Technological advancements don’t just benefit big corporations and ultra-rich celebrities – they can be a lifeline for busy parents too! We often get so caught up in the breaking news (What Elon Musk has sent into space this week? Who has Facebook been caught handing our info out to this time?) that we forget that technology could vastly improve our home lives if we only gave it the chance. Admittedly there are those who are sceptical of what role technology should have in child-raising, and of course they make very valid points – yes, children should have limited screen time, yes, there are some risks to using social media. But overall, today’s parents are benefitting from technology - using it to their advantage as they raise their kids and run a busy household.
Social Media Platforms
Modern mums and dads are a force to be reckoned with when it comes to using social media. Blogs, forums, social networks, online reviews, all of these are tools which contemporary parents are only too eager to pick up and run with. There are countless Facebook community pages that are run for parents, by parents. Members are usually vetted before they can join the page, and administrators monitor members comments and posts to ensure that they abide by the rules. The Facebook pages can be area-specific (think Sydney Eastern Suburbs Mums or Mums of Port Macquarie & Surrounds) or just for anyone who is interested (like Dads Group Inc). These online communities give parents a safe place to ask questions, purchase second-hand clothes and toys and, most importantly, feel connected to parents.
Apps like Instagram and Snapchat that have a ‘story’ feature give parents the chance to interact with professionals like The Sleep Mama, and influencers like Vanessa Prosser or @ripsnorter. Experts and influencers often do Q&A sessions via their stories with followers who are looking for advice on their child or home life – meaning parents merely need to look their phones for a bit of extra guidance and encouragement.
And then, of course, there’s the Parents board on Pinterest that has over 200,000 followers and counting. In decades gone by, being able to have this type of instantaneous connection with people and information that spans both continents and cultures was impossible.
Hip & ‘Appening
It is comforting to know that for every app that allows you to crush a candy or launch an angry bird into an unstable structure, there is an app that has been designed to help parents with everyday life. For parents that breastfeed, there are now a wide variety of breastfeeding tracker apps that let you record when your baby feeds and for how long so that it's easy for you to pick up on any changes in your baby’s appetite. Having Skype on your phone as well as your desktop means that you and your children can easily keep in touch with family (video calling is particularly important if relatives live in another state or country)
Then there are apps like Airtasker, which wasn’t specifically designed to solely assist parents but is now a hit with pram-pushers everywhere. The concept for the company was conceived when the co-founder was moving apartments. He asked a friend who had a large truck to help, as many of us have done when its time to move out. While this friend was happy to help, he mentioned that this was the fourth time he had been asked to help move furniture within six months. This made co-founder Tim Fung question why we repeatedly ask our busy friends and family for help with everyday tasks when there are so many removalists, painters, and babysitters out there who are looking for work. Tasking apps like this are a godsend for parents who may need someone to watch their children between school finishing and the end of the working day or to cook some nutritious meals for the family ahead of a hectic week. Another huge win for parents is that all major banks and building societies have their own apps, so you no longer need to wait in line with a cranky toddler just to make a simple transaction.
Gadgets for Kids
Let’s not forget the entire section of the tech industry that is dedicated to childcare! Taking your baby’s temperature has never been easier, now that you can get dummies and adhesive patches with built-in thermometers. Video Monitors are perfect for toddlers who may be going through the 4-month or 18-month sleep regression because they allow the parent to see if their child is sleeping, or just climbing out of bed and wandering around instead. Sleep technology is extremely popular (no surprises there!) and you can now buy baby mobiles that sense when your baby is awake and unsettled, before intuitively playing soothing music with gentle lights to get them back to sleep. This saves parents from the horror of having to constantly get up and down during the night to turn on the mobile.
While there are plenty of advocates that long for the good ‘old days, it’s important to remember that there is no need to feel guilty for making your job as a parent that little bit easier. It’s true what they say, it is better to work smarter than it is to work harder, and when it comes down to parenting working smarter means more time to spend with your family.