This was a surprising statistic to my colleague Kate, who doesn’t have kids. I thought it was surprising too, but because the number sounded too low: Fatherly reports that parents eat 13.5 percent of their meals standing up or on the go, resulting in 156 meals per year consumed vertically.
Now that my kids are a little older, I have only recently started to be able to again enjoy the splendor of remaining seated for an entire meal. More often, I was like the poor put-upon housewife in A Christmas Story, handing out milk and wiping up spills and eating my dinner off of the leftover plates in the kitchen. Now when my kids ask for milk, my weary self is more likely to suggest, “You’re 11. You know where the milk lives.”
In earlier days, when I had the toddler twins on a three-meal, two-snack a day schedule, I also subsisted on whatever was left over: cut-off PB&J crusts, cold oatmeal, unloved pieces of fruit. To my mind, since I was basically eating a scavenger’s diet and chasing chubby-legged babies out of traffic all day, I should have weighed about 80 pounds. (I was conveniently forgetting that I was rewarding myself with frequent late-night snacks of ice cream and chardonnay once they blessedly went to sleep for the night.)
So I fit right into the demographic for this study, was conducted by One Poll for Jenny Craig, in an attempt to examine family eating habits. Fatherly reports that “in addition to eating meals on the go or upright,” the study “found that time-strapped parents often cut corners when it comes to healthy eating. Ninety percent of the 2,000 parents surveyed said they make a less healthy meal choice due to time constraints. Another 25 percent claimed this was regular behavior.” Sounds awfully familiar. So does this finding: “93 percent of parents who admit to late night snacking due to time constraints during the day.” So rest assured, busy parents: If your meals consist of leftover scraps eaten standing up, you’re far from alone. Also—fortunately—this phase will not last forever.