Everyone knows the phrase “time is money,” but what does it really mean? It means that time, like money, is a resource. We even use the verb spend when we talk about both time and money. We also say that we invest time and that time is valuable.
So what makes time “quality?”
What Does it Look Like to Spend Quality Time with Your Family and with Others?
We all like to have nice things, but for most of us, experiences are more memorable. If I ask my kids what they got for Christmas when they were eight, they probably won’t remember, but if I ask them about our trips to the zoo or a live show we saw at the theater, they’ll recall those memories easily.
Spending time with another person means that you are investing in the relationship. We are demonstrating to the other person that they are valuable and that we want to deepen our connection to them. Our time with others doesn’t necessarily have to be an outing or big event; we can make small moments quality time if we’re mindful about it.
When we spend time with our kids, we are showing them that they matter. Every game we attend, dinner we make together, or practice we drive them to shows that they are worth our time. We make those moments even more quality when we truly engage with our kids. No one wants to be a burden so if you complain about having to run your kids around or do chores, it makes them feel like they’re taking away from your good life experience. Reframe your thinking to view your interactions as opportunities to spend time with these amazing people and help them grow into their potential.
It’s also important that you show your kids how to spend quality time with others. This will help foster the valuable skill of empathy. It is important that you demonstrate how to spend quality time so that your kids can spend quality time with others.
Who Do We Spend This Time With?
Now that we know how important it is for building and deepening relationships, with whom should we spend time? We should include our families, but we can spend quality time with nearly anyone. Depending on how old your kids are, you might have to come alongside them to help facilitate these moments, or they may be able to do some of this on their own.
For example, your child could call Grandma or Uncle John and instead of just trying to “get through” the phone call, s/he could ask Grandma about what she did last week or talk to Uncle John about his job or a hobby. Maybe there are some things they have in common like supporting a sports team that could be an opening for conversation.
You might encourage your child to talk to your neighbors. Maybe you have an older person who lives near you who might appreciate someone checking in on them. You could do this with your child or if the child is comfortable, perhaps s/he could visit the neighbor. Perhaps you can suggest that your child asks the neighbor how things have changed since they were young or what their family was like growing up.
School is another place where children can practice reaching out to one another. Perhaps there’s a new kid, so encourage your child to invite him or her to the lunch table. Maybe offer some conversation starters like asking the new kid about his family or about her previous school.
There are many people who would appreciate someone taking just a little bit of time for a visit or a check in. Often people don’t feel heard, and they appreciate someone taking some time to talk or to do something meaningful.
How Do I Create More Opportunities to Spend Quality Time with Loved Ones?
So how do you approach this topic with your kids and how do you make it happen? First, as with many of the activities we suggest at HAPPÉ, model the behavior. If your kids see you simply going through the motions to “get through” the day, they are going to see that you aren’t spending much quality time with them or anyone else.
We’re all busy, but if we’re mindful about how we’re moving through our busy-ness, we can create space and opportunities for quality time. Car rides back and forth to games or school can provide time for a chat. Even if your child doesn’t engage much with the conversation, after weeks and months of you attempting to engage and showing genuine interest in his/her life, the message will get through. Go deeper than questions like “how was your day?” to “what was the best thing you learned today?” or “name one way you connected with someone at school.” Asking meaningful questions and being present in the moment is the best way to convert a simple errand to quality time.
There are also events that we plan. Your family can schedule an outing once a week or once a month. You can share a meal a few times a week or even more. The rule at our house is “no phones at the table” and there isn’t a television on the same floor where we eat. The removal of distractions fosters an environment of quality time and authentic conversation.
Then there are opportunities for your child to spend quality time outside of the family. Depending on the age and personality of your child, you might have to help brainstorm about who s/he will spend time with and what they will do. Perhaps you will go with them when they spend the time together. It could be a simple conversation with someone in the neighborhood, volunteering at an assisted living facility, taking grandma out to lunch, or inviting someone different to your house to play.
The key to making time quality isn’t so much about what you do or the amount of time you spend, but how you spend it and how deeply you engage. As human beings, we all want to be heard and seen and when you learn how to spend quality time with others, you will help them and yourself.
At H-A-P-P-Ē.Life we have created programs to support the continuous development of your psychological health and well-being. We are dedicated to helping provide you with the means to navigate life more fully and successfully through fun programs aimed at you and your child’s social, emotional and mental health. The Mission I’m Possible series are short videos designed to teach kids lessons about self-awareness and relationship development. To sign up for the Mission I’m Possible series at no charge, click here. They’re enjoyable activities you can do together as a family that impart valuable skills.