On September 29th working mothers took a hit on the chin when results of a new UK study on childhood obesity were released.
The Institute of Child Health study of more than 12,500 five-year-olds found those with working mothers were less physically active and more likely to eat unhealthy food. Or, as the BBC so provocatively summed it up: “Working Mothers’ Children Unfit.” Buttoned Up’s working moms Alicia and Sarah share their thoughts and reactions to the study.
Sarah on “Lose the Mom Guilt”
“As a working mother, my immediate and visceral reaction to the study was: guilt, guilt, guilt! But once the guilt subsided a little, I thought: wait a cotton-picking minute, aren’t ALL moms working moms? And aren’t we ALL pressed for time? And furthermore, where are the dads in this story? The blame on working moms was kind of maddening. At the very least I thought the headline should have read: “Children of Dual-Income Families Unfit.” Incredibly fathers weren’t a part of the study – primarily because their status in the workforce hadn’t changed much in the past 20 years. Even so, don’t you think their role as hands-on parents has?
The above reactions took place in the span of about a minute. So it’s safe to say my curiosity was piqued. My next step was to go check out the study. It was pretty interesting – 12,500 families were studied, which is a lot. Amazingly, the study showed that children of working moms before adjusting for income and education had healthier eating habits and watched fewer hours of TV. Once the curve was pulled down though, the findings switched. That said to me – if you’re lucky enough to have full-time help, you’re probably doing just fine. If you can’t, you likely need more support.
Net/net: the headline on the study was deliberately sensational, which I don’t think helps anyone. But, the study did underscore something I already knew was important: working moms (of all stripes) are pressed for time and need help/good ideas/education when it comes to making healthier choices given those time constraints. That includes me. The good news is, eating healthily and getting out from behind the TV isn’t that hard to do if you organize yourself just a little bit.”
Alicia on “Look for Shortcuts – There ARE Healthy Ones”
“When I heard the headline, my immediate reaction was – hey, working moms already carry enough of a burden of guilt – do we really need more? I believe that working mothers provide a good example to their children, they gets to see their moms in a different light. It’s not a right or wrong thing – stay-at-home moms are also great examples to their children, just in a different way. So can we please just drop the working mom vs. stay-at-home mom spin and just get to what really matters: healthier families!
For working moms, it just comes down to organization – and finding easier ways to make choices that are healthier for your children. Fortunately there’s never been a time when it’s been easier or cheaper to feed your child well. Take frozen veggies, for example. Steamers take 3 minutes to cook, they’re not expensive, and they’re a healthy addition to any meal.
Since time is the one thing that working moms don’t have, just admit that you need to build in shortcuts when it comes to planning and preparing meals — just not at the expense of health and wellness. The fact is, you’re going to be beat when you come home from a long day of work, so whipping up a ‘perfect’ meal isn’t necessarily reasonable. But the great thing is, there are literally hundreds of ways to get healthy meals on the table in little or no time, often right at your fingertips online. For example, try prepping veggies on Sunday evenings rather than during the week. That alone can cut meal prep time during the week by 10-15 minutes each night.”