Time with the kids: Quality and Quantity

I recently read an article that stated that parents should spend both ‘quality time’ and ‘quantity time’ with their kids. That we should recognise and balance the two aspects. It suggested that in doing this we would raise happy and secure children. Brilliant – another recipe for the worlds best parent. 
My husband and I decided we would give it a go…  We thought about our family life and agreed that we were good at the ‘quantity time’. My husband works from home, I have no life… all pretty straight forward. We watch T.V. together, play on our phones, consoles and tablets all in the same room, and when we are not doing this they  follow me around talking constantly, sometimes in shifts and sometimes all at once. Sorted. However, when we thought about the ‘quality time’ we realised that recently we had not given this much space. We needed more family fun, more child led, crazy days and more conversations. We needed to act quickly, before our children became the unsettled, dispirited children portrayed in the magazine. We booked a swimming trip to Romsey Rapids.

With hindsight you could say that this was rather an extreme reaction, perhaps a subtle and gentle breaking in of the ‘quality time’ would have been better… a trip to feed the ducks or a nice dog walk, but that day we were up for a challenge, We threw ourselves in at the deep end :).

I gathered towels, costumes, children and husband and jammed them all into the car (we left the dog behind, he doesn’t like the flumes). In a cloud of dust and excitement (verging on hysteria), we were off. On arrival, we bundled through the entrance, paid and located a ‘Family  Changing Room’ that was built for a family of one. My 6 ft 2 husband, 3 kids and rather rotund self proceeded to smash about trying to change. My middle son was bouncing around frantically until I clonked him on the head with the baby changing table, stunning him into stillness for a couple of minutes (accidentally, of course).

Then shouting frantic instructions to my husband we embarked on the most exhausting 60 minutes of our lives. This wasn’t a swimming pool, it was a war zone! Survival of the fittest. Firstly we shared the children out between us and gave them a stern talking to about the dangers of water and poolside safety. We uttered that we hoped they would stay close to us at all times. They responded by running in three different directions. We ran after the two least likely to survive, whilst yelling at the third to “GET BACK HERE!”

Just when you felt you had caught one, you were shot in the eye by a water canon and they would slip away. Then you would momentarily catch a glimpse of them in the calmer part of the pool, before they were sucked into and swept off by the rapids. Leaving just you and a few random teenagers trying to swim against the flow, the teenagers laughing as you splutter past in desperate pursuit of one child or another. The noise all around was deafening and occasionally punctuated by a blood curdling scream or two.

When we caught them, instead of being grateful they repeatedly kicked you in the ribs and squirmed. Neil had lost a toenail in similar circumstances and was keen not to lose any other body parts, so battered and bruised  we finally got them cornered in the jacuzzi and began to relax until our eldest son (overcome by the bubbles) proceeded to gag repeatedly, we had to make a quick exit from that place of tranquillity and take refuge in the main pool. At which point a fog horn sounded (that put me in mind  of the Hunger Games) announcing the wave machine. I saved two of my children from drowning and suggested calmly that my husband took them all to queue (hopefully for an hour) for the flume ride. Whilst this happened I enjoyed a little ‘me’ time with the teenagers I had met earlier.

It took ages to coax them out of the pool, and then two of the children ran off with all the clothes and locked themselves in a changing room.

As a result I developed a strange allergy or intolerance to ‘quality time’. Perhaps it’s more a once a year thing?


  1. Bobbi

    Are you completely mad?! I remember going with you to the paddling pool in worthing when we only had one each, we had to leave early!! I really laughed reading this particularly the reference to poor Neil’s toenail and the sounding of the horn , I haven’t seen or read the Hunger Games but have some idea of it, and I know exactly what you mean! That horn sound just brings on that awful feeling of dread , like something bad is about to happen. We went to a childrens rapids pool in Devon , I was terrified ,you have no control , just whizz round the bends clinging onto your children like you would disappear down a giant plug hole at the end! And for some crazy reason I decided to wear make up (well just some mascara ) so you can imagine what I looked like emerging from the rapids , chocking with black streaks down my cheeks dazed and quite possibly with a “wedgy” . In future I will be telling the children the horn means we are now closing the pool. Incase you are feeling really adventurous , some advice, if you are ever in St Lucia and decide to go horse riding , it’s probably not a good idea to go bare back swimming in the sea , particularly if like me your previous horse riding experience was the odd donkey ride atleast 40 years previously ! It’s that complete lack of control, clinging on thing and you don’t even get a horn sound to warn you. Thank you for making me laugh once again with your stories and bringing back some funny memories x

  2. Anna


    Is this what I have to look forward to with my three? I can totally relate to this scenario and the pressure to ‘enjoy every moment’ of the ‘family day’. I find that you can’t necessarily plan ‘quality time’ altogether as it all depends on what mood everyone is in and how tired/stressed we are. I do love it though when you stumble across a beautiful moment with the kids spontaneously or, more often, when it’s you and ONE of the kids and it’s all wonder and glory and deep conversation. I just give thanks to God in those moments. Here’s a tip for you: don’t try a family day out to Ikea on a Saturday afternoon. Hell.

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