Quantity time, Quality Time, & a Clingy son

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Recently, I had a bit of traveling to do for work. Nearly 2 weeks worth, to be exact.

Confession: Though I see great value in getting out of your normal environment to dream, plan, and stretch, I hate being away from my family. I hate it.

My son is at the age where he definitely understands that I’m gone. But he doesn’t understand when I’ll be back. Every morning I was gone, he expected I was still going to be there to play with him.

"Show me your 'mean' face!"

Every night before he went to bed, he expected I’d be there to tuck him in.

My wife told him that I’d be home next Friday, but that meant nothing to him. Next Friday is just like tomorrow…or next year. He has no concept of time.

So when I returned home, he didn’t want me out of his sight. Everywhere I went, everything I did, every time took a sip of coffee, he was right by my side. He didn’t want to take the chance that I’d get on another plane without him. That I’d go somewhere and leave him back home. If I grabbed my keys, he heard them jangling together from across the house and came running.

It reminded me that in raising children, neglecting “quantity” time is a big deal. (I know that there are people that travel much more than I do, the demands of their job pulling them away. I interact lots with military families…I get it.) And when I neglect quality time, my son feels it.

Quality Not Guaranteed

You can’t avoid “quantity” time together and be guaranteed “quality” time.

Culture would lead us to believe that it’s the “quality” of your time with your family that is most important. That “quantity” time is a waste, and just isn’t feasible. With the demands of work, hobbies, church, etc., “quantity” family time is a thing of the past.

Truth: you can tell what you value by what fills up your calendar.

“Quality” time is found when you spend “quantity” time. In other words, “quality” time isn’t truly “quality” without a bit of “quantity” to go with it.

Oftentimes, I hear families say they focus more on the quality of their time together rather than the how much time they truly spend. Which is code, every time, for, “We’re too busy to spend much time together.”

Life takes on a different pace for most people through the summer months. A slower, more relaxed pace.

This summer, uncover quality through quantity.

Put your phone down. Don’t “Facebook” the moment. Instagram can wait. Instead of watching life unfold before you on your 3-inch LCD screen, watch it unfold in all its beauty.

Check voicemail later. Respond to emails after bedtime. Your Twitter feed can wait.

And take advantage of every moment.

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart(K) and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. (Deuteronomy 6:4-7, emphasis mine)



Christ follower, husband, father, writer, small groups pastor at Saddleback Community Church. Communications director for the Small Group Network.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • http://undistractedchristian.com/ Tyler Hess

    you can tell what you value by what fills up your calendar.”

    absolutely, thats why I recommend everyone intentionally write out their priorities and then compare them to how they schedule their day/week!

    • http://www.benreed.net Ben Reed

      That’s a great exercise, Tyler. Incredibly revealing.

  • Alan Wildes

    Really well said Ben.  I have spent the past 12 years trying to give as much of my time to my kids as possible.  There is an amazing reassurance for them to know that I am in the house or will be right back from the gym or a lunch meeting.  I intentionally focused my business to be as local as possible when they were babies because as you so said; little ones have no concept of time.  

    Really well done.

    Have you read Choosing to Cheat by Andy Stanley?  If not, I would encourage you to pick up a copy.  It changed my life and how I view things.  http://goo.gl/ppbA1

    • http://www.benreed.net Ben Reed

      Hey Alan,
      Thanks for the encouragement. I haven’t read “Choosing to Cheat,” but I’ve heard great things. I think I’ll put it on my summer reading list. Thanks!