Quality time is an often-used term in our extremely busy urban lives. We all crave for quality time with our friends and family. But what does it really mean? Is it about going on an expensive holiday, or throwing a lavish party and then putting up social media posts? Let’s face it, we live in a world where if someone wishes us “happy birthday” after 9 am we do believe it is because of the Facebook reminder. Many of us have done this social experiment of switching the birthday reminder off and checking how many people really wish us.
We all know that time is the most important thing that we can give our loved ones, especially our kids. And the most important aspect of parenting is leading by example. So, in our lives which are so strongly governed by social media validation are we not setting wrong examples of showing off intensely personal moments? Let’s face it, we are actually spending more time in making that particular moment special and in effect not enjoying it thoroughly. Our mind is engaged elsewhere. Isn’t this need for an audience in everything taking away the “quality” from most personal experiences? Is sitting in a room and watching television together having quality time? I believe there is quality in time spent together when the other person or people have your undivided attention.
So, in our lives which are so strongly governed by social media validation are we not setting wrong examples of showing off intensely personal moments?
Some of the most cherished moments of my childhood are the conversations I had with my dad while he dropped me at the bus stop. Together we noted new things in our mundane surroundings and it brought unadulterated joy. Later on, we started driving to the bus stop though I was happy to get that five minutes of extra sleep a part of me hated it because his attention and time were no longer entirely mine. Today, when I drop my son at his bus stop, I am mostly tracking the school bus’ real-time location. He often asks me if I have checked with the didi and the bus is on time.
I spend a lot of one-on-one time with my son chasing him to do things he is completely unwilling to like finishing his meals and within a given time. That I am sure is not quality time either. Some of the best moments, I have had with him is when I have watched him doing things without him being aware of it. And when he has figured out my presence, he has welcomed me into his play world. It has been easier to talk to him about things and ideas when I played by his rules. Likewise, some of the best conversations I have had with my husband are probably when we were stuck in traffic going to or coming back from work, in those moments, we did not have any excuse of being busy anywhere else.
Together we noted new things in our mundane surroundings and it brought unadulterated joy. Later on, we started driving to the bus stop though I was happy to get that five minutes of extra sleep a part of me hated it because his attention and time were no longer entirely mine.
I think it is easier to find quality time when we are not trying to find it. But does that mean we should not try to have new experiences? Of course not, as long as we can keep our busy-ness at bay and be mindful of what we are looking for in that experience, we should do it. And if we are able to have fun in the present, without thinking of external validation and that experience is strengthening our bond and opening possibilities of having a meaningful conversation, then what’s the harm.
The views expressed are the author's own.