Quantity Time

Back when the idea of  kids growing up in day-care was still fairly fresh, one of the mantras of the movement was that kids really just need quality time with their moms, not quantity time.  As long as they were given a super deluxe Saturday each week with some incredible vacations at theme parks sprinkled in, then you were allowed to vote yourself a fine parent.

But the truth is, that’s a big fib. Kids need quality time all right, but they need tons and tons and tons of it. They are actually little bottomless pits, hungry for time with Mom all day long. And if they don’t have access to their parents, they will look for attention elsewhere, of course. They’re not dumb.

So while you are gazing at that laundry pile that Bekah so artfully displayed for us (I’m keeping her out of my closets and cupboards), take heart. Your kids need you. There is no substitute; not even Nana. That doesn’t mean that they need you to be gazing into their eyes all day long. But they need to know you are in shouting distance,  that you are listening to them while you are slapping the pb on with the j.  Having you on the premises to cheer for their tricky somersault or to speak to them about how they are talking to their sister is exactly what they need. They eat it up with a spoon. That is quality time. And they need it spread on thick.

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23 thoughts on “Quantity Time

  1. That is a good and encouraging word. What a timely message to young mothers such as myself!

  2. It might be too big a can o’ worms to open up here in the comments section, but can you explain how these principles fit with sending our kids to Christian day school (which we do)?

    If leaving my four-year-old at day care (which I don’t) for 8 hours a day is the result of worldly lies, how can it then become a positive good to leave my 6-year-old at Christian school for 7 hours a day?

    Is it just the child’s age that makes the difference? Does my 6-year-old not need me cheering for his feats on the playground? If even Nana can’t be a real substitute for mom, at what point and why does the recess duty teacher become an acceptable substitute? Thanks!

  3. Thank you for this encouragement, Mrs. Wilson!

    Homeschooling is such a huge commitment – especially of time, and especially as the kids get older and the work takes longer. Sometimes I wonder why my children aren’t sick of me. :) But no, they all want me – usually 2 or 3 of them at the same time – and the 14 year old boy is just as hungry and eager to tell me about the dazzling variety of airsoft guns he’s been reading about, as the 3 year old is to have me read her this story (again), or the twins are to have me watch their ballet “show”, the 9 year old who can’t wait to tell me about his imaginary battles, the 10 year old who wants me to eat breakfast with her every morning, or the 12 year old who tells me lovingly she just wants to be near me.

    Me?
    Little old me?
    Life-of-the-party me?

    It’s humbling.

    Thank you for the reminder – to be thankful at all times (and to keep having time) for my little treasures.

  4. I am eager to hear a response to Hannah’s question. Very good question, by the way.

    And good reminder on quantity AND quality time Mrs. W. :)

  5. Thank you so much for the reminder! Sometimes I forget that me just being home with them everyday is a big tank-filler-upper in and of itself. Not that we shouldn’t add in those extra-special times (train rides at our local zoo/park are a fav), but sharing all the everyday doings are so very special too.

  6. Thank you. This is easy to forget in the busyness and bustle of all that needs to be done in a day. How easy to be frustrated and see it as “agh! I can’t get anything done here because I keep getting interrupted” rather than soaking it up and enjoying them. There’s always something else to be done, but they grow up so quickly. What a wonderful reminder!

  7. Hannah,
    Good question. As you know, we have nine grandkids in Logos School, where their parents went before them, and which their grandfather helped establish on their behalf. So we are pretty die-hard fans of dear old Logos School. We never viewed school as babysitting; far from it! (Logos is intentionally structured so that it cannot be used as a daycare.) But even if you opt for a private Christian school, Mom should still be tuned in, actively engaged in the whole process, and not just on the weekends. That means getting them off in the a.m., packing them “way-good” lunches, helping in their classes, driving them to and fro, meeting them at the door with a fun after-school snack, and helping them with their homework. In our case, it also meant teaching some of the classes. (And just so the rest of you know, I also had the pleasure of teaching Hannah, one of my star pupils, the one who asked this question!) I used to tell people that we were homeschoolers, but we just homeschooled at Logos. Even though we are involved in private schooling (and we have our reasons), we are on the same team as homeschoolers, agreeing that the government has no business educating our children. But back to your question. It’s one thing to cheer for your three-year-old son who is jumping off the hearth: Way to go!! Big man!! But when he is ten, he needs to be doing more than jumping off the hearth to get your admiration. Homeschoolers have to address that need one way, and Logos is structured to address it another way. I was thinking of babies, toddlers, and preschoolers in my post, but older kids still need Mom, obviously. And aren’t we all glad of that!

  8. Thank you for this post.

    Now I have four teenagers and one little six year old girl. I have seen that the older call for time with mom in a different way than when they were little.

    Now, we even have special times to go out (just Mom and one of them) and sit at a Starbucks and talk for hours.

    They need time with Mama…that is true indeed.

    Have a most joyous weekend!

  9. Thank you so much for this reminder! Sometimes when you are in the middle of trying to get something accomplished, it’s hard not to view those moments as “interruptions.” Just as I was in the middle of reading this, I had to stop to look at my 4-year-old’s lava spewing volcano picture. But the smile on his face and excitement in his voice as he was explaining it all to me was a sweet moment. Then off he went to add some more smoke to the picture. I love being home to soak in these moments.

  10. Sigh… I love this post. It does something for my soul?

    I used to say that you can’t have quality-time without quantity-time, but I like what you said. You said it better’n me.

  11. You know what I love about this post, it is real, life, not perfect life, but real. We seem to swing from one pendulum to another sometimes. One side says that children need to be independent by the age of 2 , which is often just an excuse for me to do more meaningful things with my time besides change poopy diapers. While the other side of this will say that my meaning is all about poopy diapers, and 15 children with them should be my goal. But in truth, most of us live somewhere in the middle of all that.

    Life keeps moving, the kids are always moving and changing and we are living in each others world. It is encouraging to read you speak of faithful mothering as being there, being present, really present. Paying attention while doing our particular duties of housework, sewing, a business, sports and the plethora of other things that mom’s will doing in their lives while raising their children. I am gleaning the point that we are to raise our children, not leave it up to others. No matter where our chidren do school, or a summer job, or what friends house they go to, we are always to be raising, teaching and cheering on our children. Good stuff Nancy, thank you.

  12. You should have heard the Today show today. They announced a “new study” that shows that quality does matter when choosing a day care. It said that kids “seemed” to perform better as teenagers when they had higher quality day care. I wonder how much money they spent on that study!

  13. As one who fell into the trap of believing quality versus quantity when I put my daughter in daycare while I went off to work, I can vouch that children need lots of time with parents! Our good Lord knocked some sense into my head eventually and I pulled her out of public school and started homeschooling her mid year of 7th grade. It was the best decision I ever made. And we’re recovering from her mom-deprivation! She’s 20 years old, living her life, but still living at home because she wants more mommy time!

  14. I just heard something fun the other day about how we are supposed to spend more time with our kids. “No, actually they are supposed to spend more time with us. If we were spending all our time with them we would become the companion of fools.” He went on to say how we should train our children to walk with the wise. To be able to work with us and learn from us without always having to be entertained. Love it.

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