The dilemma of every modern parent is the amount of time spent engaged in their children’s development and lives versus the amount of time they have available.
I often hear parents talk about wanting to spend quality time with their children. Let’s examine that idea – is it quality or quantity or neither?
Quality is the value of something – a standard of excellence, an attribute or characteristic. Quantity is a measure, an amount or a number. It sounds quite matter of fact when put that way.
What does this mean for our children?
Is quality time a time scheduled that suits us rather than our children? Is it when our child needs us? Does quality mean that we are totally focussed and engaged with our children for a set amount of time? Can we put down the device, try and ignore the 101 things we have to do and put all our energy into our child? In this often overcommitted world that we live in it’s hard to slow down and just “be“ with our children. Finding those moments and being in them is the challenge – the quality and the quantity follows. The Australian Children’s Early Childhood Quality Authority Framework (reference below) is wonderfully titled Belonging Being and Becoming. Being present for our children sounds simplistic but can be so easy once we accept that there doesn’t need to be a purpose or a goal other than being.
I read recently an article in the Sydney Morning Herald about the Australian Emmy Award winning animated children’s series Bluey. It included an interview with the creator of Bluey and his motivation for writing the series (based on his daughters early school experiences) as well as comment from researchers. The article talks about children’s play and an adult’s role in it, parenting and the episodes based on many common children’s behaviours and emotions (there’s one about teasing scheduled on May 20). If you haven’t watched it yet and you have young children please do. It’s wonderful. It highlights the need for us to be engaged with children when they want or need us and acknowledges that it can be hard work but we get to share the joy!
Every family is different but I think the answer is to be as engaged as we can be in our children’s lives, to be real and authentic and be aware of times when they need our help, support and input and when they don’t. To be open to the times when they invite us into their play, their activities and games and to step back when they are managing on their own and negotiating their own rules and roles.
If living with this pandemic has taught us anything I hope it is to stop, breathe, be and as they say …..smell the roses -with our precious children.
Mary Digges *
Early Childhood Consultant for Angsana Education.
* Mary Digges is an early childhood teacher, lecturer, trainer, assessor and consultant in education and has long promoted bilingual and multilingual education. Mary has worked in Australia, Singapore and China.
The Australian Children’s Early Childhood Quality Authority (ACECQA)
Belonging Being and becoming – The Early Years Learning Framework for Australia (EYLF)
My Time Our Place – Framework for School Aged Care in Australia (MTOP)