When my girls were young I spent a lot of time trying to create “Kodak” moments. Before special occasions and holidays I spent weeks making decorations and perusing cookbooks for dishes to prepare that would evoke memories of “home” when my children were grown and gone. All of this was done in an attempt to manufacture memorable rituals and traditions.
Like all working parents, I also constantly worried about how to find “quality” time for my children. I drove myself crazy trying to schedule two hours of “quality time” several evenings each week, and planning child-centered activities on weekends.
Of course, the memories I tried to manufacture weren’t remembered, the handmade items usually ended up in the trash, many of the specially prepared meals uneaten, and “quality time” often deteriorated into a test of wills.
One day, I was combing my 6-year-old’s hair while listening to her chatter about some event that happened at school the previous day when I suddenly realized how content I felt listening to her chatter. I don’t even remember what she was talking about. I am sure it seemed like nonsense to me, but was vitally important to her. To this day, I still remember how much peace I felt going through this daily ritual of preparing for school while being given the opportunity to explore the inner workings of my daughter’s mind.
In that moment, while combing my daughter’s hair, it dawned on me that we don’t have to make quality time–we already have quality time.
The gift of quality time is given to us by simply participating in the natural rhythms of daily life.
Every tickle and splash at bath time, every shared story while combing hair, and every pre-dinner chat is a perfect opportunity to deepen our bond. Rather than rushing through each of these moments in order to get to the next item on our “to do” list, we should take the time to pay attention during these activities and capture the quality time we desire.
Singular events don’t carry as much weight if you remember to stay “in-the-moment” as you go through seemingly mundane tasks. Any guilt you may feel at missing an event here or there dissipates because you take advantage of the daily rituals to bond and connect with your child.
My children have reached the age where they would rather spend time with their friends than me. They no longer need me to comb their hair or help them dress. Although they have grown into self-reliant and competent young adults, they still hug and kiss me before leaving, share their lives as we cook dinner, or stand over my chair and play with my hair. However, the remnant of their youth I treasure the most is when they come into my room and lie across my bed – sometimes to chat, sometimes to share, and sometimes just to be.
Excerpt from Angela Toussaint’s newly released book “The Momarchy: A Single Mom’s Guide to Guilt-Free Parenting!”