Sorry, Moms, You're Spending Time With Your Kids Wrong (Again)

Hey, moms: Were you planning on sitting down with your family for a nice meal together tonight? Well, put that pot roast away; apparently, you're supposed to be spending your time with your children exercising together instead.


A recent survey on how mothers spend time with their children was conducted by Woman's Day and the Alliance for a Healthier Generation. Shockingly enough, eating together is the most common way moms and kids are likely to share time, followed by TV and homework. And the fact that exercising as a family falls pretty far down most moms' priority list appears to be a source of hand-wringing for the survey team, who worried about the sedentary lifestyle today's kids may be leading if they're not out and about with those lethargic moms of theirs.

Now, I'm pretty far from anti-exercise. My family has a YMCA membership that gets some heavy usage, especially during the winter here in Wisconsin. But I'm not so sure of the utility of conducting a survey like this, especially when the conclusion is "moms are failing, AGAIN".

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First and foremost, I want to know where is the survey about how dads are spending time with their kids. Yes, this one was conducted in a partnership with Woman's Day, but even if you're only polling women, it's not that hard to tack on some extra questions. "Did you go for a walk with your kids this week?" followed by "Did your kids go for a walk with their dad this week?" Ta-da! Then at least the hand-wringing news stories can talk about how parents in general are letting down their sedentary children, and not how just moms are dropping the ball.

Also, and this may come as a surprise to the survey team, many women who work outside the home probably aren't coming home from a nine-hour workday with an hour-long commute on top and thinking, "Hey, you know what sounds like fun? Let's go for a run as a family." They're thinking, "Maybe I can collapse on the couch for a few minutes with the kids before we have to figure out something for dinner." That's not an indictment of moms, that's an indictment of modern office culture.

There are a certain number of things that families have to do each night, and feeding the kids and getting homework done are definitely on that "must" list. Would it be nice if there were time for a family walk or a backyard soccer game to be on the nightly schedule, too? Sure -- but telling moms to just be more active doesn't change the structural reasons that exercise isn't happening in the first place.


Image via © Erik Isakson/Tetra Images/Corbis

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