Posts Tagged ‘ stay at home moms ’

Are Working Moms Making Their Kids Fat?

Thursday, September 20th, 2012

I often joke that I’m the busiest unemployed person I know. Between a 2 1/2 year old, an 8-month old, and my pretend career, I have zero time. And I have a full-time nanny (Cleo) and a cleaning lady.

So it came as a huge surprise to me that a new study shows that working moms spend a whopping 3 1/2 hours less on their kids’ meals and exercise regimes than stay-at home-moms (SAHM).

First of all, that’s it? I would think it would be much more, considering that I can barely find time to work out or put a proper dinner on the table. Cleo helps us with meals and between all of us, my husband included, we manage. (The study also said husbands don’t pick up the slack.  Mine does in many ways, though meals are expected to come from me. And I do the best I can.)

Sidenote: Phil did ask one day why Fia was eating so many chicken nuggets:

Me: “Because lately I haven’t had the have time to make good meals.”

Him: “We can’t become those people who only feed her one type of food.”

Me: “Then help me come up with a menu for the week for all of us.”

Him: (Shrug shoulders. Subject dropped.)

Me: (Looked at a cookbook–Ellie Krieger–that night and came up with meal plan.)

Him: (Meetings at night the rest of the week.)

Me: (Didn’t waste time making a meal for myself. Fia and I just winged it, which probably included chicken nuggets for both of us.)

Conclusion: Neither of us became obese.

I bring up obesity because the study actually states that the lack of parental involvement in a child’s diet is linked to obesity, regardless of socio-economic status. Huh?

The study was done by Cornell University and is in the current online issue of the journal of Economics and Human Biology.  In it, the authors say “…the findings are consistent across socio-economic lines measured by the mothers’ education, family income, race and ethnicity.”

This makes no sense. It has been reported time and time again that obesity in children is directly linked to socio-economic factors. The poorer people in this country have children with higher obesity rates. Doesn’t mean we all can’t stand to get fit and healthy, but the generalization towards working moms just irks me. First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative is all about changing our lifestyle through education. We need to educate everyone: Caregivers, schools, parents, etc., on proper nutrition and exercise. An excerpt from the First Lady’s site states:

The threat of childhood obesity to the health of our children and the health of our nation has never been greater. Over the past three decades, childhood obesity rates in America have tripled. Today, almost one in every three children in our nation is obese or overweight. The numbers are even higher in African American and Hispanic communities, where nearly 40% of the children are overweight or obese.

To now link this obesity issue to working moms is preposterous, in my opinion. As if us moms don’t have pressure enough already.  Now working moms have to feel guilty for making their children fat? Please. Everyone read my post on The Failure Hour. I now have another reason to celebrate my inadequacy as a parent.

Fia, Your Mom Pretends to Work. Therefore, You Might Get Fat. Sorry, Baby!

I’m not a scientist, nor do I understand all the research a study like this undertakes. I won’t bash the authors because they are just reporting their findings, but how many reports and studies do we need to tell us how to “be” a proper mom? How many millions of dollars do we need to spend researching pure logic? As my fellow blogger Heather Morgan Shott says in High-Chair Times:

“Instead of fanning the flames of the mommy wars by comparing working moms to nonworking moms, why don’t these researchers redirect their efforts to curing cancer?”

Amen, sister.

My good friend Hulda, who just moved to LA from Iceland, is here with me while I write this. She is a PhD professor. She actually pulled the study for me and read it (bless her). She finds the hoopla this study is causing just plan silly (and some of the data a little questionable).

“In Iceland, 96% of moms work. It is just the norm,” she told me. “Almost all kids are in daycare from a young age.”

I’ve been to their country. It’s an amazing place. Theirs is a culture with an incredibly high standard of living. Their kids become productive citizens. Their babies aren’t missing out because the moms are working. Oh, and by the way, their obesity rates don’t come close to ours, though they are rising. But I’m guessing it’s not because the moms work (which has been the norm for decades there). I would bet a Big Mac that it’s because our American companies have saturated their market with all our crap. Soda, fast food, you name it. Those entities are the real enemy. Corporate greed at any and all cost.

At least New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg gets it. His soda ban (any sugary beverage over 16 ounces is O-U-T) passed this week. I believe it’s his most brilliant move to date. But I’m getting off track.

This whole argument becomes so circular. If you spend a couple hours less per day with your toddler, then we have to assume he/she is in daycare or with a nanny. Therefore, 2 of their 3 meals are taking place without you. So really it’s the daycare or nanny who is feeding your kid crap. Which I doubt is the constant in all this. But if it is, fix it. This isn’t rocket science.

Any child over 5 is in school full-time whether the mom works or not. So when they get out of school at 3 pm, make sure they don’t have a house full of Doritos to come home to. (The study says that unsupervised children are more likely to eat poorly. Wow, that’s a shocker.)

Come on people, this is basic stuff. Whether you stay at home or work, just love your child, feed them nutritious meals, have whomever is watching them feed nutritious meals, have them exercise with or without you, and instill the importance of healthy living.

Then, at the end of the day, plop down on your couch with your favorite glass of wine (red is better for you), and give yourself credit for making it through another day as a mom who is simply doing the best she can.

 

Photo of fat kid courtesy of Shutterstock

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My Sitters Are Driving Me Crazy–Part 2

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

I was a bit surprised by the firestorm my blog set off. I was pondering it with my girlfriends Tuesday morning at the playground when a very strange thing happened.

A woman I had never seen came running up to us. She was almost in tears.

“Have you seen a blue baby blanket?” she asked frantically. (Her name is Julie.)

We shook our heads no.

“My sitter took it out with my son today and lost it!! It is his special blanket that was made from yarn we got in Australia. I let them take it because his father had to fly to Australia today and my son wanted to hold it. I even told her to be careful with it,” she said, clearly distraught.

My gals and I looked at each other, mouths hanging open.

“You gotta talk to HER!” my friend Stephanie said, pointing at me. It was like the universe sent Julie to me. Divine intervention reinforcing the point of my blog.

She went on to say, “You know the most ridiculous thing about this? I am paying my sitter to watch my son while I go searching for it.” I nodded. Been there too. It’s on my mom-crutch post.

Now before conclusions are drawn, let’s step back and think for a second what this argument is really about.

It’s about what we moms define as important. And what our expectations are. And it’s okay to agree to disagree. But I think it goes deeper than that. There was an underlying tone and theme in many of the comments. It speaks to the judgment we cast on each other, particularly the Stay At Home Moms versus the Working Moms.

And so begins Part 2 and 3 of my Sitter Chronicles.

PART 2

LOSING THINGS:

Let’s first answer the question– how do things get lost? Sometimes it boils down to an accident. A mistake. And in that case, yes, get over it. But a lot of times it’s because tots fling things out of the stroller, or throw something in the playground. I know the few times I have lost stuff it’s due to texting while strolling (not something I’m proud of). Or not paying enough attention to what Fia is doing. I accept that my behavior is unacceptable. And I make a conscious decision to be better. So are sitters beyond reproach on that? I don’t think so. Because at the top of their job list is to pay attention to their biggest responsibility: The Child.  Not their phone or their sitter friends. I believe that is exactly how Julie’s baby blanket got lost. And Fia’s things.

DIAPERS:

Dear lord. Diapers are a shit storm—literally and figuratively. I heard you all loud and clear on not checking the diaper bag: guilty as charged. Last Saturday was the first time it happened. And it bit me—and Fia—in the butt. It won’t happen again.

(more…)

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Not A Vacation

Sunday, June 20th, 2010

Did I say last week that having a baby is like being on vacation? Really? Or did a ghost swoop in and steal my computer? Honestly, I went to the museum with a spring in my step, and left with a limp (along with a covering of cheerios, a film of sweat and a coating of baby formula).  Good times.

I thought the exhibit, Race to the End of the Earth (about Antarctica explorers), would put mommyhood into perspective. I guess it did when you consider I nearly sweated to death (instead of freezing to death).

There were four moms and four babes (five if you consider one of us was pregnant. And no, it wasn’t me!). Getting there on the subway took four different trains (thanks to some unplanned MTA service changes). Since this was my grand idea, I tried to keep it light. I told the moms that we would get good exercise schlepping our strollers up multiple stairs. And that seemed to work well, that is, until we had to keep changing trains. Usually you get a Good Samaritan to help carry your baby-in-stroller up the steps. But anyone who saw our caravan was sure to run the other way. Who could blame them?

Once at the museum, we headed straight for the food court. The babies needed things like pizza, an apple, a grilled cheese sandwich and hot water for a bottle. The moms needed a booth to collapse in. I couldn’t believe I was that person, sitting in a cafeteria at 11 a.m. and actually dreading getting up and walking.

tiredofhistory

We finally hit the exhibits. Fia promptly went to sleep at the stuffed mammals (the one thing I thought she would like). We were told the explorer exhibit I wanted to see was an IMAX. And if our babies cried, we’d have to leave. After great debate, we psyched ourselves up. Yes, our babies can do this. We’re going for it. We went to buy tickets, and were told conflicting info: no IMAX.  It was a walk-though. Though for us, it became more of a crawl through experience. But at this point, like the explorers, there was no turning back.

At one point, I was on all fours, chasing Fi under a yurt waving a clean diaper in the air. Nora’s baby Aiden had his first bout of separation anxiety when she ran (pregnant) to the bathroom for 30 seconds. We all danced and sang to him with zero consolation. Visitors scurried past us, not sure why we were performing a jig next to an igloo and a screaming baby. Courtney’s baby Teddy tried to eat the fake ice mountain (the plaque said “Do Not Touch”). Stephanie’s baby Gracen was flinging and contorting her body every which way in the stroller while screaming. In baby speak, she was yelling, “Let me out of stroller jail! I want to be an explorer!”

We exited and looked at our watches. I was sure 5 hours had gone by. Nope. Only 2 ½. How was that possible? We needed to kill more time. We left the museum and bee lined to the only place that could soothe our souls: The Shake Shack on 72nd street. One Shack-Dog later and my nerves began to recharge—at least enough for the subway ride home.

We moms try and get together every Thursday. Each week one of us picks what to do. After this excursion, I think I lost that privilege.

Oh, and P.S. by the time I hobbled home, I was too tired to even watch Oprah. So much for indulging myself with baby.

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Living in the Moment

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

I’m taking Fia to the Natural History Museum this week. My mom friends and I feel like getting out of Brooklyn for the day. There’s an exhibit there: Race to the End of the Earth. It’s about two explorers who in 1911 went to the South Pole and back.  It was an 1,800-mile journey where their endurance and survival skills were up against not only extreme weather and insane logistics, but also THE UNKNOWN. I figure after seeing it, any challenges of motherhood will be put into perspective.

But here’s another little secret: I wanted to go to the Museum—and have for some time. I’ve been a freelancer for years. Every day and week was different. Before I had Fia, I wouldn’t give myself the permission to “indulge.” Rather, I’d sit at my computer and force myself to do something, anything.  I had to be productive. And if I couldn’t, well, then I’d do things like train for marathons. Climb mountains. Or, say, go to Timbuktu.

dirt and dust in Timbuktu, Mali

dust and desert in Timbuktu, Mali

But now I’ve realized something that I hesitate to even share because a) I might feel totally different tomorrow, if Fia has a meltdown and b) I don’t want my husband to see this because then all my whining is negated.  At the risk of both, here it goes:

If you don’t have to work full time, once you get through those first really hard months with a newborn, it’s kind of, in a small way, like being on vacation. Dear Lord, I said it. I’m ducking under my table right now, cringing at my very words.  Let me rephrase: when your baby is 10 months old, like Fi, you can start to entertain yourself and your baby simultaneously. You can do things normally reserved for a weekend—or vacation. (There’s that bad word again).

Having placed so much of my own self worth on career, it was hard for me to go with the flow without a goal at the end. I mean, the other day, I was playing on the floor with Fia, watching Oprah. Halfway through the episode, I put her down for a nap and thought, I better turn off the TV and DO something productive. I can’t just lay here and watch….can I? Well, maybe just a little… And finally, SCREW IT, I’M FINISHING THE EPISODE. (Dare I say I watched another one after?)

Granted, I am a little type-A, so many of you may have been born with the ability to write yourself a permission slip. For me, this is an awakening. Fia has accomplished what no therapist or yogi could: she has, without even knowing it, given me ability to live life in the moment—and make that moment whatever I want it to be, i.e.: Oprah, museums, etc. She is allowing me to enjoy aspects of life without degrees, accolades or medals attached. She has quieted my monkey mind.  And, in many ways, transformed me, by completing me.

soaking in the sun -- and Fia

soaking in the sun -- and Fia

I know this is a finite time. When she starts to walk—or run—a trip to a museum in Manhattan may require Advil (for me) and a leash (for her). And when she goes off to nursery school and beyond, I’ll have chunks of time to fret and worry about furthering my career and not falling behind in the world. But right now, by fulfilling myself, I feel I am fulfilling her. By opening my eyes, I’m opening hers.  Those explorers didn’t know what they would find on the other side. I don’t know either. But for right now, I’m completely living in the moment.

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