Originally appeared in yourtango.com
Let’s get real about this “quality vs. quantity” debate.
We recently saw a perky talk show host ask a mega celebrity, “How do you balance a busy schedule with two kids and a husband?”
Her answer: “It’s all about quality — every time you spend time with your family make sure it’s quality — quantity doesn’t matter.”
Wait, what? Quantity doesn’t matter? Really? It seems some recent research agrees, stating that the amount of time mom and dad spend with their kids doesn’t really matter as long as the time you do spend together serves as focused, present “quality” time.
Uhm … we get that in theory. It sounds nice (if not convenient). But, ultimately, we’re NOT buying it. And we don’t think you should either.
If you’re not sure where you stand on the topic, consider the following scenarios and tell us … does quantity REALLY not matter?
- Ordering your coffee
You arrive at your favorite coffee shop, order your favorite White Chocolate Mocha Grande, and the barista hands you what resembles a Dixie cup of hot liquid. Instead of 16 ounces of velvety go-go juice, you get a shot of what she describes as “the highest quality bean they offer.”
That’s nice. Now hand me my Grande and no one gets hurt.
- Out with your spouse for date night
Date night — an event as rare as a Sasquatch sighting. It’s a great opportunity to reconnect now that you can finish a sentence without a child interrupting and enjoy a meal without cutting anyone’s meat. So, when you FINALLY agree on a night that works for both of you, wouldn’t you feel disappointed if you measured that time spent in quality — without quantity?
You secure the “chosen” babysitter (you know, the one your kids actually enjoy) for five full hours, but half-way through the date your husband says, “This was great. Thanks. I need to go get a few things done.”
“I’m sorry, WHAT?!” You thought you had the whole evening together and he’s cutting it short? He gives you a peck on the cheek and says, “Honey — we had some quality time together — now I just need some ‘me time.'”
Sounds like a quality night on the couch when he gets home.
- Fixing up your house
After waiting most of the summer, the painters arrive to get the job done. They came highly recommended and after watching awhile you see why — the man and woman are meticulous! After two hours they knock on your door to show you their work and say, “We hope you like the quality job we did. Quality is number one with us.”
The house is half painted. Painted very, very well. The color is perfect. The trim spotless. But, only half of it is the new warm color you spent weeks selecting.
You point out the rest of the house, they shrug and point to the slogan on their shirts “Quality is our top job.”
Seems like quality might be their last job.
- Hanging out with your son
After months of only a text here and there your son is home for summer break. You look forward to one of his favorites … a family game night. And, you’re pleased to see he remembers as he plops down at the table and starts to shuffle the cards. Playful trash talking commences, and he wins the first hand.
At that moment, the doorbell rings. He hops up to greet his buddy from high school, grabs his keys and says, “Hey, it was great spending some quality time together. I’ll be home around midnight.”
You’re dealt a quality, not quantity blow.
- When your spouse spends money
What if your spouse explains her all-of-a-sudden lower paycheck using the “Quality vs. Quantity” argument? She made a few great sales calls last month, just not enough to hit her numbers and receive the amount you budgeted for.
I think we’d all vote for quantity when it concerns money.
The secret is finding balance …
Sure, these examples are extreme (and some laughable) AND of course quality time matters, too. But if we’re honest, most of us prefer to spend the bulk (or large quantity) of our time with the people who matter most to us. And just like you want lots of time with them, they want (and need) a solid quantity of time with you. You. No one replaces you (or that time). NO ONE. So figure out how to make quantity time with your family happen from now on.
And as for that research study, it turns out, once they dug a bit deeper, quantity time DOES factor positively in raising your children, especially when they’re adolescents, stating “The more time a teen spends engaged with their mother, the fewer instances of delinquent behavior.”
Look, most of us care deeply about our role as a spouse and parent. We’re all doing our best, with some seasons of life going miraculously better than others. No one wants a guilt trip about how they’re disappointing the ones they love. But the truth is — before you know it, kids grow up and leave. You’ll want them to spend a good quantity of time with you in your advancing years. Do the same for them now.
Do you think quality or quantity is more important? Let us know by commenting below.