Earlier this week Claire McCarthy, MD, wrote a Thrive post defending working mothers, in response to a study from the UK linking our busy schedules to increased rates of childhood obesity. The post generated a lot of discussion and several readers chimed in with some great advice for raising healthy kids while working full-time.
What do you think? Are you a working mom or dad with strategies for keeping your kids healthy that could help your fellow busy parents? Advice for juggling work, the kids and dinner on the go? Please join in the conversation by adding your comments below.
Here’s what some readers, both here on Thrive and over on Children’s Facebook page are saying:
“As an obese child of working parents (now an adult), I might suggest looking closely at eating which occurs between the end of the school day and formal dinner time. Without a parent present to maintain a structure around eating – choosing a healthy snack, limiting quantity – those few unsupervised hours can be a dangerous opportunity for binging.”
-anonymous guest poster
“As a single/ working mom… it’s doubly difficult. my kid is in the 75% percentile and i got a talking to by the doctor… society isn’t set up for the single parent household, even though 26.7% are. In 2006, 12.9 million families in the U.S. were headed by a single-parent, 80% of which were headed by a female. We have a higher rate of poverty and are at greater risk for a number of negative social, behavioral and emotional outcomes for children. It’s an uphill battle and now I can add the likelihood of my child being overweight… I agree that schools and child care facilities need to serve better food and offer more activities to help! When I was a kid, I could actually play outside. I could run and play hide and seek, etc… Now a days even if I wanted to let my kid play outside, I can’t because no other parents want their kids to play outside, my daughter would be all alone… it’s just not safe anymore.”
“I disagree with the study also. I am a very busy mom, I am a Massage Therapist and an independent consultant… And I make sure my children always eat healthy!!! In fact I am frequently told by people that my kids are so skinny but when I spoke with their pediatrician about this, and she said NO WAY!!!! That they are both in the 65% percentile for their weight, and in the 90% percentile for their height… and that those people are just so used to seeing overweight children… it is a problem but not all busy mothers put their kids at risk for obesity!!!”
“Well said, Claire! I totally agree! Thanks for speaking up for all the working moms out there. I own & operate a Child Care Center in the metrowest area of Boston. I think my working moms are super heroes!!! As a child care center, we work hard to keep our ‘snacks’ healthy and provide great gross motor exercise both inside & outside. Thanks!”
“I’m divorced with kids and I work full-time. It’s just as easy to prepare a healthy meal as it is to pull up to the drive thru. It’s just as easy to serve a healthy snack as it is to pass them a package of Oreos. It’s about the choices you make, for you and your children. If I don’t like what the school is serving, I make sure they take their lunch that day. This isn’t rocket science, it’s about my kids health.”
“Offensive! I work full-time and my son is in 19th percentile for weight, and 57th for height. He is really thin and eats well. I buy healthy food for our home and hence his nutrition pretty well done – he loves veggies and fruits along with his meats and carbs… Never too busy to be sure he gets what he needs to be healthy!”
“Mom’s always get all the burden put all their shoulders as we are suppose to be superwoman in charge of everything. It is fair to say that dad’s play an important role in their child’s life too. Just because a mom works does not make her any less of a mom, it just means that both mom and dad need to play equally important parts in their child’s life. When my son was born with EA/TEF I was told I would need to quit my job and be a full-time stay at home mom to meet his needs. I found offense to that. In today’s society, it is not a financial option for one parent to work and the other to stay home. Things are just not the way they were when our parents raised us. I work full-time, my son goes to daycare to be around other children since he lived in the hospital for the better part of two years of his life. Both my husband and I worked as a team to get him where he is today and we worked with the daycare and in turn the daycare worked with our son. Obesity is not a mommy problem it is a society problem, the blame should NOT be put on moms alone to bear the burden.”
“I’m not feeling the UK’s stereotypical “study.” I think it’s a vague opinion and totally out of line. I raised my children alone too. I worked full-time. Not only did I run a tight ship but my kids ate healthy and well. Nutrition is key to a healthy life. We mom’s know that. We might be working but we’re certainly not stupid and would never put our children’s health at risk.”
“I’m a full time working mom, have been since day one. I found a gym that has a program for children. My son and I work out together. If there where more places like this around the country and world, there would be less childhood obesity.”
“What people decide to put into their mouths is what is making kids/people overweight, it is no one’s fault except for the person who decides to put junk food into their mouth cause once you eat you will gain weight, it’s a proven fact. It’s not a proven fact that this has to do with single moms. I know plenty of single mom’s who have strict rules with their kids and that is no junk food and to eat healthy, they follow that rule and that is what their kids are gonna grow up knowing, how to eat healthy and be healthy.”
What about a working dad? Should we not feel just as guilty? After all, our evolving society in America has redefined the parental roles and Dad’s are now left with the feelings of “can’t win” attitudes. We have just as much, if not more, guilt because now we can no longer financially support our families as we had been able to historically.”
“I worked full-time with 3 children, not one overweight, ever, not then and not as adults. My mom used to call it ‘Fork and knife disease’ and I must agree that we can and must control what we, as well as our children, eat.”