On any given day, working mothers have many balls up in the air, so it’s no surprise that a study from Cornell University has found moms who work full-time outside the home tend to drop the ball when it comes to their child's diet and physical activity compared to stay-at-home moms.
Working mothers, a Cornell health economist said in the study's news release, spend, “per day, four fewer minutes grocery shopping, 17 fewer minutes cooking, 10 fewer minutes eating with children, 12 fewer minutes playing with children, 4 fewer minutes supervising children, and 37 fewer minutes caring for children. The differences tend to be greatest for mothers with young children (ages 0-5 years).”
Since the eldest of my three kids was born 16 years ago, my parenting habits as relating to my kids’ diet and exercise have evolved. The study notes that working mothers are “significantly more likely to spend time purchasing prepared foods — takeout from restaurants or prepackaged, ready-to-eat meals from grocery stores — which are generally less nutritious than home-cooked meals.” Been there, done that.
But I’ve also learned to plan my meals ahead and try to make the best of my limited time with my kids so we can be healthier. For instance, you can prepare a few nutritious meals on your days off and freeze the leftovers and pop them in the microwave or oven during the week. That way, when you get home after a full day at work, you don’t have to start from scratch or order takeout. Also, instead of taking a full hour for exercise, such as walking or riding a bike, my kids and I just walk around the neighborhood for a half-hour.
As working mothers, we don’t have to do it all and do it perfectly, but we can take a few steps that can go a long way toward better health.