Many people would agree that Family Time is important. Some would go as far as to quote Dolly Parton: "Don't get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life"
I tend to agree with that quote. However, I also tend to believe that quality family time makes more of a difference (especially with younger kids) than just spending time together. It's great to go out for a stroll in the park with Miss E, but if I'm only half paying attention to her and checking my cellphone every 5 minutes, that isn't quality time. Not only do I feel distracted, but Miss E also feels like she then is not as important.
Quality time to me is shutting off from the world, even if it's just half an hour. And being in the moment with my loved-ones. Being present, in mind and body. And so when I do our yearly vacation plans, I keep in mind that for long stretches of time, I will not be active on social media, I will not be blogging, nor will I be answering text messages minutes after receiving them - because in fact, my phone is switched off.
This year, we have had a few mini-holidays. And recently Papa Bear, Miss E and I drive across the border into The Netherlands and vacationed in a resort north of Amsterdam. The weather was not that great and it wasn't exactly 'white sandy beach'. But it was still really nice.
We had a few hiccups: first house had no hot water; moved to another house; second house had no freezer. Luckily though, we were on vacation mode and we took everything with a pinch of salt, stayed calm and carried on.
Even in the bad weather (heavy rain, strong wind), we still managed to have the best time by making the most of our situation. And our bonus was that our booking was a week before the summer school holidays and so we quite literally shared the park with about 20 other families. On Day 2 we shared the inside pool with three other people. Our last night, we decided to have dinner at the restaurant, and we didn't dine with anyone else. When we took a stroll along the lake, we passed one lady and her dog.
It was quiet, it was wonderful. Miss E had the best time. She had her parents' full attention for the entire week. Yes, I still had my camera out everywhere, but other than that: no cellphone.
It was a little on the short side for my liking, but I was also quite happy when I fell asleep in my own bed back home...does that even make sense?
One thing I learnt on this trip, is that Miss E is growing up. Just this past Easter, she was afraid to sit on a pony. Now she wants to ride every chance she gets. And life gets in the way sometimes, we don't realise the small leaps she makes in her development. And so I want to try and make more of an effort with being in the present with her.
Carving out some quality time with the family is important to me. More important than material gifts and wealth. Living in the moment, making memories and experiencing life with those we love. That is what makes life worth living. At least that is how it is for me, now that I am a mum.
Quality Time, Family Time, call it what you like. At the end of the day, we all want our children to remember that time we did that thing together and nothing interrupted that beautiful (or fun) moment. Sometimes, all it takes is one afternoon together, building Lego towers. Other times we have to switch off for a week, maybe two and get in some extra bonding time. I have felt of late, that those precious moments are what make the horrible moments in parenting, better.
What do you mums and dads do for quality time with the family? Do you ever switch off and go dark, so that you can give your family your undivided attention? How do you stay 'in the moment' with your kids? I'd love to hear your ideas.