There was one comment we heard quite a few times when we had our first child: “We never needed <insert tech here> when we had kids! We used <insert manual, character building process here> and we were just fine!“.
Here’s the deal. Technology has advanced so far and so quickly, you’d be a moron not to embrace the technologies that would make your life easier and relieve some of the stresses caused by children. Why torture yourself? Just to say that you toughed it out? Please.
Over the past few years I’ve found myself using the following technologies to help with the kids and to get me a few minutes of peace. I swear I’m not lazy though!
While my beloved Chromecasts form the basis of my digital entertainment experience, there’s no denying they’ve helped with the kids. Who needs DVDs anymore when I can stream Youtube, Netflix or my local media straight to the TV via an app on my phone?
If you don’t have one, go get one NOW and thank me later. It makes old TVs usable again and will make physical media a thing of the past. The kids will love you for it too!
Netflix / Youtube
While we’re on the topic. How good is Netflix and Youtube? If you need a quick distraction, crack one of these babies out and play pretty much any kids show imaginable.
Kids missed an episode of Peppa Pig? Who cares! There are a billion episodes on Youtube for them to catch up on. Looking for a new show for the kids to watch because you’re sick of hearing the Fireman Sam theme song? Blammo! Check out the kids section of Netflix and rest easy knowing you won’t have to watch the fire loving citizens of Ponty Pandy try to burn down their houses ever again.
Xbox / Playstation
Hear me out. There’s no way in hell they’re touching my consoles, noooo way! They are allowed to watch though! On the rare occasion the baby isn’t trying to mash the buttons on the front of the console, I can sit back on the couch, play my games and entertain the kids at the same time. Win-win in my opinion!
I wouldn’t recommend cracking out Grand Theft Auto or the new Doom game (can’t wait! Link not safe for kids!), unless of course you want to deal with explaining why the kids inexplicably know every swear word or why they’re no longer sleeping at night. Stick to the racing games, those are an easy win in our house.
Baby Connect App
One of the first things we learned as new parents was that we needed to track everything. Seriously. Nappy changes; the contents and description of the nappies; feeds; sleep; medicines… you name it! Okay, while we didn’t need to, it was strongly recommended for us newbie parents so that we’d be able to track rhythms and know when something was wrong.
Back in the good ol’ days (as we were constantly reminded), they used something called “pen and paper”. Screw that. There’s an app now!
Enter Baby Connect. This was our one stop shop for everything we needed to track. It has such incredible granularity I was recording crap just for the sake of it! You can then plot everything out on graphs to look for trends and help identify when something’s up. It’s powerful stuff!
Even better, each parent or carer has access to the account so the app syncs across devices. This was the best as we could know how the other was doing at home with the baby while one of us was out. We could then come home and jump in with up to date information without needing to get a debrief. Such a time saver!
Sparkup: The Magical Book Reader
One of the constant battles I face is convincing our eldest to let me leave the room at bedtime after reading him a story. He always wants “one more daddy, just one more pleaaaaase!”. While the heart says yes, the mind says there are dishes to be cleaned, clothes to be folded, bills to be paid and Game of Thrones to be watched!
Thankfully my genius wife found Sparkup: The Magical Book Reader! How amazing is this: the book reads to your child for you! I know what you’re thinking but it’s not as bad as it sounds! You have to set the thing up and let it record you reading the book first. The technology is really quite amazing.
First, you insert the book into the slot (seriously, check out the link above to see) and the device takes a photo of the front cover so it can identify the book later. You then press the button, turn the page, it takes a photo of Page 1 and prompts you to read the page while it records you. Once done, press the button again, turn the page, it takes a photo of the next page, records you and so on until the book is complete. All of this data is saved to memory on the device.
Now when your child inserts the book into the slot and turns the Book Reader on, it takes a snap of the front cover and tries to match it against the front cover photos it has in its memory. If it finds a match, it pulls that book out from memory and starts playing it! You’ll hear your voice read the title of the book! When you turn the first page, it takes another snap and matches that against the saved “Page 1”. If it matches, it plays the recording and so on until the book is complete.
It even allows you to skip pages! As long as the camera can match the page to a photo stored in memory, you’re sweet. That was my biggest worry as our son loves to skip ahead and be all over the place but clearly they’ve thought of everything.
The only issue I have is that you need to have some sort of light source in order for the camera to accurately identify the pages. Fair enough though as it obviously doesn’t have a flash. Totally a winner in my books! (Pun intended).
What other bits of technology do you use to help manage the kids? Anything cool that could help me in my quest for an extra minute of Julian time? Let me know!