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What I Wish I Would’ve Known About Quality Time

Friends posing in front of hot air balloons


I’m relieved to head into fall break. My two-door slug bug is going to make the eight-hour journey up north, reaching full capacity with two passengers, my cat and all our stuff. I’m most excited for a break away from school that allows me to spend time with the friends and family I don’t get to see often.

Counting down the days until I venture to my hometown, I start planning dates with friends at our favorite coffee shop, a place that wraps its customers in a warm, uplifting environment. We spend hours catching up on the last few months of our lives. It’s like binging your favorite TV show — but better because it’s real. This time together always makes me feel closer to my old friends, even when we depart saying, “Bye! See you in a month…maybe three… or six!”

That time with your loved ones shouldn’t be taken for granted.

Know how to love others well

Selfie with a friend and nature in background

People show love and receive love differently. According to author Gary Chapman, there are Five Love Languages: quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service, gifts and physical touch. You can get an idea for how you receive love by taking the 5 Love Languages quiz. It’s fun to send to your friends and family to learn more about what makes them feel valued.

Quality time fills my soul. One definition that encapsulates it so well is, “time that you spend with someone, giving them your full attention because you value the relationship.” This is my number one love language. I feel uplifted and rejuvenated when I get to be around people doing things that bring joy and comfort.

Recently, I listened to a podcast from “The Porch” and the speaker, Timothy Ateek, said, “quality of time comes from quantity of time”. He explained that a good dad doesn’t spend five minutes a day with his child and says he’s having quality time. You can’t spend a small amount of time with someone and expect the relationship to grow.

I learned that quality time could look different for everyone. It’s easy for me to fill up my week with plans and outings because I want to see everyone and make sure they’re having fun.

I love going on “adventures” with people. Whether it’s rollerblading on the Greenbelt, hiking in the woods or waking up to watch the sunrise, outdoor activities are some of the best human experiences.

But there also needs to be room for the simplicity of just being around people — without any elaborate plans. Sometimes, these are the sweetest moments you can have. I’ve had some of the best impromptu conversations in a parked car and felt the most at peace sitting on a couch next to people I don’t need a social battery to be around.

 

Be intentional

Group overlooking a lake

To strengthen relationships, it’s important to know how your friends, family and significant others give and receive love too. It takes conscious work and deliberate practice to show someone you care about them in the way that they want to be loved. For example, I love giving thoughtful gifts to make others feel special, but I would rather someone give me kind, uplifting words and purposeful quality time instead of a gift.

For someone who thrives on intentional face-to-face time with people, long-distance friends, family and significant others can make showing love and receiving love more challenging. It takes more work to keep growing these relationships through communication and making the most of the time you do get to spend with them. To me, it’s hurtful when someone I don’t get to see very often is preoccupied or doesn’t value our relationship enough to slow down and spend quality time together.

Quality time comes down to being intentional in your relationships and sacrificing time — a precious commodity. To me, this is a defining factor of a true friend and something I wish I would’ve known about new and old friendships.

Choose to do something that brings each person joy and satisfaction. Choose to give the person you’re with your undivided attention. Choose to show them you want to be around them. Choose to move your worries and stressors to the back burner of your mind and present. Past me would have had better quality time if she had listened to this advice.

 

Take time for yourself

Standing on the shore of a mountain lake

Past me would have benefited from learning the value of having time to yourself. I know now that it’s essential for me to take time alone so I can intentionally give my time to other people. How can I give to other people if I’m draining myself? I can’t for very long.

Something I’m constantly practicing is taking care of myself so that I can be there for others. Some seasons of life I’m better at than others. The idea of solitude sounded scary to me in the past, but when I started implementing more of it in my life, I realized how necessary it was. It doesn’t matter if you’re an introvert or an extrovert — everyone needs to be alone to recharge.

One thing I love to do is paint in solitude. The last several projects I’ve done have been gifts for other people which is like saying “Hey, I care about you enough to spend hours of my solitude creating something specifically for you.” Seeing people’s faces when I give them a painting is one of the best feelings. I haven’t painted for myself in a while, but if I don’t paint on my own to improve over time, I won’t produce gifts that are as good as they have the potential to be. The same goes for taking moments for myself so that the moments with the people I love are even richer.

Thanksgiving break goes quickly, so make sure to set aside time to do the things that replenish your soul—even if that means not doing anything. You deserve it. Your loved ones deserve your time too. Don’t take that time for granted.

 

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Author

  • Molly

    Molly

    Content Writer