A Busy Mom’s Guide to Parenting Magazine Covers

parentingearlyyears_june2010.jpgAs a mom of two young children, I consider my magazine time to be precious. I rarely settle down with a favorite publication until well into the evening when the dishes are done, the kids are bathed and bedded down, and the house is (mostly) straightened up.

While I love flipping through the crisp inner pages to see what comes next, I’ve usually already glanced at the cover and have an idea about the articles that will appeal to me. There are lots of things I love about magazines, but my pet peeve is not being able to find a story highlighted on the cover once I’m inside the pages. This is true for magazines of any genre, but especially parenting ones–when you need to find your information fast and read it before nap time ends, or you’re called from the waiting room in the pediatrician’s office, or the carpool line starts to move. You get my point.

I compared a few recent top parenting magazines to see which covers were most effective–and helpful. Here’s what I found:

Parenting Early Years magazine wins the top prize. Every article mentioned on the May 2010 cover also included a page number. When I first glanced at the cover, I found myself having a tough time deciding which story I’d flip to first. Though there was obviously a main cover story (about the science behind the mother-child bond) the editors did a great job of writing snappy blurbs about all of the stories–and the page numbers were an added bonus, without making the design too crowded.

FamilyFun magazine was a close second in ease-of-cover-use. While only one story on the cover included a page number, a mini table of contents was included just inside on Page 7 that listed all the stories on the cover and where to find them.

Probably the least reader-friendly cover was Parents magazine (though the cover photo of the little girl sitting by the pool was adorable). Only one story on the June 2010 cover included a page number, and it was the most random story listed on the cover–a humor piece about a dad shopping for diapers. I read the story and it was really funny–but it wouldn’t have been the one I was most dying to read when I picked up the 212-page magazine. In Parents’ defense, it also had an “On the Cover” section in its table of contents, but for some reason it didn’t stand out as much to me as the one in FamilyFun.

What do you think? Are covers user-friendly enough for a busy parent? Leave a comment and let me know what, if anything, you would do to improve them.

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Shannon McRae

About Shannon McRae

Shannon McRae is a work-at-home mom of three young children whose days are spent wiping mouths, playing Candyland, planning dinners and stealing time in between at the computer for her freelance writing. She's a stickler for healthy eating, with a slight exception for Oreos. She lives in Alabama with her precious children, loving husband and 13-year-old Australian Shepherd named Ricky Martin.