From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Quality time is an informal reference to time spent with loved ones (e.g., close family, partners or friends) which is in some way important, special, productive or profitable. It is time that is set aside for paying full and undivided attention to the person/matter at hand. It may also refer to time spent performing some favored activity (e.g., a hobby or packing suitcases to move across the world with loved ones). The opportunity to experience quality time, or the actual time available to enjoy quality time is often limited. However, this is outweighed by the importance, intensity or value attached to events or interactions which occur during quality time. Quality time therefore has a degree of emotional or social "quality" which other aspects of personal life may lack.
Busy parents may also use the term to justify the limited amount of overall time they spend with their children.
In terms of critique, it is occasionally pointed out that true quality time with children cannot be rigidly scheduled, but that “quality moments” can happen if there are sufficient opportunities for sharing time and adults adapt to their children's needs and interests.
"Quality time" (noun phrase) is a relatively new expression. Strictly speaking, a word which defines the nature of, or that modifies, a noun would be an adjective, and the adjectival form of the word 'quality' is 'qualitative'. However, the expression 'quality time' has become the more usual expression since the 1970s.
One of the earliest records of this phrase in print was in the Maryland (USA) newspaper The Capital, January 1973, in the article 'How To Be Liberated':-
'The major goal of each of these role changes is to give a woman time to herself, Ms. Burton explained. "A woman's right and responsibility is to be self fulfilling," she said. She gives "quality time" rather than "quantity time" to each task, whether it be writing, cleaning the house or tending the children.'
Since its adoption in the USA the phrase has gradually come into common usage in the UK and other English speaking countries. It can also be defined as one belief.