Moms Used to Be in Better Shape Because They Did More Housework

The Mayo Clinic recently released the results of a 45-year study that basically found that women are fatter these days because we spend more time watching TV and browsing websites and less time cleaning our houses, cooking, folding laundry, and chasing after our kids.

Naturally, some women are totally annoyed by this conclusion and believe this kind of thinking belongs back in the '50s. It leaves out a host of other reasons why obesity is more prevalent these days. A rise in two-income families means less time spent cooking healthy meals simply because the time isn't always there is just one of many examples.  

But the study shouldn't be thrown out the window, either. As a former working mom who now works from home, I can assure you: house and mommy duties keep you active and in good shape.


I worked for several years outside of the home and I've never been more exhausted than I have in these past few months when I made the switch to caring for my toddler and working from home. A typical day as a working mom was no picnic, but I was able to sit still for most of the day, stare at a computer screen, and even (ssshh) shop online during my lunch break. At lunch, I could visit one of a million eateries and munch on ridiculously delicious food. And my husband and I didn't feel guilty about ordering dinner three nights a week because we were "stressed" from our duties as working parents.

My baby's caretakers changed most of her diapers and, by the time I arrived home at 5, she had already run out of steam. It left me with three hours before she was in bed and I could turn on the TV.

When you work from home or stay at home with the kids, things are very different. There is no downtime. I wake up an hour before everyone else so I can get a head start on work. Then I make breakfast, wash dishes, tidy up, throw a load of laundry in, attempt to work while continually fielding my child's questions and needs, make lunch, take her out somewhere so she can get some exercise, put her down for a nap and work some more, attempt to complete an exercise video while my toddler jumps all over my back, start dinner, clean up, give her a bath, read stories, put her to bed, work another hour. 

And this is my schedule on days when I'm not grocery shopping, picking up things we need at various stores, and trying to really clean my apartment -- you know, old-fashioned vacuuming, dusting, and mopping, the fun stuff. 

My husband could and does help. But he also works hard outside of the home so that I can stay at home and we do not have to spend an exorbitant amount of money on daycare. So yes, most of the household responsibilities fall on my shoulders, and it makes sense to me that they do right now. 

There are few things I can think of that will keep you moving more than raising small kids and keeping your house in order, which is why the results of this study make total sense to me. I can't even imagine having to use a washboard to clean our clothes or helping out on the farm, like my grandmother did. No wonder she could eat three bowls of pasta a day and still weigh 100 pounds.

Do you think there's a link between obesity in women and a reduced amount of housework?


Image via dok1/Flickr

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