Family Time: Quality vs. Quantity

For many families, schedules start to get busier this time of year. Not only is school starting back up, but so are all of the extracurricular activities that come along with it. Between football practice, piano lessons, AP exams and parents’ increased work schedules, the coming of the school year often means less time spent together for many families.

It’s easy for many parents to feel guilty about not spending enough time with their children.

And that makes sense. Because everyone knows that the best parents are the ones that spend the most time with their children. However, that might not actually be true.

It turns out, the quality of the time parents spend with their children has more of an influence on their well-being than the quantity.

In a recent longitudinal study published by the Journal of Marriage and Family, researchers found very little connection between the sheer amount of time parents spent with their kids and how their kids developed emotionally, academically and behaviorally. The research suggested that the quality of time spent together may be a better indicator of a child’s performance later in life.

The researchers even found some instances when more time spent with a parent actually had a negative influence on the children. For example, when parents were stressed, sleep-deprived, guilty or anxious.

In other words, spending a couple of hours with a calm and engaged parent might be better for your child than spending half the day with a parent who is stressed out, anxious and distracted.

Here are ways that you can focus on the quality of time you spend with your children:

  • Read together.
  • Share a meal together. (Without the television or other distractions around.)
  • Lowering your stress and anxiety by taking time to care for yourself (such as with exercise, sleep, etc.).
  • Come up with a healthy ritual to “decompress” after work.

What are some other ways that you can focus on the quality of the time you spend with your family instead of just the quantity?

Written by: GROW Staff