What is quality time? According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, it is: “time spent giving all of one’s attention to someone who is close” You may be thinking “um…but aren’t I spending all my time with people who are close right now?” Yes, but I want to encourage you to think about what that time looks like and how quality time might be different. As I write this, I’m wondering if spending quality time with the people we are in contact with may be even more important right now. With many of us working from home, there is sometimes little distinction between work time and play time.
Anyone else answering work emails while playing with their kid? In my experience, these moments are sometimes necessary but are often frustrating for everyone involved. Or maybe you aren’t writing emails, but your mind is thinking about what you’ll say in your 2:00 meeting. Again, you may need to be with your child and plan for your meeting at the same time, I get that (I really do!) However, it’s important that there are times when your child, your partner, and, even yourself get your undivided attention. While my toddler lets me know in no uncertain terms when I’m not paying enough attention to him, an older child or partner may be more subtle. Here are a few things to look out for and ideas for connecting.
With your Kids
Signs you child could benefit from some quality time with you:
- They appear easily frustrated when you need to complete a task
- They seem to need your help with everything, including tasks you know they can do themselves
- They repeatedly do things that require you to stop what you are doing and attend to them, even if it’s to tell them to stop
- You are feeling annoyed, irritated, worried or guilty
Tips for quality time with kids
- Turn off your phone and play with your kids…it doesn’t matter if they’re 2 and want to build towers and knock them down or 15 and want to play video games or do a craft project.
- Let your child choose an activity they want to share with you or brainstorm a list of activities together and take turns picking something off the list.
- Be curious—ask open-ended questions like “what do you like most about this song?” “How do you feel about that?” “What are you most looking forward to?”
- For young children, plan for at least 10 minutes a day. For older children, try a minimum of 30 minutes once a week of focused “special time.” Teens may appreciate less frequent but longer stretches of time.
- Check out this post for some fun activities to do with kids during quarantine.
With your Partner
Signs your relationship could use some attention:
- You’re bickering often over “small stuff“
- You or your partner feels disconnected
- You’re having frequent miscommunications
- It’s been a while since you had a date night or spent one-on-one time together without distractions
Tips for quality time with your partner
- If possible, find a time when you won’t be interrupted by kids or work (and turn your phone off!)
- Schedule a date night. You may not be able to go to your favorite restaurant, but you can order take-out and watch a movie, go for a walk, play a game, or have a picnic in your backyard.
- Set aside 10 minutes before bed each night to check in about your day or cuddle.
- Accomplish something together. This could be a house project, a puzzle, a new fitness routine, or whatever suits your interests.
- Download one of these apps or read this blog post to learn more about each other and get ideas for strengthening your relationship.
Signs you could use some attention:
- You’re easily frustrated or feel irritable and on edge
- You notice you’re holding tension in your body
- You feel drained (physically, emotionally, mentally)
- You feel anxious, worried, sad, agitated
Tips for quality time with yourself:
- Find a space that feels good to you. If you don’t have one, try to create a cozy, calming atmosphere by lighting a candle, wrapping up in a blanket, or designating a corner of your room as your calming area. You can add cushions, a comfy chair, favorite pictures or an essential oil diffuser.
- If you live with other people, tell them you need some to yourself and to not disturb you unless it’s an emergency (of course, if you’re alone with young children you may need to time this for their nap time or after they’re in bed).
- Take a walk and just notice how your body feels, the thoughts you’re having, feelings that come up. Try to notice these things without judgement. Check out this post for some mindfulness tips and tricks.
- Journal, paint, or do something else creative.
- Read a book, listen to music, or watch a show that makes you feel good.
- Avoid doing chores, answering emails, or working during this time!
It doesn’t so much matter what you do, but that you set aside time to be truly present, whether it’s with yourself, your children, your partner, or anyone else. Just enjoying each other can help deepen your connection and bring a greater sense of peace and belonging during this unpredictable time.
“Connection is why we’re here; it is what gives purpose and meaning to our lives.”Brene Brown