Despite the fact parents, especially highly educated parents, have sharply increased time with their kids since the early 1990’s, a guest blogger on the Motherlode blog suggests that we spend less time with our kids.
Laura Vanderkam writes that she used to rush through her work day, spending only 40 hours at her job, in order to spend time with her kid, but then she found out that that extra hour in the office was really productive.
But in my zeal to be efficient, I noticed that I’d stopped doing
things that maybe weren’t the wastes of time they appeared to be. I
love to write fiction, but I wasn’t reading any fiction — and hence not
picking up new ideas to improve my craft. I didn’t spend much time
surfing the web, but that made it harder to come up with story ideas…. Periodically though, I’d be a little inefficient — and be amazed at
the results. A quote from Ann Patchett’s Bel Canto turned out to be
perfect for something I was writing. A casual mention of a project at a
PR event led to just the source I needed. I’d give myself an hour to
daydream and would come up with a column idea.
So, she says that she's going to be less efficient with her paid work and more efficient with her time with her kid. She might only have an hour with the kid, but she was going to make it a damn good hour.
If a guy told me that, I would tell him that he was an asshole and to stop hanging out with the guys after work, even though it might be good for his career, and go spend time with his family. So, lady, spend time with your kids!
I'm sure that it is really good for your career to put in 50 hours, instead of 40. But I'm not buying the quality time with the kid thing. Look, people have to work. I get it. Not everybody can be at home full time and, after a certain age, no kid really needs to see their parents every single minute of every single day. But they do need to see a parent for a little while. And if you can spend five hours a day with them, as opposed to one hour, that's a good thing.
It's not a guarantee, but, in general, the more time that you are parenting, the better you will be at it. It's a skill. I would rather have a dentist who practiced his art for five hours a day, rather than a dentist who worked for one hour.
The author speaks of the benefits of quantity time at her job; the same goes for parenting. Sometimes just spontaneous, unplanned moments with the kids are the best ones. You sit around and things happen.
If you've been working that many hours, odds are that you're tired, stressed out, and your mind has not checked out of the office. You're looking at your blackberry and writing down notes for the next day. Your brain isn't at the playground with the rest of your body and the kid.
Other benefits of spending time with your kid come from the comment section at Freakonomics:
HH writes, "Recent research has demonstrated quite conclusively that children who spend more time with their parents are far less likely to get into serious drugs and other self-destructive behaviors."