Technology has a bad rap. Everywhere you turn you’re being told to put down your phone and unplug. Look at your children. Play with your children. Notice the world around you. There’s no doubt about it: technology has taken over and it’s important to think about how we’re spending our time. Mindlessly scrolling through Facebook and Instagram all hours of the day is not exactly productive and does little to foster a connection with our loved ones.
But that doesn’t mean technology has nothing to offer us. Quite a lot of good can come from these resources if we treat them as just that, resources. Now, more than ever, our phones can provide us with some incredible opportunities to simplify our lives and actually spend more time with our children, not less. The following are some amazing apps available for smartphones that parents will really love and appreciate.
Becoming a parent for the first time can be stressful. You’re overwhelmed, sleep-deprived, and in a constant state of worry thinking about the million ways in which you’re ruining your child already. Add to that the daily grind of keeping track of feedings and soiled diapers and it’s enough to bring you to tears. Enter Baby Connect, an app that helps you track all of these important details, including sleep and any medicine you administered. No more trying to rack your brain at your well-baby visit–just pull out your phone and all of the information is in one handy place. Another great feature is that several people can access the app which makes it easy to share information with family and other caregivers.
Cloud Baby Monitor
Why spend hundreds of dollars on a video baby monitor when you can turn your old Apple device into a high-quality monitor in minutes? The Cloud Baby Monitor allows you to use an iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, or Mac computer as a camera that you can link to another device. It’s really easy to do, and allows you to monitor your baby, speak to them through the device, and play lullabies or white noise to soothe them. The only downside (for some) is that it is only available for Apple products, but you can find similar apps that work with Androids.
The Wonder Weeks app was developed as a companion to the book of the same name–a guide to the predictable, age-related developmental leaps that all babies experience. This book is a great resource for parents that allows them to see difficult behaviour for what it is–a product of some amazing changes that children experience as they grow. That said, the book is extremely repetitive and, thus, a bit of a difficult read. The Wonder Weeks app, on the other hand, condenses all of that super useful information into an easy-to-read format that is sent to you just when you need it. When you first set it up, you will enter your child’s age and, from then on, you will be notified at the earliest time you may see behavioural changes in your child. It is so comforting to know that there’s a reason for your child’s fussy behaviour, and this information encourages you to think of ways to support your child rather than resorting to feelings of sadness and frustration during difficult times.
The BabySparks app is a great resource for parents who are eager to support their baby’s growth and development, but are unsure how to do so. After entering in your child’s age, you can access a ton of ideas for games and activities to play with your child that will support gross motor skills, cognitive development, speech development and so much more. You can keep track of activities that you’ve already completed or mark the ones your child really loved as favourites so you can remember to come back to them.
Who takes more pictures than a doting parent? No one. But, if you’re like most of us, those photos often get buried with thousands of others in your phone until you maybe remember to transfer them onto your desktop computer. Then, they get buried in with millions of others you collect over the months and years. Mosaic is a handy app that allows you to create photo books right on your phone so those gorgeous moments you’ve captured don’t go untouched until your phone unexpectedly falls into a bucket of mop water (yes, that happened to me). Plus, you can work on photo books whenever you have a free moment since you can do it wherever you are.
Cost: Free (although you will have to pay for any photo books you decide to have printed)
This app is particularly dear to my heart. I love making art with my children and even created an art studio for my kids. So you can imagine the stacks of artwork I have lying around the house at any given time. But I’m also a self-proclaimed minimalist. I mean, I want my kids to explore their creativity, but I don’t want their artwork taking over my life! Keepy solves all of our problems. We can take photos of the artwork (and anything else we’d like to keep as mementos), record descriptions of them, share with family members, and organize everything by age through the years. The actual art can be recycled or repurposed, eliminating clutter (and headaches). Amazing!
Parenting is hard. Kids know just how to push your buttons and it takes a lot of strength and patience to get through the day sometimes. One important way to ensure that you’re up for the task is to make sure you’re taking care of yourself. The Buddhify app guides you through various meditations depending on your needs; as you become more experienced with meditation, you can use the timers without the guidance. My favourite part about the app is that it also has guided meditations for children, encouraging mental wellness and emotional regulation right from the start.
Winnie is a really helpful app that allows you to search for activities for kids, family-friendly restaurants, parks, changing tables and so much more. You can also connect with other parents to share experiences and ask for advice whenever you need it, and search for daycares and preschools near you. How amazing is that?
Life with kids can be chaotic. Between well-baby appointments and play dates, it’s easy to forget things–especially when you’re low on sleep and busy staring at chubby cheeks. As your baby grows and you add more children to the ranks, the list of appointments, extracurricular activities and other obligations you have to keep track of seems to explode. Don’t be a hero, get help. And by help, I mean Cozi, the app that helps you organize all these important dates.
Today’s Parent Mealtime
One of the best things my partner and I did was start meal planning. People are intimidated by the thought of having to plan a week’s worth of meals ahead of time, but with a little practice, it’s not actually that difficult at all. It makes it so easy to prepare meals through the week when you’re drained and don’t want to think any more than you have to, saves you a lot of money on groceries, and produces a lot less food waste at the end of the week. The Today’s Parent Mealtime app can help you get started. You can access their library of recipes if you feel like trying something new, but you can also store your personal recipes for safekeeping and quick reference. Create and store your meal plan for the week, create a grocery list, and then share it with your partner and make them do the shopping.
Why make life harder than it has to be? Try one of these smartphone apps today and start simplifying your life now. What apps are you loving right now?
Illustration by PLN’s Satesh Mistry. He’s awesome.
Photographs by the author.
*Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Parent Life Network or their partners.