Creating quality time by ignoring the clock

*post originally published 2008

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.

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. Oh how I love this post.  I am famous for putting my kids off.  These years are precious.  Thankful for this time you had with your daughter.

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