Most people misunderstand “spending time” vs “spending quality time”. So let's start by asking, which of the following do you think is quality time?
Taking a bus home after fetching your child from school
Taking a bus with your child to the beach for a picnic .
The answer: Both can be quality time, or can be simply spending time together, depending on what goes on during the journey.
Other than just going through the motion, Quality Time should also include conversation that facilitates sharing of thoughts and feelings. It can be through story- telling , or through self-disclosure. Children enjoy listening to stories. When reading or telling a story, you may pause occasionally to help your child identify his/her emotions, and guide him/her to reflect on his/her own behaviors. The other type is self-disclosure conversation. It can be as simple as you sharing about your younger days, and your reflection about these memories .
Such conversations are more meaningful, and can help shape your child’s emotional maturity. By helping your child learn and identify emotions, it will path the way for better self-regulation. When you self-disclose, you are actually putting yourself in a vulnerable position, subjecting yourself to the other party's judgement. This tells your him/her that you trust him/her enough to share your secret, and will help child understand your values and beliefs.
Either of the two conversation types should be present in Quality Time. In short, even having a meal together, can be quality time. Conversely, a planned vacation trip to a holiday destination can also turn out disastrous. Lastly, any form of unhappiness or negative emotions automatically eliminates the definition of quality time. Hence, the process is more important than the event. Hence, even without planned activities, you may actually be spending Quality Time.