Quality Time

Understanding quality time

What is quality time?

Quality time, sometimes shortened to QT, is a phrase that refers to moments of greater value than other occasions, usually spent in the company of people who are most important to us. By contrast, time which is deemed to be of low-quality is when we are not available to our loved ones, such as time spent at work or being distracted by daily chores and other activities. Of course, there is nothing to say that you cannot achieve a period of quality time when you are on your own or in the company of colleagues rather than friends or family members, for example. Nevertheless, to most people, the idea of quality time is one that is bound up without distractions where your total focus can be given to the people around you. As such, it tends to be associated with holidays and other periods where there are fewer demands on our attention.

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 When is it best to make quality time?

As mentioned previously, QT is often associated with prolonged periods of rest or travelling, such as spending the day out together or going away on holiday. However, there is no hard and fast rule that says it can only come at such times. For example, it is perfectly possible to have moments of high quality with loved ones on a daily basis, without going anywhere or doing some sort of elaborate activity. This will often come about most effectively when a specific time is given over to talking and sharing information about the day you have had. In many family set-ups, meal times taken together offer just such an opportunity. Many families, therefore, decide to always have dinner together on certain days of the week, for instance.

How can you spend quality time with your partner?

If you have a young family with small children or other demands on your daily life, then finding sufficient time to nurture your relationship can be problematic. To achieve more time with your partner that could reasonably be described as high in quality, it may be necessary to make time in both of your schedules where distractions from digital devices and other potentially diverting sources will be banned. Ideally, you will find a babysitter to look after the kids for that period of time and spend time in each others' company without anyone else there to demand attention from either of you. Some married and other long-term couples achieve just such a framework by going on dates just as they might have done when they first met and were dating.

What is quality time with your family?

There are so many ways to spend QT with your family, and each family will have different ways of doing it. QT with your family comes down to your priorities as a group. Some families like to spend quality time together by playing games or music together. Different types of shared experiences - like going to a performance or watching a sporting contest - can also count in this regard. Doing what family activities the other people in your family like, even if you don't care for it so much personally, is always a good move to get more quality time into your life. The focus is on spending time together and enjoying each other's company by sharing an activity, experience, or having good conversations about things that are important to you.

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Why is quality time important?

Without having any quality time, relationships can easily start to deteriorate. Suppose there is no effort put into it in terms of making sure to set aside time to actually enjoy each other's company. In that case, it is very easy for a relationship of any sort to start somewhat to fizzle and fade away. In some cases, one of the people involved in the relationship might notice the lack of QT and take it as a sign that the other person is no longer interested in maintaining the relationship. All personal relationships – with friends, family members and partners – can break down unless sufficient time is given over to help them grow. As such, setting aside time is one of the best ways of keeping your relationships going.

Why is quality time important in a relationship?

Many people ask why quality time is important in a relationship, and the truth is that it can be very different depending on the sort of relationship you have. For example, some couples who have very busy working lives may only be able to spend no more than a few brief moments with one another at weekends. Others may have commitments that mean they see even less of one another. In such cases, making time for one another alone and without distractions is likely to be more important. However, if you see each other every day and spend at least a few hours in each other's company in the evening, your idea of quality time together might include socialising with others or spending time together with your children. Nevertheless, most people agree that QT is needed in romantic relationships to keep them special and to ensure that the other person in the relationship feels valued and loved. Without some QT, relationships can ultimately fail.

Why is quality time important with your child?

When answering why quality time is important with a child, many of the same reasons that it is important to create time for your partner come into play. For example, if all you do with your child is rush them to school in the morning, get them to do their homework and household chores in the afternoon and spend no time with them in the evening, they will start to feel disconnected from you. Of course, a relationship with a child is very different from a romantic one, but the same principles still apply. Your adult relationship with your child might not be as good as you would want it to be if your child feels they spent not quality time with you during their upbringing. Remember that QT does not need to be an expensive holiday. It could be as simple as prioritising sitting down together each day for a meal and asking about each other's days.

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How do you express quality time as a love language?

There are five love languages, according to the American author and radio host Gary Chapman. These include physical touch, acts of service and words of affirmation. According to Chapman, another love language that people use to express their love for others – as well as their sense of being loved – is quality time. His 1992 book on the subject breaks QT down in three basic ways. You can express it with quality conversation, something that would work well whether you are parenting or working on a loving friendship. Chapman also suggests that focussed attention is important for QT, which means not being distracted for the time spent together to be of a higher quality. He also suggests that people can express QT as a love language with quality activities. As such, some of the best relationship advice you might take would involve arranging 'date nights' where you do something enjoyable together as a part of your push for more quality time.

What are some examples of quality time?

When considering what examples of quality time there are, it is crucial to note that what might be thought of as QT by one person may not be by the next. The aforementioned 'date nights' are often cited by relationship counsellors as examples of QT couples who would like greater intimacy should try. However, some people prefer family activities, such as hikes in the countryside or trips to the coast. Whether your QT consists of just two people or a wider group, the point is to do something everyone engages in equally and feels they have a stake in. Theatre trips, visiting cultural centres, such as museums, and attending sporting events together can all count as QT. There again, simply adjusting your work-life balance, so you spend more time at home in each other's company also counts. If you feel stuck in a rut, then how about trying a new hobby, joining a group together or taking a class in something you are both novices in? Such a journey, set out on together, can be very rewarding.

How do you get quality time?

If you want to get more quality time with someone, then you also have to offer it in return. When that person – your child, partner or friend – is talking to you, give them eye contact. Avoid picking up your phone or watching TV when it is time for QT. Listen actively, which means occasionally interjecting to expand on something they've said or to ask a question. In short, the more you give to QT, the more you are likely to get back out of it. Equally, setting aside a certain time can also help QT to become habit-forming. Why not make Monday evenings your special time together, for instance, or book time off work early so you can guarantee time in one another's company? Something as simple as playing board games with your kids can lead to more QT and less time spent engaging with screens.

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How do you spend quality time with yourself?

How to spend more time with solo QT is something that many individuals ask themselves. This is quite natural because not all time spent with high-quality needs to be in the company of others. Sometimes, people with poor work-life balances will need to reset themselves mentally before they can offer their friends, family and partner the QT they are seeking. This is particularly the case among people with demanding or stressful jobs. It is almost as if they need to 'come down' before they can open themselves up again. Solo QT could be as simple as soaking in the bath and allowing your stressed-out muscles to relax. Reading a book in silence is often a favoured technique. Listening to soothing music will allowing your mind to wander freely is also helpful. Avoid anything that is 'busy', such as shopping or interacting online. Many people find that meditation will also help them to focus better and enjoy their other QT more, as a result.

How much is enough quality time?

To answer the question of how much QT is enough is impossible because it varies from person to person. For most people living with the daily stress of modern life, more QT, not less, is preferable, but it will depend on the work-life balance of the individual(s) concerned. Nevertheless, many people know instinctively when they are getting enough QT with their child, their family members or within their romantic relationship. For numerous people, there is a balance that simply feels right when there is sufficient QT on offer. They feel refreshed, more content and reassured in their relationships, and this often means that they feel they have enough QT in their lives. When dealing with older children who have a growing sense of independence, as few as ten minutes QT each day is enough for both parent and child, but, again, it depends on the individuals concerned. Some people set aside a weekly slot for QT, for example, and find that is enough.

Is living together quality time?

No, living together does not constitute QT in its own right. If you want to spend more QT with your partner but do not live together, then moving in with one another may seem like a good way of getting more QT. It can certainly work out like that, but daily life may get in the way, and couples who have recently started living together sometimes feel they get less QT, not more. This is why it is often suggested they make time for one another with date nights just as they might have enjoyed before cohabiting with one another. Equally, simply living under the same roof as your kids does not mean you'll enjoy QT. Living elsewhere from them does not mean you need to be estranged from them, after all. So long as you make time and do so frequently, it is perfectly possible to enjoy QT without living together.

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Quality time in summary

In the end, quality time is about creating moments in your life that have a higher value to you than others. Importantly, these moments are often shared with those who are closest to you, although some QT can be very much a solo pursuit. If you want those around you to feel valued and, ultimately, that you love them, then offering them these higher value moments in your life is what QT is all about. Many people feel that they cannot always achieve this and that it is unrealistic given a hectic schedule or busy lifestyle. However, this ultimately comes down to the choices that individuals make. Is responding to that work enquiry really more important than getting home to the family? Does foregoing your holiday entitlement for a personal project stack up against spending time with your partner? Ask yourself these questions when prioritising your life. There are no right or wrong answers. However, if you don't offer those around you the QT they deserve, then you will have to face the consequences.

For some people, not creating enough QT in their lives means that their relationship might deteriorate. Their friendships could suffer, and they could even end up being on bad terms with their children. Offering more QT won't necessarily prevent these undesirable outcomes, but it will make them less likely for the vast majority of people. What's more, creating higher value moments in your life with those around you is fairly straightforward. Engaging with them actively, listening to what they have to say and making eye contact are all good ways to improve the degree of QT you enjoy. Setting aside time for activities, especially fun ones, will also help and, what's more, it can become quite a habit. Looking back, you may wonder why you ever prioritised anything else than the most important things to you.

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