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Google Pixel: A Mom’s Best Friend

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Google Pixel: A Mom’s Best Friend

I’m a mom, so I rarely buy myself anything new. When I saw the Google Pixel at the Google Event, I knew it was time to treat myself.

I had been using an old 16GB Samsung S4, one that had been handed down to me. Sure, it was still functioning, but it was getting slow, and I wasn’t happy with the photo quality anymore. I took the plunge and pre-ordered the Pixel, and in it, found my new best friend.

Meeting the Google Pixel

google-pixel
    Image by Google

    The first thing I noticed, after I unboxed my beloved new Google Pixel, was that there were no earphones in the box. It’s not a big deal to me, as I still have my good old Samsung earbuds, it’s just one of those things one has grown to expect when getting a new phone. One less pair of earbuds I have to hide from my child, I suppose.

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    Another thing I didn’t realize: The Google Pixel uses USB-C cables to charge, not the Micro-USB that many phones use. The Pixel comes with a wall charger and not one, but two cables. One is USB-C to USB-C, which plugs in to the wall charger. The second is USB-C to USB. This is great because I can leave one plugged in at home, and one plugged in to my computer at work. Not that I ever have to top up the charge on this phone part way through the day.

    The first full day I had the phone I played with it all day. I took pictures and video, changed settings, streamed Netflix, scrolled through Pinterest, asked the Assistant dumb questions, read an e-book. By the time I went to bed, it still had 58% charge. It was then that I knew I was in love.

    Picture Quality

    Google Pixel photo
      The morning sky, captured by my Google Pixel.

      The picture quality of the 12.3 megapixel camera is unlike anything I have ever seen on a cell phone. One of the reasons that I wanted to upgrade was that the picture quality on the older phone was noticeably poor. Because I am primarily using my phone to take pictures of my child, I obviously want these to be the best they can be.

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      While I did notice some of the lens flare that seems to be angering others, I’m not too concerned with it. Google is working on a software update that will reportedly be out in the next few weeks. In the meantime, I’m considering the occasional flare a bit of artsy panache added to my pictures.

      Video Stabilization

      The video stabilization in the Google Pixel is glorious. I have a toddler who doesn’t sit still, so I am constantly chasing her with the camera. You will have to take my word on how remarkably smooth it is. It really is as good as the demo at the Google Event.

      Google Photos

      Can we talk about unlimited online storage for photos and video at full resolution? Google Photos is obviously the best thing that has ever happened to parents who take far too many pictures of their children. This is perfect for me, because:

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      1. I rarely take the time to transfer the astronomical amount of photos I have stored on my phone to my computer.
      2. I am terrified that a natural disaster will wipe out the thousands of baby photos I have stored on my computer.

      Any time you need to free up space, you just go in to Google Photos and click ‘Free Up Space’. It will tell you if the photos have been backed up to your Google Photo library, and if it’s safe to remove them from your device. It couldn’t be easier.

      Google Assistant

      The Assistant and I are in the early days of our friendship, but I already like her. She makes it easy to schedule appointments and send texts when my hands are full of kid. She helps me build my grocery list and will give me a briefing on my day. I can even take hands-free photos!

      google-pixel-screenshot

        Google Assistant is able to remember the context of a line of questioning, so you can ask several questions in a row about the same subject. The Assistant, like Siri, also has some great scripted answers to certain questions. Go ahead and ask her who shot first. And don’t forget to try “I’m Feeling Lucky”.

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        It is, of course, a learning process, and not all answers are witty, nor is everything I say understood. I look forward to seeing what a more personalized experience is like as the AI gets to know me better.

        Reduced Bloatware

        I like my carrier, I’m with them for a reason, but I never use any of the extra apps they install on the phone. Sure you can disable some, but rarely can you uninstall them, only their updates. It was the same thing with the added Samsung bloatware. Here I was, stuck with apps taking up space that I could be using for other apps that actually interest me. With the Google Pixel, you can actually delete the pre-installed apps that you don’t want.

        Fingerprint Reader

        Having never had one, I am especially happy with the fingerprint reader. My daughter discovered a work-around to the locked screen on the S4: if you press the home button enough times, the phone will access S Voice and just unlock. Like it’s been broken under torture. This doesn’t happen with the Google Pixel. It’s really handy having the reader on the back of the phone, as you can hold the phone naturally and unlock it. And you can set up prints for more than one finger, so I can use either hand.

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        I would definitely recommend this phone to those who are looking for something new, and a little different than what they are used to. I particularly recommend this to the Mama Tribe. The smartphone has become an important tool for modern mothers, and the Google Pixel makes using a smartphone even easier and more convenient than it has been in the past few years. You’ll want to keep this phone all for yourself, and out of the mitts, and mouths, of babes.

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        Last Updated on October 7, 2021

        Why Spending Time With Your Family Is Important (And How To Do So)

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        Why Spending Time With Your Family Is Important (And How To Do So)

        In today’s chaotic world, having family time isn’t always easy. It can get pretty hard to coordinate schedules, especially if the family is large. Life demands that we work, attend school, nurture friendships, hobbies, etc. All of those things are extremely time-consuming and important—but so is spending time with your family.

        Why is family time so important? Because we all need love and support, and a good, strong family can provide that regularly. For children, spending time with their family helps shape them into good, responsible adults, improve their mental health, and develop strong core values.

        There are many positive effects of spending time with your family. My family and I, for instance (and this includes grandchildren as well), meet every Tuesday night for dinner and games. My older son and I take turns cooking. This gives all of us a chance to try some new recipes. After dinner, we play games. And without fail, they inspire competitiveness and laughter. As family night has evolved, the grandkids have invited their friends over as well, creating the need for more chairs but also expanding our circle of fun.

        Aside from the obvious fun and games, there are other reasons why spending time with your family is paramount. In this article, I will provide you with multiple reasons why spending time with your family regularly is a win-win. And then, I will lay out some ways on how to do it.

        Let’s get started, shall we?

        Why Spending Time With Your Family Is Important

        Here are six reasons why it’s important to spend time with your family.

        1. Provides the Opportunity to Bond

        When you spend time together as a family—talking about your day, your highs, your lows—it fosters communication. As parents, it gives you the chance to listen to your children, to hear them out, to learn about what’s going on in their world. It also provides you with the opportunity to use life situations as teaching moments.

        Before our Tuesday night dinner/game nights, my family used to see each other pretty regularly but not consistently, especially the grandkids. Our family night changed all that. Now, it’s guaranteed that the grandchildren, along with some of their friends, will be there. Not only do I get to find out what’s been happening in their lives, but they also get to know us better. It’s creating memories they can treasure forever, as well as modeling the Get-Together tradition for when they eventually have families of their own.

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        “Spending time partaking in everyday family leisure activities has been associated with greater emotional bonding within families.”[1]

        2. Teaches the Value of Family

        Taking the time to be with your family lets your children know they are valued—that spending time together is a priority. I know that in today’s world, both parents are busy as both usually working. What better way to let your children know they are loved than by carving out time each week to spend with them?

        According to Marilyn Price-Mitchell, Ph.D., “words like honesty, trust, fairness, respect, responsibility, and courage are core to centuries of religious, philosophical, and family beliefs. Use them and others to express and reinforce your family values. Teach children the behaviors that flow from these principles. Use quotes to ignite meaningful dinner conversations and encourage kids to talk about these values.”[2]

        3. Enhances Mental Well-Being

        Spending that quality time together gives your children a safe platform in which to express themselves, ask questions about things that are bothering them, or talk about their day and things they’ve learned. I know that my 9-year old granddaughter can’t wait until it’s her turn to talk about her day. She usually goes on and on and has to be stopped to give everyone else a chance to talk about their goings-on.

        “Research shows the quality of family relationships is more important than their size or composition. Whoever the family is made up of, they can build strong, positive relationships that promote wellbeing and support children and young people’s mental health.”[3]

        For children, having the opportunity to seek advice from parents they trust—as well as being able to have a sounding board and help with problem-solving—is priceless. In addition, being able to voice their opinions and be heard—and to feel like what they have to say matters—is an esteem-builder. All of these can have a very impactful positive effect on their well-being.

        4. Helps the Child Feel Loved

        How do you think a child feels knowing their parents want to spend time with them—talking, sharing experiences, playing games, listening to them? It will make them feel as though they are important, and a child that feels important is happier and more apt to thrive. Setting aside chores or work to spend time with your children demonstrates that they’re essential—that they matter. What a gift to give your child!

        “If a child has your undivided attention, it signals that they are loved and important to you. This can be further nurtured by experiencing joyful activities together, as it demonstrates that you want to spend time with your children over and above all of the daily demands.”[4]

        5. Creates a Safe Environment

        If you regularly spend time with your children, you are also creating an atmosphere of trust. The more trust they have, the more likely they are to share with you what’s going on in their world. As they get older, you’re going to want to know. Negative influences can show up at any time, but if you’ve always been there for your child, they are more apt to come to you and ask for your advice.

        Spending time together generates familiarity and feelings of being supported. When a child feels safe and comfortable, they’re more likely to open up. This is one way to get to know your child and know what’s on their minds. Are they okay? Do they need your guidance? If so, how?

        6. Reduces Stress

        This is significant. We all suffer from stress at one point or another in our lives. Spending time with family helps alleviate that stress. It’s an opportunity to talk things out, get feedback, and maybe brainstorm for a solution to the problem that is causing the stress.

        According to Brandy Drzymkowski, “During the holidays, your closest five people probably shifts to family and friends. You may even get to see loved ones who live far away. Good news! This can actually help lower your stress levels. Studies show ‘face-to-face interaction…counteracts the body’s defensive ‘fight-or-flight’ response.’ In other words, quality time spent with loved ones is nature’s stress reliever.”[5]

        So, now that you know some of the benefits, what are some ideas for making family time happen?

        How to Make Family Time Happen

        Here are four things you can do to make family time happen and spend more time with them.

        1. Family Dinners

        This, as I said above, is a wonderful way to spend time together. While you’re having dinner, you have the chance to discuss things that are going on in your lives—the ups, the downs, and everywhere in between. It’s like having a buffer against life’s challenges.

        Aside from that, eating dinner together has many additional benefits. Studies have shown that for kids who eat regularly with their families, there is less risk of substance abuse, teen pregnancy, and depression.[6]

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        “Our belief in the ‘magic’ of family dinners is grounded in research on the physical, mental and emotional benefits of regular family meals.” It further states, “We recommend combining food, fun and conversation at mealtimes because those three ingredients are the recipe for a warm, positive family dinner—the type of environment that makes these scientifically proven benefits possible.”[7]

        According to Parenting NI, “children and adolescents who spend more time with their parents are less likely to get involved in risky behavior. According to studies done by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse via Arizona State University, teens who have infrequent family dinners are twice as likely to use tobacco, nearly twice as likely to use alcohol and one and a half times more likely to use marijuana.”[8]

        As you can see, there are multiple benefits to spending time with each other routinely. You can’t go wrong with this family activity.

        2.  Regular Movie Nights

        This is another fun event, although, from personal experience, I have to caution that choosing a movie that everyone wants to see is not easy. So, give yourselves plenty of time so you don’t spend two hours searching for a movie, and then end up watching no movie at all because the night is practically over. Try and choose a movie before the day, if possible.

        Afterward, open it up for discussion. Ask questions pertinent to the movie. What do you think of ABC? Should they have done that? Would you have done something differently? There are so many questions you can ask to spark a conversation and keep the night going.

        3. Game Night

        This is another occasion for great fun. If you have a competitive spirit, it makes it even more fun. There are numerous games out there—Balderdash, Pictionary, Apples to Apples, Charades, to name a few—that can create fun havoc. All I can say is, on game nights, don’t take yourself too seriously. It’s okay if you lose the game. The fun is in being together, laughing, debating, and having a good time.

        In addition, “Playing board games is great for children for many reasons besides the obvious; it’s fun to play games! Age appropriate games can help children to think strategically, solve problems creatively, work on pattern recognition and build simple math skills. They also help children develop social skills such as following rules, taking turns, and graceful winning or losing. Additionally, a family game night provides an opportunity for children to bond with siblings, parents and family members as well as peers. It can promote tradition building and establish a fun routine.”[9]

        So, go find your family a game and start having fun!

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        4. Sharing a Hobby

        If you and one of your kids like to do the same things, do it more often. For example, my oldest son and his teenage son go on long bike rides together on the weekends. Not only do they get to exercise, but they also get to talk and look at beautiful sceneries. They’ve also incorporated cooking into their routine. They plan the meal, shop, and prepare—activities that bring them closer together.

        Sharing a hobby is a great way to bring family members together. It bonds people in amazing ways. According to Alison Ratner Mayer, LICSW, “One of the easiest and most important ways to build a child’s self-esteem is to spend time with them doing something not only that they enjoy but something that you also enjoy. There is a special magic that happens between a parent and a child when they share a mutually beloved activity. It sends the message to the child that their parents are having fun, true, honest, real fun, with them.”[10]

        Final Thoughts

        Spending time with the family is an investment. It is an investment in the happiness, well-being, and security of that system. It can also serve as a way to break out of the daily rut and the constant worldly demands, while at the same time, building a strong family unit.

        Even though it isn’t always easy to find the time, finding the time is key to staying close and to providing and receiving love and support. There is no greater gift than the gift of time. That’s what we all seem to be missing nowadays. So, in giving that gift consistently, everyone feels loved and appreciated.

        The family that takes the time to interact regularly is typically happy. They know they are part of a tribe, and that’s essential in today’s chaotic world. To know that there are people whom you can count on—people who will have your back in times of need—is invaluable.

        Now, go and plan something plan with your family, if you haven’t already.

        Featured photo credit: Jimmy Dean via unsplash.com

        Reference

        [1] Pittsburgh Parent: Spending Time Together—Benefits of Family Time
        [2] Roots of Action: Integrity: How Families Teach and Live Their Values
        [3] Beyond Blue: Healthy Families
        [4] Esperance Anglican Community School: The importance of family time
        [5] Brandy Drzymkowski: Spending Time With Loved Ones Reduces Stress
        [6] Harvard Graduate School of Education: Harvard EdCast: The Benefit of Family Mealtime
        [7] The Family Dinner Project: BENEFITS OF FAMILY DINNERS
        [8] Parenting NI: The Importance of Spending Time Together
        [9] WNY Children: Family Game Night- The Benefits of Game Play
        [10] Child Therapy Boston: The Benefits of Sharing a Hobby With Your Child

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