happy african american mother and daughter piggyback outdoors

Worrying about whether we spend enough time with our children plagues just about every working mom I know.

We literally calculate the hours and minutes. I know I have. Between waking up and leaving for childcare/school—let’s see, that’s about 60 minutes on a good day. From picking them up from childcare/school to putting them to bed at night—hmmm, about 2.5 hours if I get home on time. Don’t forget weekends, glorious weekends. And vacations! Can’t leave those out.

Are all those piecemeal moments going to add up to happy, healthy children? Turns out, the number of hours doesn’t matter. This according to the first large-scale longitudinal study of parent time, as reported in the Washington Post by Brigid Schulte (a working mom herself, and author of the book Overwhelmed).

In fact, it appears the sheer amount of time parents spend with their kids between the ages of 3 and 11 has virtually no relationship to how children turn out, and a minimal effect on adolescents.

You can read the entire article for all the juicy reasons and proof that “face time” doesn’t determine the destiny of our children. You might be wondering what does matter, then? It’s not time. It’s quality time. So how about instead of fretting over the combination of mornings, evenings, and weekends, we think more intentionally about how we spend those moments with our kids?