When our second child was born and had acid reflux, we were really worried that we no longer had the time we did previously to give to our first born. Before our second child, our first child had all of our undivided attention. But, when our second child arrived, our world changed almost overnight, and our new focus was just surviving each and every day as a family.
We worried that missed opportunities with our oldest child would have an impact later on. Our gut was right. Research supports the idea that family time is related to the positive psychological adjustment of teenagers (Crouter, Head, McHale, & Tucker, 2004). In other words, being involved when children are young may prevent issues when they are older.
But here is the good news: These days, "family time" looks different than it did in the 1950s. In fact, the family research shows that it is not so important what the activity is, but whether or not the family members choose the activity. Family time is defined as time spent in joint activities. The research showing that family time improves child outcomes includes doing things together like eating meals, watching TV, participating in active leisure, attending religious activities, and doing housework. Yes, according to the research, even watching TV and doing housework count as family time!
So if you find yourself in the midst of this reflux mess, feeling like you just aren't doing a good job as a parent, try to take some pressure off of yourself. Instead, have everyone join in and help pick up the mess around the house. Then, collapse on the couch with your family's favorite movie. It all counts.