Sleep and Activity Monitoring a 6 year old

Mr Rockstar insisted his favorite toy be in this photo with his "watch".
Mr Rockstar insisted his favorite toy be in this photo with his “watch”.

For about a year now I have been considering getting a Fitbit.  Not for fitness tracking (being a mother of 3 small children I hardly ever sit down for more than 5 minutes at a time.  Wearing a cheap pedometer for a few days quickly revealed to me it is a rare day that I DON’T walk 10,000 steps.  If there is a day that I miss my goal of 10,000 steps I do a happy dance…while seated.) but I was intrigued by the sleep monitoring and silent smart alarm.  Ever since having kids I get in this vicious sleep cycle of:

  1. Kids wake me up a bazillion times in the night.
  2. I am so tired the next day, I squeeze in a nap (when I am lucky and the twins nap and Mr Rockstar is content to watch a cartoon).
  3. Thanks to the nap, I have no desire to go to bed at a decent time because I am rested and the house is QUIET!  Anyone else feel the magnetic draw of staying up late when you have the entire house to yourself in peace and quiet?
  4. Whether the kids wake me up or not, because of staying up too late (see #3), I am exhausted and take yet another nap the following day.

Please tell me I am not the only mother that gets on the crazy sleep train?  Breaking this sleep cycle is hard.  Every time I seem to make it a day or two without a nap and think I might be able to start waking up BEFORE the kids (I have heard some moms do this but part of me thinks they are just remembering the one time they did or they are robots) then the kids all decide to wake multiple times one night and the cycle starts over.  Kudos to full time working mothers who don’t have the nap options (though sometimes the idea of a quiet office all day seems almost as appealing as a nap).

I thought a sleep tracker might help me know if I had plenty enough (not sure there is such a thing as ‘plenty’ of sleep for a mother) sleep the night before, and I should power through the afternoon fatigue sans nap, or if I should take it easy because today might be the day I snap due to lack of sleep.

For months I have been stalking the prices of Fitbit Flexs and then Black Friday rolled around and I was able to pick one up for $40.  After a few weeks of wearing it I could look at my sleep and see why I felt like I was about to die somedays and other days I would feel like the energizer bunny.  I’m a data person so it helped me.

What does this have to do with Mr Rockstar’s sleep and activity?

Last week Mr Rockstar woke up at 4:30 AM.  He said he was hungry.  I fed him and sent him back to bed.  At 6:00 AM I realized he had woken up Miss Tomboy.  When I talked to Mr Rockstar about it he said HE HAD NEVER GONE BACK TO SLEEP.  I started to panic and think “Oh no!  Is this the beginning of the spring insomnia?!? NOOOO! I better start collecting all my data again.”  I had let my data collection slide while we were moving since we were in transition.  The data collection isn’t difficult but it does make me feel like I am always “on”.  Also, it is hard to know from talking to Mr Rockstar how much he is awake in the middle of the night.

Suddenly it hit me that what I needed was a sleep and activity tracker for Mr Rockstar… so why didn’t I just give him my Fitbit?  It was a “Duh?” moment.  I can’t believe I didn’t think about using a fitness tracker sooner!

Mr Rockstar was immediately intrigued by it.  The size small Fitbit Flex fits him great.  He enjoys seeing how many “lights” he has earned throughout the day.  He LOVES when he hits 10,000 steps and the Fitbit gives him a little light show.  It tracks his sleep beautifully.  He has only worn it about 3 days total but I have already seen some possible correlations.  Sunday night he only got 9 hours of sleep and then Monday was an AWFUL day.  Meltdowns over EVERYTHING.  My favorite was when he decided at lunch he wanted the blue bowl (which Miss Princess had) instead of the orange bowl and he decided to fling mac n cheese all over the kitchen in protest.  Contrast that to last night when he got 11 hours of sleep and today he has been an angel.

Besides tracking sleep and behavior I can’t wait to see if activity level correlates with behavior and if activity level correlates with sleep.  Yesterday Mr Rockstar walked over 18,000 steps (a good bit of this was running ….after all he is 6) and then he slept 11 hours last night.  Coincidence?

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A Few Tips:

  1. Minor: When setting up the profile for your child, you will have to set it up for the parent and just let the child wear it.  I tried setting it up using his age, weight, height, etc using one of my email addresses and Fitbit now has eternally blocked my second email address as belonging to a minor.  I eventually just set up Mr Rockstar using my Hubby’s email address….so if any of my friends read this and befriend my Hubby on Fitbit just know you are competing against a 6 yo.  I am pretty sure he is going to wipe the floor with us all.
  2. Fitbit Flex vs Charge: After Mr Rockstar seemed to like my Fitbit so much I decided to get myself another one.  Only problem was the Fitbit Flex was back up to $99.  However, I was able to get a FitBit Charge for $80 by price matching Amazon at Target and using a 30% off Cartwheel deal they had last week.  I loved the Charge for the entire 2 hrs I got to wear it before Mr Rockstar decided he liked it better than the flex (which I only had a hot pink strap for at the time).  I decided to trade with him because the Charge has some benefits over the Flex for tracking a child.  The benefits of the Charge are you do not have to enter sleep mode for it to track sleep, it just does it automatically.  Also, since it has a watch display it could be used in conjunction with teaching time.  The benefits to the Flex is it does fit small wrists better than the Charge plus he loves getting the light show when he hits 10,000 steps (the Charge doesn’t send a notification for reaching your goal).  Mr Rockstar had worn the Charge for the past few days but I just got a multi-color pack of bands for the Fitbit flex so now Mr Rockstar wants to trade back.  I have a feeling if I don’t hide one or the other he is going to want to keep switching every day.  Not too big a deal I guess.
  3. Price: I know some of the fitness trackers are pricey.  If you watch sales and are patient you can pick up a Fitbit Flex for $40.  Jawbones routinely go on sale for $30 (like today on Bestbuy.com.  Details here if they aren’t sold out already…).  Also, there is a 20% Cartwheel deal for a FitBug now through 2/14/2015 at Target.  These retail for around $40 (always check Amazon to see if you can price match a better deal!) so you can get one for $32 or less at Target between now and Valentines.  These have good reviews and can be worn like a watch or clipped on clothing.  Considering a trip to the psychiatrist costs $110 and countless weeks of grief as we try to figure out what is going on with Mr Rockstar’s sleep, behavior, etc. $30-$40 seems like a great investment to me.
  4. Motivation: Mr Rockstar enjoys the features on the Fitbit Flex and Charge where it shows him his step count.  This helps motivate him to get active which is great!  Sometimes in the evening he will jog laps around the house to get his step count up before bed.  Since exercise is a big part of helping him stay calm I love having another way to motivate him!

So what do you think?  Am I crazy for putting a fitness tracker on my kid?  I am about ready to call Fitbit and suggest they make a kids line!

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