I really love my child and I want to be a good mother. I want to offer him love, warmth, understanding, care, but also many activities that he will enjoy and be passionate about and that will teach him something. I read books, blogs, websites, Facebook pages about all sorts of activities, advice about his education and behaviour, I try to find him the most appropriate books for his age.

I spend as much time as I can with him. I chose the two year long maternity leave precisely in order to have more time for him and even though I have plenty of other things to do I know I’m spending more time with him then other mothers spend with their children.

And yet, a frustrating feeling that I’m not spending enough quality time with my child has recently started creeping up on me. I am quite aware that spending time with someone doesn’t necessarily mean that time is quality time. While I am with him, I sometimes need to do other things as well, most of them for his own benefit, such as laundry, cooking, cleaning, sometimes I need to talk on the phone, and other times we run errands together.

At the end of one such full day, a day when, although he was by my side the entire time, we had spent almost no quality time together, I told myself: Stop! I don’t just want the impression that I am spending time with my child. I want him to feel it.

What is the solution? I asked myself. And I’ve been thinking about it for a few months now. One way to do things would be to schedule all the activities in advance, at the start of each day or week. This particular solution did help me be more organized, and by that I mean I knew what materials I needed and when to buy them, I never ran out of ideas when he seemed bored with all his toys etc.

But it didn’t completely solve the problem. Spending quality time with your child means more than organizing your day, scheduling your activities and implementing the schedule. Quality time means something else.

Recently, I understood what the missing secret ingredient of this equation was: being present. I understood that, more than anything else, I needed to be there. This meant throwing all my cares away, getting rid of any thoughts about the things I had to do, the calls I had to make, about being tired or being bored. And that if I couldn’t automatically do that then I needed to consciously try and concentrate on the now, on that moment when the little one sat in my lap with a book and asked me to read from it, or when he wanted me to play with his spinning top or to toss him the ball.

Even ten minutes of being present are more valuable than one week of spending all our time with our kids, but thinking about the next days’ menu, about unpaid bills or where to get more money. And the main argument for all this is that all of these thinks make absolutely no sense to him, and that he needs his mother now, 100% present, 150% even, if it were possible. And you know what? It’s actually quite fun!