Childrearing

These Parents Use A Spreadsheet To Obsessively Chart Every Damn Thing Their Kid Does

By  | 

shutterstock_40318747__1373820926_142.196.156.251I really don’t even know where to begin with this. I read a story this week about parents who obsessively track every little thing their child does. They’ve been doing it since infancy. To each their own. I don’t have to buy the graph paper and pencils, but I still want to discuss these people for a minute.

Amy Webb wrote an article for Slate this week titled, “I Measure Every Single Thing My Child Does.” It’s subtitled, “And I track it on spreadsheets. Really – every single thing. Even every poop. And it makes me a better parent.” I’m not kidding – I didn’t make that up, it’s really the subtitle.

Her obsession with tracking started in her “advanced maternal age” pregnancy. She would meticulously track her weight, water intake, blood pressure, sugar levels, and also her baby’s ultrasounds, fetal movements, and heartbeat. She claims mapping all her data made her feel less anxious. I’m pretty sure it would have the opposite effect on me.

Immediately after birth, her baby lost a little weight (which all babies do) so her and her husband freaked and started tracking the baby’s formula and breastmilk intake and how many times she peed and pooped on that god-forsaken worksheet all hospitals give out. I admit I totally cheated on mine because it was too much pressure. Apparently, some mothers take comfort in this type of meticulous tracking. Their daughter’s weight was back on track in a week, but they decided to continue the tracking anyway:

But why would we stop now? We’d already noticed a few patterns, and we had allowed the data to dictate our parenting style. Singing her the exact same song during her 6:30 p.m. feeding seemed to encourage longer, more restful sleep. Swaddling guaranteed 90 percent more quiet sleep than nonswaddling. She seemed to eat most around 11 a.m., 4:30 p.m., and 8 p.m., so we kept at the strict feeding schedule.

It occurred to us that while our baby daughter couldn’t communicate directly beyond crying, we could have a deeply intimate, beneficial conversation with her through data. We realized that we could quantify and study her in an attempt to optimize all of her development.

They realized that they could “quantify and study her in an attempt to optimize all of her development.” She really means what she says there. She charts everything you can possibly imagine and I don’t want to ruin the whole article for you so you should just go read it now. I just want to know when the heck they have time to actually engage with their child amongst all of this tracking. Are they constantly distracted – adding data to some crazy book of spreadsheets? What purpose does this have? Are they raising a child who is going to be obsessed with order and outcomes? They should write a book, because I am really curious to see whether they are forming a little super-human or just totally fucking up this parenting thing all together.

(photo: Alan Poulson Photography/ Shutterstock)