It’s no secret that spending quality time with your family can lead to a sense of more connectedness and open up the lines of communication, yet this is difficult to do in our lives that are full of extra curricular activities, technology, and work. Especially when we note that it is quality time we are searching for; where there is chance to make improving the relationship the emphasis, and not the activity.
That’s why here at Capital Choice Counselling Group, we’re thankful for built in pauses like the upcoming March Break (or the current March Break if you are in Gatineau). Depending on your schedule of course, but it can make it easier to find the time to connect when school and many regular weekly activities take a break. Yet, somehow even with all of our best intentions, the time we booked off to strengthen the family can often break down. This can leave us at best discouraged, and not knowing what to do next. And so this blog aims to point out some directions to take when you find yourself roadblocked.
What is Quality Time in the Family?
First off, if we are going to point out what gets in the way of creating it, then we have to know what quality time is. It is usually defined as giving your undivided attention to someone; however, this does not always have to be the case. We often will experience quality time as we are doing an activity with someone, where some of your attention is on the activity itself. Even watching T.V. together can be quality time if done properly, by tuning into the other person more than the T.V. Therefore, quality time is more of a perspective of prioritizing a relationship. You will know that you have experienced quality time if:
- — The people involved walk away from the encounter feeling more connected, and safer in the relationship.
- — It can contain sharing both “negative” and “positive” thoughts and emotions, it does not need to stay light. In fact, sometimes it is in the sharing of the more negative thoughts and feelings that more chances for connection can happen.
- — A sense of feeling heard and responded to will occur—this does not mean that all parties will feel heard necessarily in the same encounter, but it can set the stage for reciprocal responding later.
Roadblocks of Quality Time
- — Thinking that quality time is just something that occurs once in a while, independent from the other aspects of the relationship. If you are not present to your spouse or child, it is not realistic to expect that as soon as you have reached the designated quality time, that there will be the open communication and sharing that promotes connectedness. Practice being tuned in to your spouse and child’s life as much as possible, and you will find that when you do reach the set apart time together, it flows easier and goes deeper.
- — It is important to not always use set aside quality time as a way to get an agenda across to the person. Often when we finally have the attention of our child or spouse it can be tempting to want to problem solve any issues that might be occurring. This is not a bad thing to do occasionally, but if you find yourself always using the time in this way, it can be a deterrent for spending more time together later.
- — Prepare ahead of time for topics that may disrupt spending time together. Often old patterns can completely take over quality time, so make sure to recognize where you get stuck as a family on a particular topic. Do you become defensive? Shut down or walk away? Identify something different that you could do to interrupt the pattern. It could even be as simple as stating that you don’t want the pattern to get in the way of connecting.
- — Thinking it has to be a set amount of time—Even if it has been only 30 seconds, checking in with your spouse or child is quality time. This lets them know that you are there for them, which is an essential quality to good relationships. Remember, if you walk away feeling more connected, you have experienced the quality time that is so important.
We hope that this March Break allows for that perspective of quality time to take hold for you and your family.
Written by Erika DeSchiffart, psychotherapist with Capital Choice Counselling Group.