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6 Great Apps for the Modern Parent

6 Great Apps for the Modern Parent

Most of us read George Orwell’s 1984 in high school – a time when technology had reached the height that the government had access to its citizens’ every movement and conversation – at home, at work, and on the street. As adults, of course, we find that reprehensible and have genuine fears today about surveillance and over-reach. Not so with our kids, however. It is a dangerous world, emergencies happen, and our ability to protect ourselves and our kids is important. So is ease of finding great stuff to do as a family and providing educational experiences for our kids. Technology brings that to us through some great apps for the modern parent. Here are eight that provide both security and fun.

1. Baby Monitor 3G

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    This is the first HD quality baby monitor from any device on video. It is receiving rave reviews around the world and was named one of the 5 top lifestyle apps in over 100 countries, and currently has over 1/2 million parent users. Here are its most important features:

    • Works with all devices – easy set up
    • Provides live HD video anywhere
    • Baby activity log entries
    • Great reach over WiFi, LTE and 3G
    • Clear sound and picture
    • Adjustable night light
    • Parents can talk to their babies in real time with their own voice
    • Available in 13 different languages for true global reach

    2. Red Rover

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      This app is relatively new, but is a great resource for parents who are traveling with kids or just looking for local attractions and events that are family-oriented. Each event or attraction is accompanied by a photo. Tap on the photo and you will get detailed information about hours, event details, pricing, etc. Users can also buy tickets and locate close-by restaurants, shopping etc. Events and attractions are updated on a daily basis – a huge plus.

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      Users can sign up for the app at Red Rover and then download the app to their iPhones. (Note: also available for Android)

      Currently, the cities are limited to New York, Boston, Atlanta, Hamptons/North Fork, and San Francisco; however, many more are coming soon – Washington, D.C., Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle, Austin, Dallas, Houston, Philadelphia, and others.

      Best advice? Download the free app and keep it updated as you plan your family trips. This will be a great resource.

      3. Mom Maps

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        Whether you are in your own home town or traveling with your kids, this app will tap you into anything and everything available for your kids by categories. Imagine traveling by car long distances and finding a need to get your kids out of the car for some “runaround” time. Now you can locate parks, indoor playgrounds. Or suppose you are on vacation and it rains all day – finding an indoor play place or activity is the perfect solution.

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        The premium version lets you get reviews and recommendations from other moms and give your own feedback after a visit to a spot. Other features include:

        • Ability to bookmark and save favorites
        • Users can view and upload video
        • GPS with directions
        • Ability to share with friends on social media
        • 28,000 locations in 28 different metro areas with more being added regularly, both in the U.S. and major cities abroad

        It’s free and available for iOS and Android – premium version will give you reviews and feedback.

        4. SurfBalance

        SurfBalance

          Here’s the perfect parental control for helping kids develop smarter web use. This tool will let a parent limit, guide, and verify where their kids go online, through iOS or Android. Here is all that a parent can do:

          • The app provides over 1,000 safe links for kids. Parents can modify as they wish.
          • Surf Balance then tracks kids’ usage and provide reports so they can see how long they have spent on each site and in total during a time period or a day. Parents can set time limits, so kids learn how to “budget” their online time.
          • Parents can block certain sites, and kids will have to ask permission for access. This gives parents time to review those sites and approve of them before giving permission
          • Parents can also request daily or weekly email reports regarding their kids’ usage.
          • Reasonable price – $4.99

          There are certainly many other good apps for web controls, but this one has the added feature of time budgeting – a good skill for kids to learn.

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          5. White Noise Baby

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            Adults use “white noise” machines all of the time to enhance their sleep. Why not for baby too? For both IOS and Android ($0.99), the White Noise Baby app will provide your baby’s favorite white noise for both soothing sounds when s/he is cranky or for when it’s time to sleep.

            Features include the following:

            • Looped sounds – car ride, music, hair dryer, fan, conch shell, train, heartbeat, Doppler ultrasound of the womb and much more.
            • Parents can choose a single sound or a combination to be played sequentially
            • A shut-off timer that gradually fades the sound
            • Timer that can be re-activated if it detects crying, to repeat the soothing sounds again
            • Report log so parents can determine which sounds are the most effective

            6. Smart Ice4 Family

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              This may be one of the most important apps a family can have, especially if there are family members with medical conditions that should be relayed to EMS and hospital personnel when the patient is unable to speak for themselves.

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              Data such as name, age, medical conditions/alerts, insurance, emergency contact information, medical history and more. All messages can be recorded in advance by the user, and they can be accessed by a simple tap.

              Information can be stored for up to 8 family members. Important features include:

              • EMS alert buttons that automatically dial EMS that include location
              • Automated message plays once phone is opened giving EMS personnel instructions on the use of the app
              • A built-in HIPAA statement with email capability – no filling out long forms at the hospital.
              • Insurance information
              • Listing of all medical conditions and current medications
              • Preferred hospital statement
              • More

              Lots of peace-of-mind for $3.99!

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              Published on September 21, 2020

              The Danger of Overscheduling Your Kids

              The Danger of Overscheduling Your Kids

              I am a parent of three children aged 8, 6, and 6. Like many parents, I struggle with knowing the right balance of activities for them. I don’t want my kids to miss out on opportunities to play sports and participate in activities that will enhance their lives and help them grow as individuals. However, I also don’t want them to become overscheduled kids, to the extent that they get worn out and stressed out.

              There is a balance in providing activities for our children and overscheduling them. The tendency for the latter is prevalent these days. Our lives — and the lives of our kids — are increasingly overscheduled and overworked. Thus, we need to understand the dangers of having overscheduled kids and how to prevent this from happening in our own families.

              What’s Wrong with Overscheduling Your Kids?

              1. Overscheduling Can Burn Out Our Kids

              When our kids are on the go and scheduled to the max from a young age, their potential to get burned out before reaching high school is quite high. The New York Times reported some research on burnout and found that burnout with kids relates to their workload, along with their parents’ propensity to experience it.[1] This means that overworked children are more likely to get burned out than others. Similarly, overscheduled parents tend to have overscheduled kids more often than not.

              Burnout

              When a person is burned out, they feel overwhelmed and exhausted by what others expect them to get done daily. Children who are involved in too many activities with little to no downtime have a high chance of experiencing burnout. When parents place too many expectations on their kids, they also have an increased potential to burn out.

              If you get the sense that your child is feeling overworked or overwhelmed by their daily activities, you need to know which ones can be cut back. If they have too many activities outside of school work, for instance, then that is one area that likely needs to be downsized.

              An overworked child will present various symptoms like moodiness, irritability, crankiness, despondency, anger, stomach aches, headaches, rebellion, etc. Cutting back their activities will help to relieve their stress and reduce the said burnout signs. If your kid has severe burnout symptoms, though, then professional help from a pediatrician or therapist for children should be sought.

              Downtime

              Downtime is key to helping relieve burnout. If children don’t have free time during the day to have any rest, they are more likely to become burned out than others. Downtime means unorganized free time to do what they enjoy or relax. Cut back your kids’ extra-curricular activities if they don’t have downtime in their schedule.

              Here are more tips on creating downtime for the children: How to Create Downtime for Kids.

              2. Overscheduling Kills Playtime and Creativity

              Kids need time to be kids. When their schedules are filled every day with activities like organized ballet, soccer, and music lessons, and they only take a break for dinner and bedtime, then they are overscheduled. They need to have free time after school to relax and play. When they don’t have that and proceed from one scheduled activity to the next, they are missing out on playtime.

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              Playtime is crucial to child development. If they cannot get enough time to play, then their ability to develop their creativity decreases. The Genius of Play explains that there are six major developmental benefits that children get from playtime:[2]

              • Creativity
              • Social skill development
              • Cognitive development
              • Physical development (i.e., balance, coordination)
              • Communication skills
              • Emotional development

              If children don’t have time to play because they are always on-the-go, then they are missing out on the developmental benefits of play.

              Children need downtime after school so that they can unwind, play, and decompress. Research from the Journal of Early Childhood Development and Care showed that kids need to play to deal with anxiety, stress, and worry.[3] Playtime provides an outlet for them to manage these emotions in a healthy manner and helps with the development of their creativity.

              Children need free time to play every day. Fifteen minutes at recess is not enough. They need time for it after school, at home, outside of the constraints of scheduled activities.

              Solution

              Ensure that your child has time to play after school. This is especially important for young children who greatly benefit from playing. Limit organized activities so that your child is not scheduled every day and can play after school. If they have an activity every hour, then it doesn’t allow for playtime.

              3. Overscheduling Causes Stress and Pressure

              When kids are overscheduled because their parents are so intent on having high-performing children, then they will feel stressed. Parental pressure upon a child to do well in academics, music, multiple sports, and religious studies is a reality for many kids. The children scheduled in all of these activities can often feel stress and pressure, especially when they are expected to succeed in all of them.

              It is hard enough for kids to be good or succeed at a single activity. For a parent to overschedule their child and expect superior performance in various activities, that is a recipe for a stressed-out child.

              Solution

              Parents should not schedule kids in multiple activities with the expectation of superior performance in all. They should also consider the child’s interests. If the child is not interested in one activity, then they are likely to feel stressed and pressured to do it.

              For example, if Suzy has been taking piano lessons for four years, and she no longer enjoys learning the instrument, then perhaps it is time to take a break. If Suzy is forced to continue with the lessons and daily practices, then she may feel pressured to continue performing simply because her mom wants her to do so. This can lead Suzy to resent her mother for forcing her to keep on doing something that she doesn’t like anymore.

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              Let your child help in selecting the activities that they get involved in. Also, put a cap on the number of activities they are doing. If they have a different activity every weekday, then they are likely overscheduled.

              Kids need downtime and time to play, too. If they need to do a new activity every day, that downtime is diminished, considering the time at home or outside of the scheduled activities is limited. This limited time is then filled with homework, mealtime, and bedtime prep. Eliminating activities several days a week will allow the child to have some time to play freely. The younger the kid is, the more time they need playtime. As they get older, they can take on more activities; however, under the age of 13, playing daily is a must for children.

              4. Healthy Eating Falls by the Wayside

              Any parent who’s busy chauffeuring multiple kids to different activities after school knows how tempting fast food can become. Fast food, however, leads to less healthy food choices. French fries and hamburgers — the staple combo in most fast-food joints — cannot help your child thrive nutritionally.

              When families are overscheduled, they tend to go for easy and quick meals. When rushed, many of us make poor food choices because we aren’t taking the time to think about a meal’s nutritional value and a balanced diet for our children.

              5. Family Mealtimes Become a Thing of the Past

              When we are taking our kids to sports and other extra-curricular activities that fall during dinnertime, the family often misses out on sharing a meal at home.

              This is true in our own home. There are certain nights of the week that we have practices, and so we either eat together early (if possible) or eat separately, depending on what our schedules allow.

              There is so much value in having family dinners. It provides an opportunity for family members to discuss their day, including their work and school activities. It is a time when technology is set aside so that everyone can truly focus on communicating with one another and catching up on what is happening in each other’s lives. When a kid’s activities are scheduled every evening, then that family time at the dining table gets lost. Dinnertime becomes a thing of the past as we overschedule kids and ourselves.

              Try learning more about family time here: How to Maximize Family Time? 13 Simple Ways You Can Try Immediately.

              Solution

              Assess our schedule during the week to ensure that there’s always time for dinner with the family. Make it a point to establish a dinnertime schedule for the evenings that you do not have prior engagements scheduled. Remember: the time that you have with your kids under your roof is fleeting. Before long, they will be grownups and start living on their own. You need not dismiss or minimize the opportunity to bond with your children over meals.

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              Having family mealtimes also allows you to make excellent food choices. This way, parents can create balanced and healthy meals and teach their children about the importance of eating good food for their bodies.

              How to Turn Things Around?

              1. Fix the Displaced Ambitions

              Parents with overscheduled kids often mean well. They want their children to succeed, so they give them every chance to make it happen. They sign them up for various lessons, sports, and activities that may help the kids find success in life.

              In other cases, the parent probably didn’t get such opportunities when they were young and felt that they missed out on many things. Hence, they provide those missed opportunities to their kids during their own childhood.

              Carla is an example of such a parent. Carla always wanted to take dance and ballet classes as a child. She heard her friends talk about dance classes and performances, and they would even bring recital photos to school, showing their beautiful, detailed costumes. Carla wanted to be in those dance classes and learn ballet and have the opportunity to perform in a beautiful costume in front of an audience. Unfortunately, her family could not afford to give her that opportunity.

              When Carla gave birth to a baby girl, she had visions of her little one growing big enough to take dance, ballet, and even tap classes someday. She was looking forward to dressing her daughter in dance costumes and watching her take lessons and eventually performing in recitals. When Carla’s daughter Anna was old enough to enroll at a dance class at four years old, she was thrilled. However, after a few months, it became clear that Anna was not enjoying these classes. She would cry before every lesson, begging Carla to let her stay home and not go to class. Her daughter had no interest in learning to dance.

              In truth, it happens to many parents. They would enroll their kid in an activity that they wanted to do as a child but never got to try. Unfortunately, a parent’s interest is not always the same as that of their kids’. The child may humor mom or dad for some time and do the activity out of compliance. But if the child does not enjoy it anymore, they will eventually make things clear to their parents.

              Parents should listen to their children. If the activity is something that they do not enjoy doing, ask the children what they think they would like to do, and then eliminate activities that they are not into. Similarly, teach them commitment by finishing a program, but don’t enroll them again in the same class if they absolutely do not want to do it.

              Let the kids try different activities at a young age. Sometimes they don’t know if they like something until they try it out.

              2. Try Clinics of Camps Before Committing

              Don’t enroll your child in three sports at the same time to see which one they like or excel at. Doing so will make your kid overscheduled. Instead, you can use the summer break or preseason camps or clinics to try a variety of activities they are interested in.

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              As an example, all three of my children said that they wanted to do lacrosse. We had already tried soccer, and it was not successful for two out of three of them. They would rather chase butterflies down the field or play tag than actually participate in their games. Therefore, before committing to lacrosse and spending a great deal of money on their gear, I signed them up for a sample clinic. It was a one-day program that intended to expose children to the sport and see if they would perhaps enjoy playing it. I was surprised to find that the three kids enjoyed lacrosse, so we signed up for the season. It was nice to be able to see them try out the sport in a clinic before committing to an entire season.

              Most towns and cities have parks and recreation department. This is often a good place to check for clinics and camps for various activities. Our local department even offers art and dance classes. Most of them meet between two and four times total, so the children can get some exposure to the activity before signing them up at a private facility for a more long-term commitment.

              3. Take an Inventory of Your Weekly Activities

              Often, we do an activity without reflecting on how much we are already committed to doing each week. Before we commit to any more activities, we must be willing to look at everything that each family member does. Every child’s commitment is another responsibility for the parent as well. Parents must take children to and from each practice, so you need to consider the drive time for any activity.

              For instance, if each of my three kids signed up for three different activities each week, I would be running myself ragged. Three activities for three kids means taking them to nine activities during the week. That doesn’t include the games that will likely be scheduled on the weekends. Three activities for every child, therefore, is too much for our family.

              If some practices overlap on the schedule, then you need two parents or responsible adults to transport the children to different locations. Before you sign them up for multiple activities, you need to factor downtime, stress levels, and your ability to take them to each activity in the equation.

              Consider the following before your kids can commit to various activities:

              • What is the time commitment for the child each week? Do they have enough energy and stamina for the activities? Do they get enough downtime daily to prevent burnout?
              • Is practice time required outside of their scheduled team practices and games?
              • How long is the travel time for you as a parent, along with wait time during practices? Do you have time allowances for these activities in your own schedule?
              • Does the activity time conflict with other activities on the schedule? Will it eliminate family dinners on a regular basis?
              • Does the child really want to do the activity?
              • What is the motivation for signing up for the activity?
              • Is this activity or commitment going to cause a great deal of stress on the child or other family members?

              Check out these time-management tips for parents: 10 Time Management Tips Every Busy Parent Needs to Know.

              Get The Kids Active and Involved!

              Despite everything, it does not mean that you shouldn’t sign your child up for different activities like sports, music, dance, karate, etc. They are all great activities that can help children develop a variety of valuable life skills. The goal is to enroll them in things that they genuinely enjoy and avoid overscheduling kids by not letting them sign up for too many activities at a time.

              More Tips for Scheduling Kids’ Activities

              Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

              Reference

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