Feeling bad that you couldn't make your spin class again? Don't! A new study says parenting tasks burn 50,000 calories per month.

By Melissa Willets
November 07, 2019

After having my fourth child, everyone kept asking me how I stay in shape. "Being a mom!" I would joke. But it turns out there's truth behind my comedic routine. A new survey reveals you burn up to 50,000 calories a month parenting. Of course, those of us who run after kids all day, bend over to pick up socks, Legos, dropped Goldfish, and crayons, wrestle little ones into car seats and bathtubs, fix meal after meal, clean up spilled juice, run to school, playdates, and after-school activities, and hoist backpacks, and tote booster seats, all with a baby on their hip will think, "Um, duh." Still, how affirming is to see a breakdown of how physically grueling parenting can be?

The report, conducted by UK-based retailer Wren Kitchens, looked at the daily activities of 1,000 parents with kids between the ages of 3 and 6, and found completing daily parenting tasks scorches almost 1,500 calories (for a person weighing 156 pounds, which is the average in the UK). One of the "exercises" they evaluated with the help of calorielab.com is carrying small children, which burns an equivalent amount of calories as doing -ready for this? - 218 burpees. I'm never hitting the gym again! Because between preparing meals, making beds, moving household items, and dressing kids, we parents seemingly have CrossFit beat.

Weekly activities like doing laundry, food shopping (my personal least favorite to-do item), and loading and unloading the car burns nearly 2,500 calories. You'd have to do thousands of burpees to get that result! Personally, I don't mind doing burpees, but thousands? Not one parent I know would even have the time for that between playing with their kids, and keeping them flush in fresh clothes and their favorite snacks. Meanwhile, I'm loving that vacuuming burns 387 calories per week. With a 16-month-old who puts everything in his mouth, I find I'm vacuuming multiple times per day. So basically, I am making that circuit training class at the gym I always wish I had time to go to after all.

This study is great news for parents, no doubt. Except, why is it that we don't all look like Jennifer Lopez then? I'm guessing it's because between folding sheets, sweeping, taking our kids to swim lessons, karate, ballet, and horseback riding, and making sure they are having the best, most fun childhood ever, we often neglect our own health and well-being. Case in point? I ate the half-crushed mini-muffin my son dropped on our kitchen floor for breakfast. And the last time I didn't scarf down the pizza crusts my kids inexplicably leave on their plates? Um, never.

Ultimately, while I appreciate the much-needed recognition the study provides that parenting is a down-and-dirty, sweaty job that challenges the body and mind much like a Peleton session, it's still up to us to live a healthy lifestyle and make self-care a priority. Because hunting down a missing puzzle piece, while wearing a toddler in a carrier, with a load of laundry that needs folding on our hip, can only do so much to keep us in shape. But I'll be damned if I ever do a burpee again!

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