Tuesday, March 31, 2015

New Study Says I Don't Have to Spend Time with My Kids!


Put down your capes. Dismount your chariots. Release the cake decorating tools and for goodness sake, walk. away. from. the. Pinterest. boards.

As it turns out, maybe you don't have to spend so much time with your kids.

Quantity of Time
Earlier this week, an article was published in the Washington Post discussing a study that was the first of its kind to study the relationship between the amount and type of interaction parents had with their children and the various outcomes. What the study shows is that the amount of time a parent spends with their child or adolescent has no correlation whatsoever with how the child turns out, when looking at academic achievement, behavior and emotional well-being. Maybe it's not the quantity, but the quality of the time that really matters.

Is more time detrimental? 
The thing that stood out to me the most was when it talked about when the amount of time can actually be detrimental to the children:
"In fact, the study found one key instance when parent time can be particularly harmful to children. That’s when parents, mothers in particular, are stressed, sleep-deprived, guilty and anxious.
“Mothers’ stress, especially when mothers are stressed because of the juggling with work and trying to find time with kids, that may actually be affecting their kids poorly,” said co-author Kei Nomaguchi, a sociologist at Bowling Green State University" [1].
Hold the Phone 
So, apparently, what I've been feeling all this time is not so off course. Ever feel like you love your children more after having time away from them? Yeah, me too. It turns out, we're not bad people for feeling that way! I often struggle to be sure to take care of myself, while also working hard at my job, but STILL FEEL GUILTY for not spending as much time as possible with my kids. By the time I am with them, I'm still stressed about the house not being clean or homework not being done, and by the time I send them to bed I feel bad about how I spent what little time I had with them making them do chores.

Quality of Time Wins
It turns out it's the quality of the time spent that matters:
"Plenty of studies have shown links between quality parent time — such as reading to a child, sharing meals, talking with them or otherwise engaging with them one-on-one — and positive outcomes for kids. The same is true for parents’ warmth and sensitivity toward their children. It’s just that the quantity of time doesn’t appear to matter" [1].
This helps my heart as a mother so much. As a child, I wished I had a mother who could be a homeroom mom and volunteer for all the field trips. I wished that my hard working single mother could be home with me after school and do all the things with me. I thought that's what made a good parent. I thought the best kind of mother I could be was a stay-at-home-mom who homeschooled and baked bread and did all the things with my kids. But it turned out that skin didn't fit me so well.
I started becoming a better mom when I stopped trying to be such a good mom, and just started being myself. I just want to make sure to have a good balance of pursuing my dreams as an entrepreneur, while also stopping to smell the roses and paying the right kind of attention to my children.
Rethinking My Time
I'm rethinking how I approach my time with my kids. Maybe I don't have to feel bad about the long hours I work, but when I'm with them, I need to really be WITH them. How do I do that? How do YOU do that?

So, here's to rethinking your time with your kids. How will you adjust the time you spend with your children? Are you making what time you do have with them really count?

[1] http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/making-time-for-kids-study-says-quality-trumps-quantity/2015/03/28/10813192-d378-11e4-8fce-3941fc548f1c_story.html


Gaby said...

Thank you so much for sharing this and for being real. I run a business that's all about helping moms reconnect with themselves, and there's so much guilt around TIME. And my kids are often at work with me, and so many people tell me "You're so lucky you get to bring your kids to work." Yes, my kids are with me often. But when they are with me at work, I'm not paying attention to them, and I'm usually yelling. SO not quality.

Wilkens said...

Ha, I wrote a blog post almost the exact opposite ;) No surprise that I am not falling in line with statistics... Here's the link in case you want to laugh at the differences. :)


It mostly talks about my husband and me, but I totally relate it to my kids also. FYI, I enjoyed reading about the study and your thoughts. However I was thinking that it makes sense that it could release a mom from guilt and I'm all for that! But, it's not either/or. It's possible to spend lots of time with your kids and still make time for yourself. We've all got the same amount of hours in a week and we choose how we spend them.

Right now I should be choosing to sleep! ;)


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