A Suggestion For Dad's Quality Time

Is there anything as endearing as the image of a father playing dollhouse with his little daughter? It is perhaps beaten only by the classic dad having a little tea party with his baby girl.

But how often does that happen, dads? Never? Almost never? Yeah, that's not a thing you're going to do every day. As it turns out, spending time with the kids has turned out to be a lot of work.

Perhaps a small suggestion of mine can help. And if you make a habit of having tea parties with your daughter all the time, congratulations, you kick ass at fatherhood. Read on anyway, maybe this will save you some lavorum.

As you've probably already figured out, simply spending time with the kids is the highest priority. "Quality" is too subjective a thing to worry about. But you also know that hanging out in front of the TV doesn't quite count as "hanging out". It's just that...well...the whole tea party thing is so exhausting after you've done it once!

Well, yeah. It's cute once, and your daughter will love it, but it's not who you are, and that's what your kids love best of all. Your kids love their dad. What makes tea parties so exciting to them is the novelty. But the big strong dad who goes to work every morning and thunders home in a cloud of sweat and trouble and joy and laughter is the dad they love.

The things you should be doing with your kids are the things you already like to do.

Seriously. I don't think I've ever done a tea party with my daughter, who's now ten. But I do remember buying her a tiny french press to match mine. That was special to her because her dad drinks coffee. She was hanging out with dad doing what dad loves. And best of all, I drink coffee every morning. There was no lack of opportunity for coffee moments with daughter.

I like Thai food. I took my daughter to Thai once. Didn't ask if she'd like to. Just did it. Now Thai is our thing.

Do you like shooting hoops? Shoot hoops with your kids. Hate baseball? Don't feel bad about not playing baseball with them. Parents often fall into the trap of thinking they're responsible for entertaining their kids. But they're not. They can go read a book. Or throw a ball against a wall. Or they can ask you if you'll shoot hoops or play Risk, because they know that works almost every time.

Involve the kids in your household activities. Are you mowing the lawn? Bring 'em. Are you brewing beer? Bring 'em. Are you pulling up your entire kitchen floor, as we painfully did last week? Bring 'em. My kids loved doing the floor, by the way. Behold:

Be willing to have your kids everywhere with you. I have plenty of time on my own, and I don't feel guilty about leaving them behind, but I make a habit of taking my kids to the places I go. This is especially true of hobbies and hobby-likes. Do I have rugby practice? Maybe I can bring the kids. Checking out a new brewery? Bring the kids. Going to the Confederate War Museum? Bring the kids. Children doing dad's things with dad have their identity reinforced. They want to know that they, too, like the Eagles and artisan cheeses and carpentry and love poems. That's not my list, by the way, that's a theoretical. Only bad guys like the Eagles.

So that's my suggestion. Don't go too far out of the way to do kiddy things with the kiddies. Bring them along on the things you do. You'll discover that's a whole lot more time, with a whole lot less planning.

By the way, if you don't like to do anything that can be shared with kids, you've got to do an emergency re-examination of your pleasures.

P.S. The kids just asked if I would read them a bedtime story. I said, "No, go away, I'm writing."


  1. Great post! I think one of the great joys of spending time with your kids is introducing them to your various interests, one by one, just to see which ones they're into. My daughter is only 2 and a half, but I've discovered that she loves astronomy, and really quickly learned all 8 planets' names (in English and Chinese), so now learning more about the solar system together is out thing. Very cool!

    We also looks for bugs outside, and play catch.

    (I'm not encouraging traditional "girly activities" at all... I'll let her mom do that, if she wants.)

  2. Good times. It was hard to read the words "eight planets", I have to admit.

  3. Good thoughts, Joffre! I found them helpful. As of late I've been evaluating my time with my girls, and you've certainly provided some helpful fodder for thought.

    As for the Eagles. I always found David Crosby's response to the question of what he thought of The Eagles funny. He put his hand on his mouth and faked a yawn.


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