Creating Quality Time by Ignoring the Clock

Last Saturday, when my daughter and I were out running errands, she climbed into the front of the car and, with a huge smile on her face, stood up through the sunroof. “I’ve always wanted to do this!” she shouted, reaching her hands to the sky.

Even though we weren’t moving (we were parked in front of a store), she was having a blast.

“This is so fun!” she laughed.

And that’s how our whole morning went.

She and I had started out earlier to run errands…

I had my list of things to do and was looking forward to being productive.

But a few minutes after leaving the house, as we neared the Starbucks around the corner, a thought came to me…

Three times last week, my daughter asked me if we could get a hot chocolate together.

Three times I said no.

It was, “We have to get to basketball,” and “We have to get to swim team,” and “We can’t, or we’ll be late for cheer.”

As I thought about that, I wanted to make this day different. Our schedule was wide open, and I wanted to make the most of it.

I smiled and looked in the rear-view mirror. “Want to go to Starbucks? Just us girls?”

Her eyes got wide. “Sure!”

We sat at a table outside.

As we ate, we sprinkled crumbs on the ground and watched the birds.

We talked…

About how she felt about going into fourth grade.

And what her favorite thing about the summer was.

We saw a dog that reminded her of our dog Lady (who died a couple months ago), and we talked about God and Heaven.

We must’ve sat there for an hour, but I’m not sure.

I never checked the time.

After Starbucks, we headed to Linens-N-Things, where, halfway through the store, my daughter discovered the massage chairs.

“Mommy! We have to try these!”

She plopped into one of the chairs and pushed the Demo button. She laughed as the mechanical rollers went up and down her back.

I have to admit, normally, I’d watch her for a few minutes and then hurry her along.

But instead, I plopped into the chair next to her and smiled. “All right. How do you turn this thing on?”

We sat there for a long time, laughing and “oohing” and “ahhhing” through our massages.

We even got a few stares from people walking by.

Which made us laugh harder.

The next stop—a gift store—was just as fun. We held hands and browsed the aisles, taking our time.

And in our browsing, we found something that we never would’ve spotted had we been doing errands my way, at full speed. On a bottom shelf, tucked in the corner, was a box of large magnifying glasses–the exact size magnifying glass my son has been wanting for weeks.

It’s wonderful the things you discover when you’re not in a hurry.

And it’s amazing the quality time that can be created, simply by ignoring the clock.

When you think about it, my daughter and I didn’t do anything “special” on Saturday.

But, really, we did.

In the midst of ordinary things, we had an extraordinary time together.

And I was reminded that I don’t have to make grand plans to create special memories with my kids.

I just need to focus on them.

And slow down.

And ignore the clock.

“We should make this a tradition,” my daughter said after we finished our errands and headed home that day.

“We should,” I agreed.

And spending time like that may just end up being our best tradition ever.


  1. I’mnot even going to wipe that tear rolling down my cheek, as it is filled with so much joy. I LOVE to read about taking time to honor and apprecaite our children! Thank you for this well timed reminder-and thank you Jesus as well!- about how easy it is to make someone else’s life better.Go bless-Amanda

  2. Sounds like such a wonderful day. I also LOVE girl time with my daughters! Last week I took my girls and a friend of my daughter’s to the mall, and I also had the distinct realization that we didn’t have any real time constraint that day, which is somewhat unusual it seems. That realization was so freeing–and we just enjoyed so much our girl day of shopping, people watching, giggling, and being silly! I can relate to people looking at you funny as they walk by. We were taking the girls’ pictures with the mannequins in different stores, and at first I was apprehensive about the people that were looking at us as they went by! Then I just gave in to being silly with the girls, and who cares! All the pictures are on my phone. I’ll have to post one when I can figure out how to get them off my phone. LOL!

  3. Such a beautiful reminder to us all. With 4 small kids, I rarely stop to enjoy the moment. I have any easier time doing it with my little ones but the child who really needs it is my big one. I am going to plan a date right now!

  4. Funny, 2 Shannon’s in a row. I was a little confused for a minute. Thought I commented already and forgot:)

  5. Sounds like a perfect day to me! Glad you and your daughter had so much fun.

  6. Beautiful post.It reminded me of some of the special moments I’ve shared with my daughter lately. And that I don’t want to miss in the future.

  7. Such a sweet day and such a great advice. Sometimes ignoring the clock really is like stopping time to take it all in :)

  8. Slowing down, ignoring the clock, saying yes more, drinking hot chocolate together … this post is lovely!I need to practice these things more often and not just think about them.

  9. I LOVE this!I am so task-oriented that I keep wanting to hurry through even the “quality time” I spend with my baby. It goes against everything in me to just sit and play with her – I want to make everything educational at least. And yet those clock-free moments are incredibly educational, I think.

  10. starbucks makes me wanna stand up thru the sunroof!! this was a precious post and a very good reminder to this busy mama. sometimes i cringe when i crawl in bed and wonder if i ever snugged my boys enough and told them i loved them that day. i surely need to see life thru their eyes and agenda and time clock more! loved this one.

  11. Hi! Just found my way here through Laura’s blog.What a great recap of your fun day. It was very well-written. I’ve found that days like that make the best memories. It’s very hard for me to have one on one time like that with each of my three children, especially when two of them are twins.Karen of the MomDot Street

  12. ngsawesome just awesome……for sure kids spell LOVE as TIME….

  13. I love this post. It makes me think of the times I’ve spent with my kids doing “nothing” and having a blast. Laughing until we cried. :)The special one is going to the bookstore together, grabbing each a book and sitting at the cafe talking, reading, eating. Even though they are both teens, we still love doing this.

  14. We all need to stop and drink hot chocolate more often. Life gets too busy with our ‘lists’ ~ and we forget to live ‘life’.Thanks for the reminder.

  15. Sounds like a great day. I love it when I can manage that. My son, husband and I did that the other day. My daughter’s on a trip with my mother, and after dropping them off at the airport noticed the Star of India and just decided to go walking there. Then dinner at McDonald’s with a nice, long playtime.Lots of fun

  16. I don’t have kids, but I love it when my husband and I can do this. We haven’t in awhile, but I like it when we just spend the day *not in a hurry* and discovering new things to talk about.

  17. Ahhhh, wonderful and relaxing summer time! I am so blessed to be able to spend time like that with my children also. Loved the post as always!

  18. So well said. What a great reminder. Simple but so effective…to just focus with all of your time and attention. :)

  19. that is really sweet. i needed to be reminded of this because i am right in the beginning of the teen years and it’s rough!

  20. These memories you created will mean so much to her…that is beautiful. It made me smile, because I also just had a Starbucks date with my little one last week, even though she’s only 2 1/2. She loved it. :)

  21. Oh, I love this post! It makes me less sad about my daughter growing older (she’s entering first grade). Amazing how those “unplanned” special times can be some of the best ever. Thanks for sharing!

  22. I love those kinds of days. DS (5) and I had one recently and I commented on how I missed having those days with him (they’re more rare since his little brother came along). He said, “Yeah we used to do this more before Boo and Daddy were born.” May you have lots more days to ignore the clock!

  23. Amy

    That is so wonderful. She really appreciated your time and attention. And it was probably great for you too. Thank you for the reminder.

  24. I have a daugher (now 32) who claimed “it’s a tradition” every time she did something she loved at least once. It’s now a tradition that she brings grandson down every other weekend because we always visited her Pop-Pop that way. Loved this post!

  25. I am so looking forward to these kind of moments with my daughter! I pray that I remember to slow down and not watch the clock too.Thanks so much for sharing this, Genny!

  26. Thanks for visiting my blog earlier. I am so glad I popped over here. My daughter is going into 5th grade, and I already see this openness closing up (just a bit).She always loves it when we do something like that, and I also too often say “no.”

  27. Genny,Really beautiful – so inspirational to me as I find myself in this stage of diapers and fit throwing.:) The sweet moments are intermingled with the tough and sometimes I find myself missing out on the sweet as the tough leads me down a path of exhaustion. Your writing is a beautiful reminder to enjoy the moments and create the moments.I’m so glad you receievd the bag and chocolate and that you enjoy them. :) You seem so sophisticated to me that when you won my little homemade creation I was a bit sheepish. I told my sister Trish that you probably have so many beautiful designer bags and such that this would look silly in your house (I’m just insecure like that…). You’ve been so kind in your comments to me. :)

  28. oh oh I love it – so true – just to be in the moment and not look at the clock- Thanks for the post p.s. my daughter is entering the fourth grade also!

  29. Genny those are memories your daughter will be sure to remember for a lifetime. What a great reminder that we need to stop and spend some time w/ our family and not worry about the time.

  30. I have days like those with my daughter’s every once in awhile. Not often enough really.It’s amazing how much you can learn about them when you just slow down.Thanks for stopping by my Spot today after seeing my post on Musings!

  31. This is fantastic, Genny. I loved this part, “And I was reminded that I don’t have to make grand plans to create special memories with my kids.I just need to focus on them.And slow down.And ignore the clock.”I need to take your advice and act on your example. I’m going to. I really am.

  32. i am the mum who constantly says “not right now” “maybe tomorrow” or “hurry up we dont have the time”. Why not now? What are we hurrying towards? I will be definitely stopping and taking the time to do things my kids want to do with me cause they dont stay kids for long. Thank you for opening my eyes. God bless you. lisa

  33. :) I loved the post!! It really touched my heart. I need to slow down and stop watching the clock. Thank you for sharing!!

  34. What a smart Mom you are to take full advantage of a calm Saturday. Special times like that seem to be a rare thing nowdays with the busy schedules we have. Good for you!

  35. What a sweet day you had! I remember when my daughter was about that age and one night she sat in my lap (which was veerrry unusual for her as she didn’t want me to be too affectionate anymore) and I sang her the worship songs I had sung when she was a baby.What a sweet age too!!

  36. I have you in my google reader. I stumbled upon your site a while ago, not entirely sure how – I can’t remember now.But I enjoy your posts. You have a beautiful writing style.Do you mind if I put you in my blogroll?-heather

  37. Hi Genny! Feel free to visit my blog, as you have received an award!God bless!Amanda

  38. Lovely story!! I really struggle to do this with my four, but I feel the same way when I have these moments of engagement and it reminds me what is important, to stop watching the clock and enjoy my kids fully!!

  39. This brought tears to my eyes. Yet another wonderful post you have done. These are the type of days I want to experience with my kids and I wish that I had memories like this with my mom.

  40. This is a wonderful post and you are a wonderful mother. I love my mother – really – I love her deeply. But she never did this kind of thing with us. She was even a stay at home mom until I was roughly 11 when she went back into teaching, but there was always something that needed to be cleaned or she was in a rush to get dinner on or the garden needed to be weeded. Now she is in her mid 70s and the most frequent words out of her mouth are “I am so worried about __________ .”(fill in the blank)She was so young when she had me – 24. I am 46 now and no children and I am certain that I am still too young to be a mother. I don’t blame her at all because I turned out OK except for an inexplicable tendency to grab “worrying” as my first choice when dealing with anything. I think maybe if she had done these kind of spontaneous things with us just for the enjoyment of it she might be less worried today.

  41. totally resolved to make some time with no time restrains… asap! great post.

  42. This is such a good reminder! I always wanted to have a day like this with my mom, but as the oldest of 7 kids, she often seemed to be a little too busy. Which is why I believe that little moments like this mean everything! You are incredibly thoughtful Genny.

  43. Hi Genny,I found you because you found me! Thank you for visiting my blog! I wanted to comment on this post specifically because I was just thinking and praying about this concept yesterday…slowing down and just being with my daughter instead of being in “project” mode, which I am most of the time. Last night I sat and read book after book with my daughter (who is almost two and has piles and piles of board books). The time passed quickly and I was so blessed that I didn’t feel the need to “just do this one thing first,” like I usually do. I just sat with her. That’s all she wants from me, and why is it so hard for me to slow down and just be with her? So, when I read about you having hot chocolate with your daughter, it brought tears to my eyes. I am hoping for the day when my daughter and I can do the same. Thanks, and it was so nice to “meet” you!-CarrieP.S. Sorry for such a long comment!

  44. Good for you! It’s so hard to take the time sometimes, but obviously the rewards are great! My daughter and I went to visit my alma-mater over the weekend – and then we went to the state fair (just the girls.) We need to do this more often! The dynamic is so different without my husband and son.And about the clock – I always know I’m going to be late anyway – why bother watching it??Awesome post.

  45. Oh my! You made me cry…again. You really are an incredible writer.I look forward to having plenty of these "mommy/daughter dates" with my girls as they grow older. :)

  46. Pingback: Life won’t end (and we won’t ruin our kids)… :: Genny Heikka

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