Friday, December 16, 2011

Quality vs quantity time with my daughter

What matters more: The amount of time you spend with your child, or the quality of time you spend together?

I think I've learned the answer to that question this week.

It's been slightly insane the past few days. My husband is now halfway through his training and we're beginning to get a taste of what his schedule will be like once he graduates.

He's in to work at 5pm and not home until after 2am. This week I was beat and in bed before he got home then back at work before he and Lil' J woke up. It's just been one of those weeks where I wonder what it would be like if I stayed at home with her and didn't have any place I had to be.

I tried my best to hurry to work early so I could get home earlier, and catch my husband before he left for work. But he had to leave extra early for his shift and by the time I picked up Lil' J from school and made it home, I'd just miss him. I was frustrated and felt like I was seeing both of them... Well, never.

I have some time off coming up around the holidays, which normally is a good thing for most people, but for me this means I have to put in a little more work now. I'm writing and editing stories in advance, and doing extra interviews.  Everything combined means a little more overtime and a little less time at home with my family.

I know I get a mix of sentiments from other moms. Some know exactly how I feel and others don't wish they were in my shoes. I suppose some could wish they were, but I doubt it.

That full-time daycare that we pay for, but use part-time finally earned its keep this week.We took her all five days versus her usual three.

It's not like she doesn't like it. In fact, my husband told me this morning she kept grabbing his shoes, demanding he put them on, and shaking her car seat, while saying "skoo" "skoo" which means "school" in Lil' J talk. I just feel bad when she's spending more time playing with her teachers and friends than she is playing with me.

There's hardly anything in this world that makes me feel worse than picking my daughter up from school and only having time to feed, bathe and dress her for bed before it's time for us to crash and do it all over again in the morning.

I had had enough. It was time to reconnect.

I went in a couple of hours earlier than I normally do and told myself I was skipping a lunch and leaving exactly eight hours later. Then I picked my daughter up for some good old fashioned fun.

Normally when I want to have a blast, I take her somewhere.--A park with slides, a museum, a water playscape, or petting zoo. But tonight we'd bring the fun to us.
We had just received our finger puppets in the mail courtesy of Her Threaded Needle. One set for of Old Mc. Donald's farm, and another of 5 little monkeys.

Before we even got inside I pulled them out and showed them to her. She had never seen finger puppets like this before but I knew she's love them because she loves puppets and she loves singing. Sure enough, I couldn't even get them all on my fingers before she pulled them off to try for herself.

We changed into our PJs long before it was time for bed so we could eat cheese and crackers, talk, and play. She shows me her toys and babbled to me, and I replied. It made me stop and think how often I give her my undivided attention on a regular basis, and how often is my mind someplace else. In this very moment, I was all hers.

In her room I took out the monkey finger puppets and sang the "Five Little Monkeys" song, and tried my best to make it as hilarious as possible. BOINKing my head when the monkey's fell and hit their head, and jumping when they jumped. I think it worked. She of course wanted to sing it too. Then, just before lights out time, I taught her one of the coolest things she's ever learned--How to jump.
I pretty sure in this moment, and right after I kissed her goodnight she was thinking something like:

I may not get to spend all the time I would like with her. I may not be home with her every day. But I make the most of the time we do have together. Because I think it's quality that matters more than quantity.
Rachel, owner of Her Threaded Needle has graciously offered to giveaway a set of Christmas finger puppets to one of my readers.
Just enter using the tool below (if you don't want to use your facebook account, click the small print that says you want to use your name and email address). It's a quick one so you can get it by Christmas. Ends 12:01am on Monday. Good luck!

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