You can’t chart motherhood

Joe’s work has a “health” incentive program. Basically, if you’re active and healthy you get money. One of the program options is to wear a “fitness band” to track your steps and reach a certain number of steps each month. Joe thought this would be the easiest option so he bought us the JAWBONE Up Move Activity Tracker. (If you aren’t familiar with fitness activity trackers you simply wear them all day and they chart your activity level usually via an app on your smart phone.)

Photo May 30, 11 51 02 AM

I thought it’d be pretty simple, I have 4 boys that keep me busy all day. Joe and I are on a “team” so we can see each other’s progress. Well, as it turns out fitness bands can’t really track the full extent of my physical activity as a mother. Almost every day Joe clocks way more steps than I do (like thousands) and he works in an office, sitting at a desk while I’m at home with the boys. The best I can figure is he walks further distances (from his car into the office, to lunch, etc.)

Yesterday, Joe worked from home. He spent most of the day upstairs in his office and he even took a nap in the afternoon (after he took an antihistamine that made him drowsy). I, on the other hand, went shopping at 2 stores, cleaned the house, cooked the meals and took care of all 4 kids. I thought for sure I’d blow him out of the water with my steps. Nope. Only a few hundred more… just barely.

Photo May 30, 11 51 43 AM

I was pissed. I worked hard yesterday… and my fitness tracker didn’t notice. I’ve decided that fitness bands can’t handle the work of motherhood. I may not be walking miles each day but given the state of my physical exhaustion each night I’m pretty sure I’m working pretty darn hard.

My fitness band doesn’t know how to calculate when I’m on the floor wrestling with my boys, doing dishes, cooking, cleaning the house and other activities that don’t really require much walking. It doesn’t notice that I just wrangled an obstinate 2 year old into a pair of pajamas or spent that last 30 minutes helping a fussy baby get out his belly gas. It also can’t calculate that my trip to target isn’t a leisurely stroll around the store… I have a 13lbs baby strapped to my chest while pushing a cart with at least one 25lb+ child in it and 2 other children in tow. It definitely can’t understand the physical force that must be exerted to strap an overtired and strong willed child into his car seat.

And of course nothing can really track the emotional fatigue children cause us. Worrying. Negotiating. Disciplining. Teaching. Loving.

I was so frustrated with yesterday’s results I took off my band and swore I’d never wear it again.

Then I got over my frustrations and realized that a little piece of technology wasn’t going to define me as a mother. I work hard, and I don’t thing an inanimate object will ever be able to understand just how hard a mother (and father) works.

So this morning, I put my band back on simply to appease the health program people and get a little money.


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