In the past year, pretty much everyone I know has succumbed to the fitness app craze, myself included. We’re logging steps, checking out heart rates, wearing all sorts of monitors, and tracking calories consumed vs. calories burned. I currently live my life at the mercy of a bracelet that is synced to an app on my phone. The bracelet tracks my activity each day, setting fitness goals and rewarding me with cheerful and encouraging text “badges” when I accomplish certain milestones, such as walking as much as a migrating penguin (I’m not making that up).
I’m embarrassed to admit that I live for these badges. I want my app’s approval, but its love is hard-earned. More often the thing is buzzing at me, pestering me to get moving, to take it for a walk, to do some damn cardio! It drives me crazy, because as a parent, I spend 90 percent of my life completely exhausted. I feel like I should be rewarded for all of the tiring tasks I do each day as a mom. Meticulously removing play-dough from the living room carpet has GOT to burn some calories, right? How about coming off of some active minutes for that dinner I cooked that no one would eat?
Parenting is hard work, as we all know, yet all these apps, bracelets, monitors, and trackers take none of our kid-wrangling into account, so I propose a change. Moms and dads need some encouragement, not just for walking around the block, but for the real hard stuff we have to do every day. We want some credit too! Forget rewarding us for walking the length of India. We need a parenting app that sends us motivational texts, logs our hard-earned milestones, and awards us with badges like these …
- Amazing! You’ve survived 1,500 grueling bedtime routines! That means you’ve read the same story at least 1,200 times and gotten up to get exactly 3,000 cups of water!
- Stupendous! You made an educational craft you saw on Pinterest, cooked a semi-homemade dinner, unloaded the dishwasher, and you even put a load of laundry away. Go have a glass of wine. There’s an article going around the Internet now that says a glass of wine is equal to a gym workout. We’ll take it!
- Time to celebrate! Picking up the baby’s teething toy that he’s thrown across the room 750 times in one afternoon is excellent cardio.
- Gingerbread House Badge! You get a lot of credit for sitting on the floor for a solid hour playing a mind-numbing game of Candyland with two kindergartners and not succumbing to an existential crisis when you got stuck in the cherry pitfall three times, couldn’t seem to win a single round, and drew the candy heart card when you were already past the ice cream floats.
- Fantastic! Between camp, swimming, Mommy and Me, Kindermusik, the grocery store, Target, and a last-minute playdate, you drove 250 miles in two days while listening to Kidz Bop. You are excused from cooking dinner. The calories from fast-food drive-thru officially do not count tonight.
- Heart Health Badge! Dealing with three separate toddler tantrums before noon really raises your heart rate! Good for you!
- Engineering Genius Badge. The car seat is actually installed correctly on the first try. Round of applause!
- Impressive, Parent. All of the kids are bathed and in bed before 9 PM, no one has a stuffy nose, none of them needed a band-aid today, and (huge sigh of relief) they don’t have head lice after all. Go watch that Netflix series your friends have been talking about for the past year. You earned it!
- Weightlifting Badge! You managed to carry in seven grocery bags, a first-grader’s science project, your gigantic purse, a diaper bag, an infant in a carrier, and a 2-year-old who is in the 90th percentile ALL AT THE SAME TIME. Your arms are going to be so jacked.
- Zen Master Badge! Not cussing out that smug crunchy mom at the playground who told you your children’s “behavior problems” could be solved with flower essences and moon chanting was a real milestone, especially when we all know she was just trying to sell you some overpriced MLM essential oils.
No one ever said raising a brood of children would be, well, relaxing. Each day as parents we engage in a serious amount of physical activity (or at least it feels like we do). Parenting is pretty much the opposite of a sedentary lifestyle — I just wish it burned a few more calories. At the end of the day, I know we moms and dads are beat, so when my fitness app is still nagging me to take a run or get in 5,000 more steps, sometimes I feel like giving it a piece of my mind. If only we had an app that could track how much we really do!More On