The Myth of 'Quality Time'
A powerful lesson from Jerry Seinfeld
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The Myth of Quality Time
Several years ago, comedian Jerry Seinfeld did an interview where he talked at length about fatherhood.
In the interview, Seinfeld was asked specifically about Father’s Day.
Does he do anything special to celebrate?
Any specific festivities with his kids?
You’d expect Seinfeld, a legendary comedian, to respond with a funny quip about being a dad.
But he didn’t.
“I don’t need any special days. They’re all special. We spend a lot of time together, and I enjoy every second of it.”
In just a few sentences, Seinfeld shared a few profound lessons.
Lesson 1: Find joy in the ordinary
We tend to glamorize extraordinary events.
Getting a dream job
Winning a championship
But those events are a tiny part of our lives.
Truth is, most of our days are ordinary.
“I’m a believer in the ordinary and mundane,” Seinfeld says.
There’s joy in ordinary.
There’s satisfaction in doing the mundane.
Lesson 2: Relish the “garbage” time
Seinfeld doesn’t believe in the idea of “quality time.”
He thinks it’s a myth that misses the whole point.
“I always find that a little sad when [parents] say, ‘We have quality time,’” Seinfeld said. “I don’t want quality time. I want the garbage time.”
Playing in the backyard
Looking for birds at the park
Watching a movie on the couch
This is “garbage” time as parent.
It’s the absolute best time there is.
Lesson 3: Eat late-night Cheerios
It’s easy to get on the treadmill of life.
Caught up in your goals and routines.
But sometimes, we need to break the rules.
Here’s how Seinfeld described garbage time with his kids:
“You see them in their room reading a comic book and you get to watch that for a minute, or [having] a bowl of Cheerios at 11 o’clock at night when they’re not even supposed to be up. The garbage, that’s what I love.”
It’s a beautiful description of what being a parent — and live in general — is like.
There are these little moments that happen every day, but we’re often too busy to notice them.
We get consumed with our goals and aspirations.
We stay busy trying to optimize every second of the day.
We don’t allow ourselves to eat the late-night Cheerios.
I became a father three years ago.
Today, my wife and I have two sweet little girls.
I’ve thought a lot about Seinfeld’s words since I first read this interview.
And, if I’m being honest, there have been many times where I’ve fallen woefully short of this standard.
I don’t always find joy in the ordinary.
I don’t always relish the “garbage” time.
Sometimes, I get frustrated when the kids want to stay up late.
But every so often, I return to this Seinfeld interview and the wisdom in his words.
It’s a reminder of how precious every day is.
“Quality time” is a myth.
If we’re fortunate enough to wake up in the morning, we get more time.
It’s up to us to make the most of that time and honor it for the blessing it is.
Here’s the interview with Seinfeld one more time.
I highly recommend you take 10 minutes to read it, whether you’re a father or not.
P.S. Happy Father’s Day to my dad and to all the dads who read The Process!
I hope y’all have a wonderful day.
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