The Office for National Statistics in England revealed some interesting facts this month. Nestled among them were two pieces of information that when contrasted to each other seemed particularly interesting.
One was that a typical working parent spends just 19 minutes a day looking after their children. This by itself is a shocking figure. But since the study went on to explain the tremendous financial pressures these families were under, and that a full 50% of the working mothers really wanted to be a "mum who works part-time," I decided to go easy on them; they have a lot of struggles and challenges.
Even though 19 minutes is such a small amount of time, I decided to focus on being compassionate.
Until I saw another very interesting fact later on in the research -- a fact that tempered my compassion and aroused my more judgmental self.
These same women spend 2.4 hours a day watching television, DVD's or videos. That's about seven times the amount of time they spend watching their children. Even allowing for the fact that everyone needs some down time, this figure seems egregious.
If these poor, put-upon mothers whose dream is really to spend more time with their little angels gave up half of their TV time, they would end up spending one hour a day with their children as opposed to 19 minutes. If they gave up half their TV/DVD time (still allowing them 70 minutes a day), well... you do the math.
Although, if asked, I've no doubt these mums would vociferously assert that their children are clearly the most important element in their lives, that comparing time with kids to time spend watching TV is absurd, their behavior suggests another reality.
Most of us know what our priorities should be but what does our day look like?
I'm sure these mothers mean well. They just haven't analyzed how they spend their time or looked at the totality of their actions.
I hope these statistics are a wake-up call while their children are still too young to realize.
As our children get older (it doesn't take that long and they don't have to be that old!), they notice our behavior more. They remark on the disparity between what we say and what we do. And they certainly learn from our example.
If these children are paying close attention (and I've no doubt they are), if these children also "do the math," they will discover a sad fact. If priorities are in any way expressed through time spent, these children are at the bottom of the list.
This is a painful and devastating message. These women have some serious re-evaluating to do.
As we all do. It's time to get down from my high horse and stop judging because we all make their mistake in one respect or another.
Most of us certainly know what our priorities should be. Most of us put our relationship with God, our spouse and our children at the top of our lists (ideally in that order). But how do we act? What does our day look like? What are our real priorities? What are we telling the Almighty, our husband, our kids, about what they mean to us? Let's not become another statistic.