Quality time versus quantity of time…a parenting dilemma

Quality of time versus quantity of time, it’s a dilemma I face with regards to my kids more specifically the 6 year old, even though it’s been known to rear its head even with the 20 year old. As a mother who happens to hold another job aside from the mom role outside of the house, I always feel like I am on the tightrope with regards to quality and quantity of time lately as I have become more active in taking time for me outside of my worker bee and mom roles, that tightrope has gotten even tighter.

The past few weeks have been hectic professionally as I start ramping up for program changes and have entered my least favorite time of year…grant writing and begging. As a result I know my attention has been scattered at home and a few days ago decided to take a few mental health days where I decided to not work and just be present with my family. A funny thing happened though, here I was all prepared to hang out with my daughter and frankly she just wasn’t feeling me. I spent two days being present, picking her up from school one day to have a tea party at a local bakery, something she had requested. Of course it was during the heat wave, so the bakery really wasn’t comfortable and the kid didn’t want tea.

I figured I would try again the next day and made the decision to switch some plans around so that Friday we could engage in a little baking time as we prepared for the Spousal Unit’s birthday and then followed up with something she had asked me about…make our own pizza night. A slightly better response but still not quite the mom-kid bond fest I had hoped for but the weekend got better, granted it happened when I was less mentally present and you know what? That’s okay.

Last night before I unplugged for the evening, I came across a twitter conversation about raising kids and the balancing act and saw a discussion on quality of time versus quantity of time. I think this is something many parents grapple with especially in the SAHM versus WOHM path. Yet as a parent who has an older (adult) child, I found myself wondering how many of us give our kids what they need? Or frankly even what they want?  In the past, I have always tried to have high quality time, yet both of my kids to varying degrees frankly are more interested in quantity of time. I have tried to ignore that fact, but for us it’s our truth. The 6 year old is far more happy on days when I am home when she comes home from school and even if we are not directly engaging, she just likes knowing I am here should she want to engage with me. Same thing for college boy, when he is home, we often will do things, but our best connections always seem to happen late at night generally when I am heading to bed and we end up talking for hours.

I personally prefer quality time, for me when I am in a place where I am fully present and engaging with my kids, and maybe it’s because deep down I know quality of time feels better to me when I am short on actual time. Yet in 20 years of parenting, I am becoming more and more convinced that just as we raise our kids, our kids raise us and gently shape our parenting path based off what they need and want.

In the end it matters not what we choose, it matters most that we meet our kid’s needs, as for me, I am thankful I have a job that allows me flexibility to give the quantity of time when it’s most needed.