Tuesday 16 July 2019

Fiona Ness: 'I haven't known of any new mums able to spend a penny in the day, let alone give 60 minutes to a spinning class'

A Sport England study has reported that, outside of work, mothers are prioritising cooking, family and housework over sculpting their own physiques. Stock photo
Fiona Ness

Fiona Ness

The concept of maternal guilt, once an expression of a moral code, has now been elevated to a science, with the news this week that the majority of mums don't exercise because they feel guilty about spending time away from their kids.

A Sport England study has reported that, outside of work, mothers are prioritising cooking, family and housework over sculpting their own physiques. The findings derail the common narrative that motherhood facilitates women hell-bent on 'letting themselves go', after procreation piles on the baby weight then turns them invisible in society anyway.

In fact, mothers said they were not foregoing exercising out of laziness or lack of sense of self, but because they were time-poor and child-focused, with more than 60pc of the 1,000 women surveyed saying that spending time on themselves while exercising made them anxious they were not fulfilling their motherly duties.

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These mothers of children aged up to six said they had less than 60 minutes a day to themselves, which seems to me to be a generous estimate. I haven't known of any new mums able to spend a penny in the day, let alone give 60 minutes to a spinning class, or whatever the latest fitness trend is (as a working mum of three, it's been 10 years since I last feigned interest).

And the science bit? Scientific research shows that children with an inactive mother are less likely to be active themselves and this, we know, is a bad thing for child health. From this fact, the good people at Sport England have extrapolated that it is crucially important for children to experience their mothers exercising, in order to ingrain it as part of everyday life.

Yet it's hard to see the net gain, when you're up to your elbows in dinner dishes and pre-teen angst, of denying your clamouring kids an hour of face-to-face time so you can be an active role-model but absent in their lives.

But exercise we must. And if, like me, you feel that you just can't find the time to spend time inspiring your family with your exercise, take a nudge from the ultimate feminist icon, Miss Piggy, and MAKE TIME.

Meghan's still in vogue

BARELY was I finished back-slapping Meghan Markle for her realistic portrayal of new motherhood when she was pictured all mummy-tummied and bleary-eyed in Archie's first official photographs, when the news broke that the new mum was guest-editing 'Vogue'. And not just any old 'Vogue', but September 'Vogue'. The woman looked like she couldn't yet sit comfortably on an inflatable ring, never mind corral gal pals Oprah and Amal into penning right-on feminist inspo-think pieces for her super-duper, cutting-edge, fashiontastic magazine takeover. I cursed her duplicity, crossed my fingers and prayed there would be an at-home cover shoot.

Although the duchess would have had her 'Vogue' work finished well in advance of the birth, the message is clear: while the rest of us slog away on a 40-year career path punctuated with maternity leaves that create setbacks and struggles, beautiful, rich women can alight on one of the world's most coveted magazine jobs on a whim, and appear to triumph with their unattainable brilliance. And no doubt have time to exercise too.

Cleaning up on excuses

MY search for the perfect cleaner continued apace this week when a friend suggested he bring round a lady he knows who is a great cleaner. He said she would have a look at the house, which is small, extended and mid-terrace, before agreeing to the job. Would she stoop to conquer our cleaning? "Too many kids, too many stairs and too many bathrooms," was her fairly exercised response.

Irish Independent

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