After 10 days of climbing mountains, riding bicycles and wading in tidal pools, I'm back from vacationing with my family and trying to resettle into reality. What I will miss most is the quality time I had with my three children and my husband.
Often I hear working parents debate quality versus quantity in time spent with family. Frankly, both are hard to come by when I'm running kids to sports practices, trying to whip up something somewhat healthy for dinner and worrying about making a work deadline. My conversations with my children and husband are along the lines of "How was your day?" or "How much homework do you have tonight?" I reluctantly admit that sometimes, I don't hear their answers, preoccupied by a phone call or email that need to be returned.
There is something about being in a different environment and a vacation-state-of-mind that opens the door not just for conversation, but also for listening. On vacation in Oregon, miles away from boyfriends, video games and a wifi signal, I asked my children questions and I not only heard their answers, I responded with additional questions that encouraged them to share more.
Studies have shown links between quality parent time and positive outcomes for children. I see positive outcomes for parents, too. I feel energized by having strengthened my relationships with my family. Typically at home, my daughter is running off to her boyfriend's home or my son is playing video games. There is something uplifting about quality time together outside of the normal routine where conversation goes deeper than the daily small talk.
I realize that going on vacation is a privilege some families can't afford. However, there are ways to build stronger bonds without traveling miles. For example, a picnic in the park or a visit to the museum with no where to be afterward could set the stage for the same kind of give and take conversation. Away from my daily worries, I was reminded how much I enjoy my family's company and just how valuable quality time is in our busy world. As I return to my Inbox and unfinished assignments, I am more conscious of the benefits of making quality time with people I care about and why we should all fight hard for work life balance.
What do you do to make quality time with your loved ones? Do you find ways to fit quality time into your work life balance?