when it comes to quality time, only special activities qualify. That is the pressure that you are putting on yourself. Your kids aren’t. For example when my kids tell me of their special memories, it is normally what I think of as the mundane that actually sticks with them. It was when I used to walk them to school when they were little. Admittedly that time to me felt like such a chore but to them it was all the little stops along the way, the people we saw, pushchair getting stuck in the mud, playing ‘chase’ with each other and me shouting at them to not run too far ahead, those are the moments that are stuck in their heads. The walk to school took all of twenty minutes but I was there, present and engaged. Exclusively theirs.