Quality time

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Quality time is "the careerists' most treasured rule of parenting: it isn't how much time you spend with your kids, it's how you spend the time",[1] a 1997 Newsweek feature story wrote over twenty years after the phrase emerged.

A New York Times writer who states that "people tend not to operate on cue" concludes that "there's simply no real substitute for physical presence."[2]


Sometimes abbreviated QT, it is an informal reference to time spent with close family, partners or friends that is in some way important, special, productive or profitable to one or everyone involved. It is time that is set aside for paying full and undivided attention to the person or matter at hand. It may also refer to time spent performing some favorite activity.

Relationship counselor Gary Chapman suggests that quality time is one of five "languages" which are used (more or less, preferentially, by a given individual) to express love and articulate their feelings and emotions.

The New York Times wrote about how the "24/7/365" space-sharing induced by COVID-19 forced families into "spending more time together than they ever have, in tight quarters and under stressful circumstances."[3] A 2001 book says that "the three basic tools of parenting are: bribery, extortion and threats."[4][5]


Its use as a noun expression ("quality time") began in the 1970s. One of the earliest records of this phrase in print was in the Annapolis, Maryland (United States) newspaper The Capital, January 1973, in the article "How To Be Liberated":

The major goal of each of these role changes is to give a woman time to herself, Ms. Burton explained. "A woman's right and responsibility is to be self fulfilling," she said. She gives "quality time" rather than "quantity time" to each task, whether it be writing, cleaning the house or tending the children.

The Time Bind, a 1997 book,[6] was mentioned in Newsweek's multi-page feature about Quality Time.[1] The same issue of Newsweek had a full page review[7] of another 1997 book, Time for Life,[8] which had as a major point flaws in most people's "ability to separate faulty perception of time use from reality."[8] Author Robinson's diary-based research shows that 15 hours per week of "free time" (the greatest category of time used) goes into TV viewing.[7]

Quantity Time[edit]

Quantity Time: Moving Beyond the Quality Time Myth[9] is the title of a 1997 book with a full page Newsweek review[10] which has "3 Rs of memory making: routines, rituals and the ridiculous" with the best outcomes deriving from "to eat together at least once a day, with the TV off." 2015's "Quantity Time Begets Quality Time, and Parents Spend Enough of Both"[11] concedes that "quality time" serves "some parents (particularly mothers)" to "release their guilt". It concludes: "It's time to look at our family calendars as half full, not half empty."

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Laura Shapiro (May 12, 1997). "The Myth of Quality Time". Newsweek. pp. 62–68.
  2. ^ Frank Bruni (September 6, 2015). "The Myth of Quality Time". The New York Times.
  3. ^ Ronda Kaysen (April 10, 2020). "Couples Quality Time, All the Time". The New York Times.
  4. ^ Ann Hodgman (June 10, 2001). "Quality Time". The New York Times.
  5. ^ Susan Cheever. AS GOOD AS I COULD BE: A Memoir of Raising Wonderful Children in Difficult Times. Simon & Schuster.
  6. ^ Russell Hochschild, Arlie (1997). The Time Bind: When Work Becomes Home and Home Becomes Work. New York: Metropolitan Books. ISBN 9780805044713. Google Print
  7. ^ a b Marc Peyser (May 12, 1997). "Time Bind? What Time Bind?". Newsweek. p. 69.
  8. ^ a b John Robinson; Geooffrey Godbey (1997). Time for Life: The Surprising Ways Americans Use Their Time. Penn State Press. ISBN 978-0271034263.
  9. ^ Steffen Kraehmer (1997). Quantity Time: Moving Beyond the Quality Time Myth. ISBN 978-0-9251-9030-7.
  10. ^ Barbara Kanrowitz; Anne Underwood; Patricia King; Pat Wingert; Claudia Kalb (May 12, 1997). "Beating the Clock". Newsweek. p. 71.
  11. ^ K.J. Dell'Antonia (March 31, 2015). The New York Times. Missing or empty |title= (help)

External links[edit]