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Toddling Through the Silicon Valley

By Cheryl Bac

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About this blog: I'm a wife, stay-at-home mom, home cook, marathon runner, and PhD. I recently moved to the Silicon Valley after completing my PhD in Social Psychology and becoming a mother one month apart. Before that, I ran seven marathons incl...  (More)

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Just 5 minutes

Uploaded: Sep 30, 2016
Earlier this week I saw Quaker's "It only takes 5 minutes" ad. As we get back into the regular school-year routines, it's nice to be reminded to take the time, even just 5 minutes at a time, to connect with our little ones.

However, if I really only had 5 minutes to hang out with our kids, I personally would not choose most of the activities suggested in this ad. Dancing, doing an art project or showing our kids photos from an album can keep their interest for a much longer period of time. 5 minutes would just be the beginning. And I would expect two unhappy kids when I told them that our 5 minutes of time together was over.

When I really only have 5 minutes to connect with our kids, I find it much more enjoyable, for all of us, to do activities more like the ones shown in a First Five California Commercial or the adorable book, Kisses for Daddy. Talking with them and telling stories while I unpack groceries, drive them to a play date, fold the laundry, or get ready for bed.

While it's not the same as giving our kids my undivided attention, these conversations give us the opportunity to spend more time together on busy days and seem to work better for our family when I really only have five minutes.
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 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Midtown Mom, a resident of Midtown,
on Oct 4, 2016 at 10:03 pm

It's pretty obvious that you missed the point of the Quaker ad, which is to spend 5 minutes of undivided time with your kids. The First Five ad is an entirely different message, which is to talk, read, and sing to your kids when they are ages 0-5. As pointed or in the ad, this can be done while multitasking - sing while you fold laundry, talk while driving, etc. Talking to your children as you perform other tasks isn't quality time because it lacks a fundamental component of connecting which is undivided attention. As a working mom, my time with my children is limited and quality time is even more precious. I find it extremely important to connect with them full mindedly everyday for as long as possible, even 5 minutes has a positive impact.

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Posted by Cheryl Bac, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Oct 4, 2016 at 11:56 pm

Cheryl Bac is a registered user.

Midtown mom - Thanks for reading and for commenting. I agree, there is a difference between giving our kids undivided vs divided attention. However, I think it is possible to spend quality time connecting with kids while also completing another task (making dinner, eating dinner, driving to school, folding laundry, getting ready for bed, etc).

The Quaker ad suggested a couple of similar multitasking activities ("sing like no one is watching" while driving and "play high, low and unexpected" while having a snack together).

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Posted by Mother of 4 , a resident of Palo Verde School,
on Oct 5, 2016 at 9:14 am

I'm not sure if I have seen either of these but I think quality time is important but can't always be decided upon. I don't think it is possible to say I have five minutes now so I will spend it doing quality time with my child. That may not work because of many reasons. However, I do find that quality time of 5 minutes can just happen when you least expect it.

A child may come to you with a question, or to show you a flower or a leaf, and suddenly that time and that conversation suddenly becomes precious. A child may also come to you while say folding laundry and together you can start matching socks, or dividing clothes into a pile for each family member, and that combined activity becomes quality interaction. In other words, if we are ready and watching, quality time happens because whatever it is that a parent and child does together suddenly becomes fun. An example I always think of is the time my son decided to "shave" with my husband each morning. Of course the boy had nothing to remove, but the activity of copying Daddy with the razor took on a special time for them together each morning as he called his son so that they could shave together. It lasted for several weeks before son became disinterested, but it is a lovely memory for them both to look back on, I hope.

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Posted by Cheryl Bac, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Oct 5, 2016 at 12:56 pm

Cheryl Bac is a registered user.

Mother of 4 - Thanks for sharing the memory about your husband and son shaving together. Great point about a lot of quality time being initiated by children and being unplanned. It's great when our kids ask to join me cooking or baking. Or when they suggest an activity, such as reading or looking for bugs, to do together. Whenever possible, I try to be available for these moments.

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