Whether we like it or not, the use of smart phones and technology in our lives has become an intrinsic part of our existence. The media often flips between bemoaning the ‘death of outside time’ and the educational virtues of kids using technology.
We hear again and again about the dangers of screen time but we also hear about how digital (and increasingly, virtual) skills are needed for our children to not only succeed but to keep up in the first place.
Parenting Apps and Podcasts – Using Tech to support your Tribe
Many of us are finding ourselves increasingly time-poor. We want to spend time with our families, with our partners, with our relatives, with our friends, doing things around the home and working on our careers – but we’re looking at a rapidly draining pool of available time.
What if we find ways to use these new technologies that we’re carrying around in our pockets as time-savers, not distractors?
We’ve put together a list of podcast and apps that you can use to save time, organise yourself, make better choices for your family, improve your relationships AND learn new things.
The best part about them? All of these are completely free! (If you download your podcasts at home so you don’t chew through your data, that is!)
Applications (apps) that are useful for parents
If you’re not familiar with apps the first thing you need to find the App store using your phone – it should be an icon on your home screen. You’ll be able to find a little search window where you can look up the names of the apps listed below.
Wunderlist is the organisational app to end all organisational apps. It’s deliciously simple – a to-do list with a difference. Wunderlist asks you to split your lists into categories – for example, I have “Groceries” , “Work” and “To Do”. All I do inside these lists is put items in so I can remember them then, when the task is completed, I tick it off with my finger to the tune of a happy little ‘ding’!
The coolest thing about Wunderlist, however, is that you can share the lists with someone else. We share our “Groceries” list. If I’m at home and realise that we’re out of milk and add it to the list, my husband will get a notification that something has been added. If he’s out he’ll get the milk and then I’ll be notified that it has been picked up. THERE IS NO NEED FOR THE “WE ARE OUT OF MILK” CONVERSATION EVER AGAIN.
For some next level organisation you can also sync Wunderlist to both Outlook and Siri!
Family Map can be used by anyone who has a smart phone. The program will ask you to create your family by adding names and phone numbers. Then (and this is the very futuristic part) it tracks them! If I open up my Family Map and click on any of the icons that represent different people (you can add your own photos) the map will flick to exactly where they are at any given time.
You can turn off tracking at any point (particularly important to remember around birthday present shopping time) and then easily turn it back on again. Useful for checking how far away people are, making sure teenagers are where they said they would be or even just reassurance during the day. It’s not for everyone but I quite like seeing my family bop around all over the map!
Rather than the Outlook calendar that comes with smart phones, downloading the Google App allows you to see further into advance, use visuals to represent places and times and more easily connect with the other platforms you’re using. Google Calendar is a very user-friendly calendar that you can use to invite others in your family to operate inside.
Save the Date to Vaccinate
This is a reminder tool to ensure your children are vaccinated on schedule. Once you input their information you’ll get a series of reminders and a personalised immunisation schedule. This is really handy for anyone busy (so, all of us!) who has trouble keeping track of every single appointment.
Find Immunisation Clinics – Gold Coast, Tweed Shire, Byron Shire
Red Cross First Aid
What if something happens and you need to know how to help NOW? This is an app that can come in really handy while you wait for an ambulance to arrive. This app gives you instant access to what you need to know in common emergencies. The advice is interactive and given to you in step-by-step guides to help you keep cool under pressure. Fingers crossed you never need to use it but it’s there if you do!
ABC Kids iView
It’s ABC kids in your pocket! Sometimes we all need a little Peppa Pig to help us get through a particularly painful grocery shop. The great thing about using this as opposed to YouTube is that kids can select what they want to watch AND you don’t need to worry about anything inappropriate popping up.
Today’s Parent My Family – Pregnancy, Baby, Toddler, Child Development
This is Canadian but there’s nothing to worry aboot! This is a personalised guide that gives you tips, recipe ideas, health information (check against Australian standards) and developmental advice. You can use a feature called Storybooks to put together your photos and videos. You’ll find trackers that can assist with recording information to do with naps and feedings. There are toilet training tools that can help your kids as well as you and how-to videos on everything you can imagine!
Podcasts that can improve your parenting experience
The podcast has taken a while to really build up steam but now, because of series like Serial and Conversations, it’s definitely here to stay. Your phone should show you a little podcast icon that might look like a radio tower. Open it up and start searching around – there is a never-ending supply of interesting, varied and creative content out there to wrap your little ears around! Here are just a few that can be applied to parenting…
The Mamamia Podcast Network
The Mamamia Podcast Network have a range of quite varied programs ranging from serious long-form interviews to baudy discussions on television and pop culture. They even have their own app that keeps them all in place!
Inside the network there are three podcasts that directly relate to parenting with more in the works.
- This Glorious Mess is hosted by Holly Wainwright and Andrew Daddo. It’s a discussion of the big current issues in parenting along with a cute segment called “Nailed or Failed” where the hosts talk to the audience about their successes and stumbles with their own kids.
- I Don’t Know How She Does It is an interview series where prominent Australian women (who also happen to be mothers) discuss how they manage their time to live their most effective lives possible.
- The Parent Code is hosted by Jo Abi and looks at the secret world of the school parent. Hot button topics like homework, volunteering at school and negotiating play dates are discussed in depth.
This certainly is not marketed as a parenting podcast, even though there are some episodes devoted to it, but this is a great source of inspiration if you’re looking to streamline your own situation. The hosts take a close look at how you can simplify and minimalise your own existence and the impact that can have on your mood, relationships and health. Interesting stuff.
Raising Children Network
This is an Australian resource that you’re probably familiar with. This has a range of short podcasts that explore really specific topics, for example managing conflict, looking at specific disabilities and shyness.
Quiet: The Power of Introverts with Susan Cain
Often introverted children (and their parents) are lead to believe that there’s something wrong with being quiet. Susan Cain disagrees. This is a 10 part series that explores the power of contemplation and how we can help our quiet children to find their way without compromising who they are.
The Longest Shortest Time
The Longest Shortest Time markets itself as “The parenting show for everyone!”. This is a series that takes its cues from a famous podcast called “This American Life” – these are long-form interviews with different people that have very different messages to tell about their experiences in the parenting world. Fascinating, mesmerising stuff.
Using Tech to support your Tribe
You can use apps and listen to podcasts at any time. Cooking, cleaning, exercising, driving, running errands – these are all perfect opportunities to use technology to see if it can make your life a little easier, funner or more enriched.
This is by no means an exhaustive list and we’d love to know if you have any more suggestions. Feel free to add them in the comments.