Fitbit for Parents

Fitbit for Parents

I recently joined 2011 and got myself a Fitbit. If you are also behind the times and don’t know what I’m talking about, a Fitbit is a leeeeetle device that keeps track of your daily (and sometimes nightly) activty. You wear it on a wristband or clip it to your pocket, and it tells you to hurry up because you are sort of lazy. There are a few different versions – the fanciest ones track your sleep and your thoughts along with your activity; mine just tells me how many steps I’ve taken, the distance I’ve traveled, and how many calories I have burned.

Since I have two active, slightly insane children, I thought I was going to get a ton of steps without even trying hard. It turns out that isn’t how exercise works, and especially in this case, as Fitbit does not track many of the daily activities I participate in.

For instance – if I wake up in the middle of the night and decide to get some water, the Fitbit will track all the steps I take. If, however, I come across a toy that is activated by motion sensors and says “Hug meeeeeee,” while its eyes glow like the devil’s Christmas lights, causing me to jump three feet in the air, Fitbit doesn’t count it. It might count the jump. But not the half-hour of my rapid heartbeat as I sip my water and try to think of something joyful.

That seems wrong, Fitbit. My heart is pounding…I’m shaking in fear…I kicked the toy as far away from me as possible…that sounds like a workout to me.

Or how about the “Baby Carry Shuffle”? Every day, I try to get my kids moving for at least half an hour. Not because I’m awesome, but because it means they stop asking me for stuff for half an hour. So we find some music and we jam. Except my darling daughter, who was once described as being “built like a linebacker,” can only achieve the best jams while I hold her. So Josh shakes his groove thang while I sloooowly lug Jenna around the living room. But does Fitbit care that I am basically lifting weights while dancing? No. No, it does not. It just makes a mean face at me and tells me I better get more steps in if I don’t want to be the slowest person on the planet.

I also feel like my Fitbit should accommodate for the amount of time I spend putting train tracks together. Sure, my legs aren’t moving because I am sitting on the floor and sobbing, but my fine motor skills have never been more tested. Those stupid tracks are working against me, and I will be darned if I’m defeated (again) by Thomas and his friends. So there I sit, long after Joshua has moved on, determined to make a track that will fit together and survive at least the amount of time it took me to create it. But does Fitbit notice that I am utilizing not only my hands and fingers, but my brain cells? The amount of brain cells it requires for me to make a working track is actually sort of embarrassing, but Fitbit doesn’t even notice. It just sits there. Mocking me. Reminding me that as soon as I get these tracks together, one of my kids will step on them and render my artwork obsolete.

So how ’bout it, Fitbit? Make a parent version of the step counter that really reflects the calories I burn in a day with my kids. Make a version that accounts for my elevated heart rate every time my youngest tries to fling herself out of my arms while we go down the stairs. Make a version that will add up how many times my fingers have worked an on/off switch on a toy locomotive. Make a version that counts catching a piece of discarded ham before it hits the floor. Help me out, Fitbit. Help us all out.

And while you’re updating your product, consider making one that serves Diet Coke and brownies. Just a thought.


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