Quality Time Without Expectations

Sometimes all you need is a good cry and a hug, and the space to just be able to do that and for that to be OK.

Today was a harder day. Work was exhausting, and instead of coming home to big smiles and running hugs, the kids were fussing, tantrumming, or crying at every little thing. It’s sometimes hard to not get disappointed – I have so little time with the kids that I just want our routine to go pleasant and smooth, to be quality time.

But what I realized today is that quality time isn’t just about smiles. My son was just not having it today, not too dissimilar from the moment in this photo. Though part of me just wanted to move on with our bath and bed routine, I realized what he needed was some time to sit, to be held, and just be able to be free to let his emotions out. We found a quiet corner together, and he just wanted to cry and cry while being held tight. After a while, he started calming down. And as I rocked him, he slowly starting rocking back against me, until it became a little game…and before I knew it, I started hearing some giggles.

While that might not have been what I pictured quality time to be, it was quality in the sense that we were able to be completely present with each other – to sit in that place of emotion and get through it together. I held him so tight and vice versa, and it was a powerful moment full of love even if it was also full of tears. It was what he needed in that moment – a special moment that changed the course of the rest of the evening.

It was a helpful reminder to let go of my expectations of what our time spent needs to look like. Had I fixated myself on what I wanted the evening to be, I think we would’ve both had a bad night. But by releasing those expectations and tuning into what he needed in that moment, we were able to connect in a meaningful way.

PS – The rest of the night turned out great.

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