My husband and I jumped on the FitBit bandwagon.
I resisted when they first came out. While others were walking and counting steps I didn’t want to know how inefficient I was during my day. I’m a busy mom. Why would I want to know that I wasted 45 steps looking for my keys? Or how many times a day I wasted steps to let the dog in or out when I should have had my butt in a chair meeting deadlines? But when I learned that the device would encourage you to get up and move if you hadn’t walked at least 250 steps in an hour, I was intrigued. Soon I was asking, “Did I waste 45 steps or did I help myself burn unwanted fat?”
Beyond the FitBit’s ability to track steps, stairs, and heart rate — and what eventually sold me — was the sleep-tracking function. Others can count all the steps they want. Me? I’m counting Zzzzs.
Like most moms, I’m obsessed with sleep. Sleep I’m getting. Sleep I’m not getting, and most of all — sleep that is stolen from me.
Most nights my sleep schedule reads like a fourth-grade math problem. If the teenager works until 10 p.m. and the toddler wakes at 5:30 a.m., how much sleep will mom get if she pees twice and dad snores all night?
I’m negotiating hours with a schedule I can’t control. I lie awake at night stewing while my toddler kicks me in the ribs and my husband snores in my good ear. I bet Google could prove my hunch that most articles on the causes of snoring are read by sleep-deprived spouses at 2 a.m.
The first morning after we got our FitBits, I sat next to my husband at the kitchen table to compare stats.
“I got six hours and two minutes of sleep last night, and I woke up 27 times,” I reported. “How much sleep did you get?”
It was an accusation, not a question. And I didn’t even listen to his answer. I wanted him to hear MY data and I wanted him to see how much I was struggling to get adequate sleep. He listened. He sighed. He’s not snoring on purpose. And the kids having conflicting schedules isn’t something that is being done to me. I’m not a victim. I’m a mom.
Over the next week I noticed the sleep numbers slowly increased while my times wakened decreased. With the FitBit, it seemed my night-time stewing sessions had begun to lessen. Could it be that I was able to hand over my worry, frustration and sleep number obsession to this little wrist gadget?
I felt validated. I had data. Who needs to toss-and-turn, jab elbows into ribs, and breathe deep frustrated sighs into the night when I can look over data with my morning coffee? Ah, the comforts of science.
There is no denying that instead of throwing a bit of a fit each night, my FitBit does it for me. Nothing keeps me awake like a swelling rage over missed sleep and a full schedule the following day. Now, instead of directionless rage I have numbers to work from in productive conversations to help my husband and me implement healthful change. Yes, a sleep study for my husband may be needed.
Other things will take care of themselves. My teen will have her license soon. The toddler will no doubt stop wanting to climb in bed with Mom and Dad and I’ll miss it all. Until then I’ll keep missing sleep and counting Zzzzs with my handy dandy new wrist gadget.
— Bonnie Jean Feldkamp
Bonnie Jean Feldkamp is a writer, wife and mom of three kids whose ages span two decades. Her work has appeared in The New York Times; Brain, Child Magazine; Scary Mommy and more. Her Cincinnati Family Magazine mom blog earned Best Overall Blog in the 2017 Ohio Society of Professional Journalists Awards. Bonnie is also the communications director of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. Find her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @writerBonnie or on her website at WriterBonnie.com.