This article first appreared in Mamalife Magazine when I was still Social Media Contributor.
There are thousands of Apps available from both the Google Play and Apple stores. It’s hard to know which ones will be useful, which will be fun and which will be a total waste of time. I have my favourites. As a business owner there are some really cool apps to make my work easier and as a parent I found ways to use some of my business apps to help in day to day life too.
I’m sure you have your own favourites and I bet your kids have their favourites too. I asked my students which Apps they would recommend for kids and adults. I’m going to share some suggestions both for you and your children, along with why me and my students think they are great.
Organisation – Google Calendar
This is a free App that is often under utilised. I use it for my business and personal life. I love the fact that you can colour code every event scheduled for quick and easy reference.I have set colours for business things (like meetings, networking events and deadlines) and I save red for those events that simply can’t be moved.
You can share your calendar with whoever you choose so it’s ideal for those with older teens. It’s a great way to make sure the whole family stay organised. Your kids can have their own calendar and share it with you so you both know when homework assignments have to be in by, when they need to be at that rugby match and what parties are coming up. They can keep track of everything going on in their lives and share it with you helping you to plan family activities, work activities and more.
The added benefit of the calendar being visible on every device you own is a must for me. I don’t want to have to peer at my mobile when I’m using the laptop and I certainly don’t want to have to carry the laptop everywhere with me. It also means that if you or the kids lose the phone you haven’t lost your diary. When you renew your tech devices then you just pop the Google Calendar App onto your new device and there is your diary!
Communication – WhatsApp
Again an App you may have heard of or be using but it was so popular with my students I felt it worth including here. The most popular thing seems to be the ability to have group chats without using data or text allowances. Using the app to arrange meetings, parties and events was a particular favourite. This is what one busy mum had to say:
“We love What’s App, too. You can set up a group for whatever is going on in your life. We use it for rugby team, immediate family (which is in Canada/UK), a group of mums, a committee I am on, a party I’m organising…absolutely anything! It’s also good if you travel abroad and don’t want to use texts due to costs, as long as you have wifi, you can communicate with someone through What’s App.”
It’s easy to share text, video and images through the App. Images and video are downloaded to your phone when you view them so do remember to clean your gallery from time to time to save on storage.
Fitness – Instant Heart Rate
It’s vital as parents that we look after ourselves and our bodies too. If we aren’t fit then how are we going to take care of anyone else and what example are we setting our kids. This free little App doesn’t just keep track of your heartbeat as it races away getting stressed with the kids. If you want you can get suggestions for meal plans and workouts, So long as you have a camera on your phone this little App will work.
Meditation – Headspace/Calm
Both Apps have a free and a paid version and are very similar in function. They are designed to keep you from going insane by helping you take a few minutes out of each day to reset your brain through meditation and mindfulness. Don’t worry if you have never tried meditation, either App will walk you through the process with beginner modules. Headspace has the ability in the paid version to set meditation by age. Calm uses relaxing imagery to help you get your head sorted.
Food – BBC Good Food/Tasty
Being short on time or short on ideas can lead to short changing the diet. Home cooking is currently being recommended by doctors in the States to reduce obesity there. But being a parent brings time constraints. BBC good food allows you to search recipes based on the ingredients you have to hand. Both Apps show you how long the meal will take to prepare and cook and Tasty has lots of videos that walk you through step by step. Using BBC Good Food has been a bonus for my daughter in University. She learned to cook herself cheap and healthy meals quickly. Last time she cooked for us she made me cry – the Mexican Chicken dish was way too spicy for me! Delicious but so very hot. I was still very proud of her!
Checking Skincare Ingredients – Think Dirty
We are getting more concerned about what we use on ours and children’s skin. Think Dirty is an easy way to learn about potentially toxic ingredients in your cosmetics and personal care products. It’s an independent source that allows you to compare products as you shop. Just scan the product barcode and Think Dirty will give you easy-to-understand info on the product, help you track dirty ingredients and shop for cleaner options.
Buying/Selling clothes – Depop
Great for the older teen or young adult. A good way to buy cheap and fashionable clothes and to make some money to buy more clothes. Girls in particular are guilty of buying an item, wearing it once and consigning it to the bottom of the floordrobe. This is a great way to keep their wardrobes (and floors) clear of unwanted clothing and to save you money in the process.
Tozzle – create your own jigsaw (Apple only)
Toddlers and preschoolers
Choose from more than 40 different shape puzzles, all including cute sound effects and animations.
Built for children from 1 – 99, Tozzle keeps your toddler entertained while they learn to improve their shape recognition skills and motor activity through Jigsaw style games. Tozzle does not contain any In-App Purchases!
Toddlers and young children
Helps develop spatial recognition, matching, tactile and fine motor skills. Video and audio cues throughout help make the games accessible for children on the Autism spectrum, those in speech therapy and others children with special or complex needs. Each puzzle completed gains a rewarding mini game to play which is also suitable for non neurotypical kids. Expansion packs are available at a price but there is a parental lock to prevent children from buying them accidentally. You can buy the whole 150 puzzle packs for about £25 or you can buy individual packs for around £3. The basic game is free.
Primary School aged kids
Popular with kids and a top pick from the Google Play store editors. Lots included to keep kids entertained and educated. User generated (moderated) content. Encourages imagination. Multiplatform. Chat is limited to protect younger players. This is a platform style game with lots of games with the game to choose from. There is sure to be something to appeal to your little one. Graphics are very basic and it shares a style with the popular MineCraft game – very blocky. Keeps the kids quiet for hours.
Older Primary to young high school
Create your own quizzes (kahoots) quickly and play on your own or with friends. This can be used as an educational tool by both parents, older siblings and teachers. If your kids love to ask questions this could be the perfect answer..
This easy to use drawing App may appeal to your more creative children. They can doodle, draw, colour and play a pictionary style game against others. If you have a Windows device you could just install SketchPad for free too but it’s only a drawing App, no games playing included. This allows your kids to be creative and expressive.
Preschool and Foundation years
This series of Apps is great for helping young kids with their letter and sound recognition, reading and writing. Popular with many parents this can also be used by schools to help with class reading skills.
My Talking Tom
Just for a bit of fun this App is a virtual Pet that talks by recording what you say and repeating it back. I’m sure your kids will have hours of fun irritating you with this one. Your kids are supposed to look after the kitten and grow him to an adult cat – good luck with that one! They may find it was accidentally deleted from their phone while they sleep!
Well that’s a very brief roundup of some Apps you may find helpful, fun and annoying! We are sure you will have your own favourites so be sure to share them with us on Social Media.