An increasing body of literature is redefining the meaning of 'quality time' - and it might be a lot easier than you think to get some.
Taking your children to the zoo for a day of in an effort to spend some time with them might not make a difference to their wellbeing.
Rather than spending money on big retreats and trips out, it’s all about the quiet moments you have together, often at home, that has the biggest impact.
A study published by the University of Toronto showed that the amount of time children between the ages of three and 11 spent with parents had no impact on their emotional and physical wellbeing.
The study stated:
We found that the quantity of time spent with mothers was not associated with the well-being of children ages three to 11 or for the behavioural health, emotional health, or academic performance.
It came to a similar conclusion on quality time with fathers.
In a separate study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) looking at the parenting of fathers, researchers found that:
Psychological and emotional aspects of paternal involvement in children's early upbringing, particularly how new fathers see themselves as parents and adjust to the role, rather than the quantity of direct involvement in childcare, is associated with positive behavioural outcomes in children.
It’s more important for fathers be actively involved in helping to raise their children than it is to simply spend time with them.
The stress often related to organising an event for the family – the cost involved, scheduling time off, planning the route and getting everyone together can negatively impact your scheduled ‘fun’ day.
Instead, professor of anthropology at UCLA, Dr Tamar Kremer- Sadlik took it a step further and advised that interacting with your family on an informal, often unplanned level is much more effective in fostering close relationships.
Everyday activities (like household chores or running errands) may afford families quality moments, unplanned, unstructured instances of social interaction that serve the important relationship-building functions that parents seek from ‘quality time’.