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Want to be a better mother? Get a FitBit!

Fitness trackers adorn the wrists of adults going about their daily business all over the place.  They jiggle up and down as grown ups power through the day.  There is a dazzling array of options when it comes to the style, design and various functions offered.  I think in the day of increasing obesity rates and health problems, anything that encourages us to move more is to be praised.

It’s easy to scoff at them and ask what purpose they serve, aren’t we all adults who should be able to take personal responsibility for being active already?  I used to think like that, that if you needed an electronic device to make you realise you can’t spend all day sitting, then there were bigger issues.

But now I feel sorry for the people who think like that, they will never know the dizzying heights of feeling your wrist buzz as the Fitbit announces you are AMAZING and have reached your daily target!  It’s quite a special moment, fireworks shoot across the display and the smugness spreads with the vibrations of the device.  You have taken on a daily target and won, you rock.

I didn’t realise just how target driven I am until I got my own tracker.  I was confident that I was hitting that 10,000 steps a day target easily.  It seems that for the most part I was, but on those wet days where it isn’t so easy to be out and about, it seemed there was room for improvement.

Maybe I’ve become a bit of a slave to the tracker and the reward of seeing my progress being monitored.  But in doing so, I have found that it means I am more enthusiastic to hop up and go, especially with the kids.   On top of the daily steps goal, there are also other targets you can set for stairs climbed, active minutes etc. and if you manage to tick all those boxes there are extra stars flashing for those of us who enjoy that sort of thing….

So in trying to hit those magic numbers, I have found that with the kids I am more amenable to certain suggestions and requests that I think is making me a better mother.

  1. If we can walk rather than drive, we walk.  We were already fairly good at walking to school, local shop, playground but now I’m extra conscious to grab the buggy rather than the car keys.
  2. Chase the kids around on the green?  Bring it on!
  3. If someone wants to go the long way to look at buses, it’s all good!  Buses and steps!
  4. If somebody has left their shoes upstairs, no problem!  A quick sprint up the stairs adds both steps and stairs climbed!  And when you hand over the shoes, the other one says their teddy is on their bed – no eye rolling or moaning.  Back up the stairs with me!
  5. Dancing with the kids adds active minutes and steps 🙂  Shake your money maker!
  6. I make a bigger effort to get out myself for a longer walk regularly, which is not only good from an exercise point of view but also a good opportunity for some head space.
  7. I go to bed earlier now I am more aware of my sleep patterns courtesy of the sleep tracking function.  What parent isn’t going to benefit from more sleep?
  8. There aren’t any medals in the parenting arena, so I will take what little round of applause I can get.  If that’s from the fitness tracker, so be it.
  9. All the above add up to a more active lifestyle, and that’s only going to make me feel better.

My seven year old is fascinated by the Fitbit, so much so that I got her a simple kids version online.  While she was showing her friends, someone accidentally reset her daily steps taken….. So what did she do?  Ran laps around the green to get them back!

With Christmas looming I’m sure there will be many mamas opening gifts of fitness trackers; I’ll keep an eye out for you ploughing around the park on St. Stephen’s Day while clocking your step count 🙂

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Elf on the Shelf – Lazy magical tips

Festive spirit is starting to weave its magic and infect everyone and everything in its path.  Shock at the fact that is is nearly December shows on faces as they mentally calculate how many shopping days left.  Black Friday saw hordes of unnecessary, panic purchases made that at least didn’t weigh as heavily on bank balances as another day.

December is making her way around the corner, I can hear her plodding along cheerily, humming away. And she sounds to me like an elf.  I think perhaps December 1st is almost as revered in my house as the 25th. The elf makes her grand annual entrance that morning and will proceed to enthral the children and haunt the adults until Santa himself spirits her away with him.

The elf of the shelf seems like such a magical tradition to welcome.  Santa lets loose an army of scout elves to take up residence in homes all over the world and report back to North Pole HQ on the high-jinx of the children they spy on.  It serves as a cautionary measure to encourage good behaviour but more so as a fun game of “find the elf” each morning.

So as I enter my third year of welcoming the little sprite into our home, I have a few helpful suggestions to other elf-hosts.

  1. If you don’t already have an elf, don’t get one.  Simple as that.  You can thank me later.
  2. If you do already have one, my biggest piece of advice is to make sure the little bugger is stashed safely somewhere you will clearly remember when November 30th rolls around.  Otherwise there will be a panicked phase where you realise you have no idea where to find it, with D-Day quickly approaching.  Putting it with the Christmas decorations in the attic is a sound choice; making sure it is at the very top of the storage box is even better.
  3. Have a lazy elf.  Nobody wants an over-achiever showing off.  If the kids become used to elaborate set ups every morning, you will only have to keep working harder.  Stick him on a different shelf each day.  Does exactly what it says on the tin.
  4. Set a reminder in your phone to make sure you move the pest each night before you go to bed.  Having to drag yourself from a warm bed when you’re half asleep to move a stuffed toy is far from fun.
  5. In my house the elf is under strict instructions to remain downstairs.  This has a two fold benefit – it means I don’t run the risk of the kids waking as I try to perch the damn thing in their bedrooms, and also that they have no expectation of it being found in their room.
  6. While I do regret every starting the elf on the shelf tradition, it’s not all hassle.  I find it’s hard enough to get the kids out of bed on a December morning ordinarily, but the “where will the elf be today?” question has them jumping out without the usual drama.
  7. There are loads of inventive Pinterest type articles which will give ideas of what to do with your elf.  Every year I marvel at them and the time and talent some parents have to put into this.  Don’t dwell too long on these posts, find yourself a “Simple elf on the shelf ideas” post and bookmark it.  If you find one of those calendars which tells you where to move him/her each night to take away any head-scratching, bingo!