Clothes? Meh. Dining out. Okay. But gadgets? OMG how I love gadgets.
I used to have a Blackberry for work. But my first one didn’t work anymore and so I got a second one. Mateo, our son, has always loved gadgets, too, so I gave that first one, six years old and beyond repair, to him. It was adorable to see him walk around the house saying “Hello.” And then some garbled language only he and his sister could understand.
We have an iPod and a docking station that used to live in our bathroom to provide good music while getting ready for work. Now that iPod and docking station belongs to the kids and resides in the kitchen with various playlists of calming instrumental music, and nursery rhymes (blech), and jazz, and hip hop. And Christmas music. They ask for Jingle Bells at breakfast. The Johnny Mathis version.
My family was quite impressed with my conscious restraint to wait a whole year after the iPhone came out before getting one. And I’ll just say right now: the iPhone has a few times been THE magic fairy dust to calm some pretty stormy toddlery seas, real or perceived. I have a few go-to Apps when the need arises, for example:
Flickr – for those precarious times in the late afternoon when they’re tired but its not quite dinner time. We’ll look through photos (not surprisingly, one or both kids are in most pictures) and talk about the memory – the rodeo, Christmas, the Easter bunny, swimming. Since we live far from most family, we also flip through Flickr albums in the days leading up to a trip to see relatives so they’re not too stranger-dangery about them.
Balloonimals – This little app has a Lite version that’s free and only has one balloon animal, but the paid version ($0.99, I think), has five or so animals that you inflate by blowing into the phone and then shaking it to twist the balloon until it’s a full-blown dinosaur/crab/kangaroo/fish. And then when you touch the animal, the animal moves in some way, or blows a bubble, or what have you. Our rock-star pediatrician introduced us to this one, when he pulled out his iPhone to use Balloonimals during an office visit, distracting the kid long enough to check their ears.
iTunes – I downloaded three half hour episodes, one each of Sesame Street, Dora The Explorer, and Backyardigans (thanks for that suggestion way back when, LauraC) and they are available as needed. Like when we were trying to have brunch with some friends who were in town for a short time and it was a gorgeous morning and we were eating on the patio of the restaurant and the kids wanted down! down! down! and we had barely started our breakfast. Vámanos! Or like when we had to wait an hour for a sick visit on a Saturday morning and we had already run through our song singing, and coloring books, and snacks. Or like when we had to go to the urgent care clinic to seal the boy’s forehead closed – Mateo was so into helping Dora find the Puppy that he never even flinched. We did it!
So far, those apps have sufficed for us in emergency situations. But I polled a group of parents of toddlers for their favorite apps, too. I’ve yet to check them out, but thought I’d share them here: Zoo Sounds, Hear Ewe, Farm Sounds, Animals Lite, Cat Sounds, iTots Flashcards, Numbers, Lunch Box, Tozzle, and Seuss ABC.
How about you, if you ride the iPhone bandwagon, what are your favorite kid apps? And whether or not you have an iPhone, tell us about your techy gadget toddler-friendly love. That video player in the car? An iPod to tune everybody else out? A beloved sound machine so you can run the washing machine without waking up the kids? (I have all those, too.) Happy gadgets to you all!
Rachel is a work-out-of-the-home mom who justified the iPhone purchase because she couldn’t open work files on the Blackberry. She also writes about her family at Motherhood.Squared