December 4, 2013

"Since 1965, women with children have logged increasingly more time watching television and driving..."

"... and increasingly less time playing with children, doing chores, and exercising, according to a new report published this week in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings."
In 1965, mothers of children aged 5 to 18 spent 14.2 more hours a week being physically active than being sedentary. In 2010, they spent 3.8 more hours a week being sedentary than they did on physical activity.
Interesting, but why did they put driving in the same category with watching TV? Because one sits to do it? Chauffeuring the kids around used to count as one of the child-rearing tasks. I suspect the reclassification has to do with the focus on the woman getting enough exercise. We're so much less concerned with what's good for children that helping them get to their various events and social occasions is equated with lolling about in a recliner.

And why was "playing with children" seen as physically active? Much playing with children involves sitting around while they do things with toys and games. Building blocks, dressing dollies, playing Candyland and Old Maid, operating the electric train — these were all done sitting down. Yeah, there are those running and jumping around kids' games that we played in the 60s — tag, hopscotch, monkey-in-the-middle — but Mommy didn't play those games. It would have been bizarre for Mom to join in on, say, jump rope.

Much of the work of raising children has to do with simply being present and watchful over long periods of time. It's not an exercise routine. If Mother is concerned about burning calories she's probably less vigilant. I grew up in the 1950s and 60s, and my mother didn't play with me. But she was around, relatively nearby when I played. Kids played with kids. Go out and play. Find something to do. And we did. Whether she sat down and whether that sitting involved a TV doesn't matter. It so happens that my mother stood, read the newspaper, and listened to the radio. But you see my point: Child-rearing is not an exercise routine, and our present-day focus on adults getting exercise should be kept separate.

People today are really confused, it seems to me in my old age.


Wince said...

Nose drops. At first I hated nose drops, so my mother would have to chase me and pin my shoulders with her knees to administer the drops.

Then I didn't mind the drops so much, but I loved the chasing and pinning. What little boy wouldn't?

Walter S. said...

"Chauffeuring the kids around used to count as one of the child-rearing tasks" because the kids sat in the front seat like normal people and interacted with their parents. Now we put them in boring boxes in the back. It gives them one percent more chance to survive an accident, but it's still child abuse.

Ann Althouse said...

"… but it's still child abuse."

That reminds me. In the old days, mothers used to spank their kids. That's exercise. Now, they just speak to them and assign them time outs and so forth. Sedentary!

rhhardin said...

Chauffeuring dogs.

And go out and play means with you.

Michael K said...

"Now we put them in boring boxes in the back. It gives them one percent more chance to survive an accident, but it's still child abuse. "

Unless the parent forgets they're there and leaves them in a hot car. Fortunately, my children grew up in the pre-car seat world and survived very nicely.

I ran a trauma center for years and never saw a case where a car seat, or its absence, was a factor.

Deirdre Mundy said...

Housework used to take more work. Vacuums were heavier. Carpets needed beating. Dishwashers were rare luxuries. Laundry needed hanging on the line.

All those modern conveniences Pope Benedict praised for 'liberating' women have made us sluggish and fat!! Now we're free to comment on blogs when we would have been running the house!

Matt Sablan said...

Are they using driving as a stand in for independence?

Sam L. said...

Moms: Always blamed, always denigrated. Cain't do nuthin right.

Auntie Ann said...

In olden days, you didn't have to chauffeur your kids around like you do today. If I wanted to join a club team, it was available within easy biking distance. If I wanted to go for a swim; I could ask, give a time when I'd be back, and walk out the door to the community pool at the high school. Friends were within walking distance, and we arranged to see our friends ourselves, not with chauffeured and over-seen "play dates." We didn't get driven to and from school, unless the weather was particularly awful, which only happened about 3 times a year (in Milwaukee.)

Not-so-fun fact: most kids injured by cars on their way to school, are injured by cars driven by other parents driving *their* kids to school. In other words, if we would just get kick our kids out of our cars and make them walk, they'd be safer.

Kirk Parker said...

"Since 1965, women with children have logged increasingly more time watching television"

Paging rhhardin...

Sorun said...

There's not only the spanking, but chasing the kid down first.

William said...

In 1965 there was no Oprah or Lifetime Movie Channel.

Henry said...

This holds true for longer time frames as well. Since 1950 or 1900 or 1520. It's just one long decline.

Unless I'm guessing wrong and 1964 was some kind of golden age for mom driving.

Take a look:

"Hey, peanut, let's drive to Sears and watch all the televisions!"

"Thanks Mom!"

* * *

From the article: "It’s not clear what the solution is here."

I'm sorry. What makes you think you've identified a problem?

Julie C said...

There have been some reported cases of parents actually being accosted by the police and warned about the dangers of allowing their children to walk somewhere. Ridiculous.

I highly recommend the website FreeRange Kids. The writer is doing a great service, although it's an uphill battle, by promoting independence and self-sufficiency in childhood.

Known Unknown said...

The other AA nails it in respect to the driving.

Michael K said...

My mother never learned to drive so that was out.

Kids played with kids.

I would have fainted dead away if my father ever went to a game I was in.

I crossed busy streets to walk to kindergarten. It was five blocks and, after a nun smacked me with a ruler, I stopped going.

Some friends of my father had a nursery and flower shop next to the school playground. I started going to their shop and helping in the nursery instead of going to kindergarten. They thought nothing of it as they knew me well.

I could hear the bell ring at the school next door and would say goodbye to the folks at the nursery and walk home. The school never called my mother to tell her I wasn't here.

Fortunately for me, we sold our house and moved in November. My mother never knew I played hookey until I told her years later.

And I seemed to survive.

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