I Had An Epiphany About Quality Time With My Kids

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Yesterday, I had the pleasure of being invited to participate on SAfm Afternoon talk with Nikki Bush, discussing 21st Century motherhood and the challenges we face as busy, working mom’s, how it’s changed our parenting and the struggles we face daily. 

The struggle is real you guys, but I’m sure you know that. As a working mother, I constantly feel like I’m giving away pieces of myself to everyone and everything around me, with very little to keep for myself and the guilt, at times is overwhelming. I feel guilty when I’m at work and I know one of my children needs or wants me, I feel guilty when I’m racing out of work because one of my children needs me and I can’t give my employer the time they need from me. As a working mom, I often feel left out (of my own doing) from the fun at the office, mostly because when everyone decides to have an impromptu gaming and beer session on a Friday afternoon at 4pm at the office, I have to be racing out of their to ensure I’m home by 4:30pm to relieve our nanny. It’s a constant juggling act and I often feel overwhelmed by the number of balls I’m juggling at any given time.

I also find that arriving home, and switching gears from working woman to mom difficult. My children are always happy to see me and weave around me, demanding my attention from before I’ve even removed my key from the ignition of my car, filling my ears with stories of what happened at school and demanding my attention on their latest art project or the like. And really, most days, all I want is to go to the toilet, on my own, and take a moment to catch my breath and switch into mom mode before being bombarded with the needs of my children.

Does that make me sound horrid?

During the radio interview yesterday, we were discussing the importance of quality time that builds bonds with our children. Nikki was talking about the importance of building that emotional bond now, while our children are still young, so that we can effectively parent them as teenagers when they become way more willful and less likely to bond with us, if that bond is not already formed.

Khanyi, the radio presenter, asked me how I ensured that I spent quality time with my girls and honestly, I felt so lame when I told her that quality time for us is often really just doing mundane every day things together, some of our favorites include:

Washing the car together (what my husband and children were doing while I was being interviewed)

Having the girls sit at the kitchen table and chat to me while I cook our supper

Baking together, although I do the baking and they mostly lick the bowls and throw on the sprinkles

Building puzzles together

Getting them to help me pack their lunches

Eating together

Reading stories 

And one of our favorites – Friday night braai night, where we hand out on the patio together, listening to music and dancing together

It all sounded so mundane and I felt awkward sharing it. But really money is tight and time is in short supply so we rarely have an opportunity to do extravagant things together. 

But then Nikki mentioned something which made me feel a whole lot better. She was saying how new research is showing that children are being raised almost institutionalized these days, with the pressure on modern parents and work schedules, more and more parents are sending their children away from the home for quality experiences and time. That the average modern parent spends 3 hours a day with their child and that given the shortages of time, the best way to form emotional and lasting bonds with our children is by doing exactly what I have been doing. 

That getting children involved in household tasks as part of quality time is not only cherished by kids later on, but also teaches them valuable life lessons and forms a bond. So even if it’s going to take 5 minutes more to make my bed because my 3 year old wants to help me, it’s an important activity for her and it’s an opportunity to have some quality time together during an otherwise hectic day.

It was also interesting for me to learn that quality time far outweighs quantity time. So if time is in short supply, but you can be in the moment and in that space with your child, even if it’s for only 20 minutes, its an opportunity to nurture that emotional bond.

Do you also struggle with the challenges of modern parenting? Are you also overcome with guilt about fitting in quality time with your child? What activities do you do in your household to get a few minutes of quality bonding time together? 

I had such an A-ha moment yesterday afternoon, after the radio interview, I’m doing ok. My guilt is a completely wasted emotion, my children are ok, they are emotionally attached to me and we manage to get in a bit of quality time in everyday. 

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16 Comments

  • Reply Sally

    Wow thanks for this! I am also a full time working mom with two kids and it is a constant juggling act, rushing rushing always rushing. I’ve always made an effort to leave work at 4pm (which is unheard of in my profession) and be there for dinner time, bath time and other day to day activities but it often feels like I am not doing enough… this is a great reminder!

    May 3, 2016 at 11:59 am
    • Reply Sharon

      You’re doing just fine Sally! Hang in there…. the struggle is real!

      May 3, 2016 at 12:12 pm
  • Reply Natalie Jorgensen

    That’s exactly right!! We have a 5 year old boy full of energy and recently started hiking. We love the kloofendal nature reserve and entrance is free!

    May 3, 2016 at 1:26 pm
  • Reply Cassey Toi

    Just like you our quality time is done while we’re doing the day-to-day.

    May 3, 2016 at 4:51 pm
  • Reply ChevsLife

    I’m with you on quality time as oppose to quantity. I too find myself rushing around, but my son told me he really enjoys that I can walk him to school in the morning (10-15 minutes), this is where we really spend uninterrupted one-on-one time. It makes a big difference to our day.

    May 3, 2016 at 5:03 pm
  • Reply Michelle

    Does nt make you sound horrid at all Sharon, just human! I m not a parent but desperately need 20 min to decompress when getting home after the day. It’s just a human thing! Xx

    May 3, 2016 at 5:14 pm
  • Reply Jodie

    It sounds like you do PLENTY with your kids – good on you mama! I often say to my husband that kids are happy with the smallest of things and that could be something as small as going to the park…for free! It’s so easy to try and do things that cost money and spend too much unnecessarily and as you say, the budget is tight. I think you’re being very hard on yourself but we’ve all been there xxx

    May 4, 2016 at 7:31 am
  • Reply Natalie

    You are so right! Thank you for reminding us all!

    May 4, 2016 at 12:11 pm
  • Reply Tandi Robertson

    Thanks! It is so reassuring that I am not alone out there 🙂

    May 4, 2016 at 3:52 pm
  • Reply Laura

    Yip I let this go a long time ago. Every night the big kids, David and I watch Modern Family or something – we don’t often talk about anything but just enjoy the time together without the crazy babies!

    We take the time we can get – car drives, school events, cleaning the lounge after a long weekend 🙂 It is what it is.

    May 5, 2016 at 11:23 am
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