Staying Sane? There’s an App for That

PBS Kids, making us feel better about screen time one Daniel Tiger song at a time.

Every single time the power goes out, I try to use something that requires power. It never fails. After a short (but not short enough) mental delay, I am left feeling like a first world idiot. Last summer we had a huge line of storms come through, of course right as it was time to cook dinner. Pretty normal for summers on the Carolina coast. The heat and humidity just build and build and explodes into pop-up thunder clouds right before the sun goes down. So here I am, chicken in the oven, almost done, and a huge flash…uh oh…thunder…then the power blinks, struggles a bit, and goes out for good. Immediately I think, “Great. Ok. No big deal, it was almost done I can throw it in the microwave!” But no. “Ugh. OK lets turn the light on and just think this through.” But no. It always throws me for a loop!

Nowadays we also feel like this when, for whatever reason, we don’t have our phones. It’s unbelievable how much I have come to rely on that tiny little rectangle in the past seven or so years. This past fall my phone decided to utterly fall apart when I removed the case, and I was without my phone for a week. It was, in a way, a great experience and made me strive to be unplugged more, but it also made me realize just how useful (and sometimes essential) it can be in the mom world. For one, I had to research ways to contact 911 if my kids had an emergency! To save you the trouble, I learned that any old cell phone is required to be able to call 911, even if it’s not connected to a service. Same goes for a plugged-in house phone. Supposedly, not sure how you test that out! Luckily I didn’t have to.

When we started dreaming up this blog, we both agreed that our driving focus was to share tips for staying sane. We wanted to share things that helped us, commiserate with other mothers, and keep our creative sides occupied- all of which contribute to our overall sanity. So we have compiled a small list of our favorite apps. A tiny nod to the technology that has made our lives easier. The ones that come to our aid the most:

  • Amazon– Nothing here that will throw you off your rocker, but we are all about apps that save time and money. Amazon Prime & Amazon Pantry are bonafide lifesavers. We order diapers, paper towels, toilet paper, dog food, laundry detergent, and other monthly essentials, on top of birthday gifts, party decor, books, etc! Also good to know- several stores, including Target, price match Amazon if there is something you want that you just can’t way 2 days for.
  • Walmart Grocery– Another popular app and overall no-brainer. But this was a game changer for me when it came to mindful purchasing and monthly budgeting. I often forget things at the store, and with this system you can continue to add to your order until the night before pick-up. Our local Walmart also started offering delivery, which was well worth the $10 fee when we were all sick a couple weeks ago!
  • InkCards & TouchNote– Both of these apps serve the same purpose. Kate uses one, Elizabeth the other, so we included both! These are a cheap and easy way to send cards to loved ones for any occasion. Custom cards with your own photos, cheaper than Hallmark, and you don’t need a stamp or a trip to the mailbox. They do everything for you. When my friends need a little pick-me-up, this is where I go!
The sweetest response ever from one of Elizabeth’s friends!
  • Lightroom CC– Photoshop and Lightroom are photo editing programs that are not generally free, but the Lightroom CC app for phones is free and is pretty amazing for editing photos on-the-go! Take your Instagram game up a notch by getting this app and playing around. There is even an autocorrect image feature if you don’t feel very photo savvy!
  • Robot Vaccum– If you have a Robot Vacuum, this app is awesome for scheduling cleanings and even finding the dang thing. It just makes things that much easier!
  • TimeHop– If you don’t have this app, GET IT NOW! It takes all of your photos from various photo sharing services (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google Photos) and gives you a daily update of what you shared a year ago, 5 years ago, 9 years ago. It really does make my day to see pictures of my newborn baby from a year ago (insert tears the day THOSE photos started showing up because she turned one) or a sweet picture of me and my husband from our college days. I feel like I am reminded of so many photos and memories I otherwise may have forgotten about.
Newborn baby memories! As if first birthdays weren’t hard enough!
  • DT Parents– That DT is for Daniel Tiger, folks. Ever heard of him? Well our kids LOVE that delightful little PBS show, and while it can wear on the nerves, it really does contain meaningful messages for kids. The DT Parents app organizes the songs from episodes into common issues or feelings your child may experience, like sharing or being sad, so that you can have Daniel Tiger sing them a song about it. It may sound silly, but when your toddler is in a mood, who better to talk to them about it? YOU or an orange tiger cub? Yep, I agree.
  • ToneitUP– I think every mom desires a simple, cheap workout app that is actually practical, when so many promise to be. I can barely use the bathroom alone, how in the world am I supposed to find 30 minutes to myself to complete a workout?? This is a tried and true app by Kate. If you are looking for something to tone up a little for summer, start here!
  • Hatch Baby– This is specifically for newborns and infants. It is a wonderful app for tracking diaper changes, feedings, weight, pumping, etc. There is a stopwatch feature for nursing (and it records which side) so in those early days when you can’t even remember your middle name, you know when you last fed your little one and for how long. Your partner can also have the app on his or her phone with the same login so you can both add in baby-specific details, like logging that middle-of-the-night blowout that dad was lucky enough to change.
  • Chatbooks– Y’all, I cannot say enough good things about Chatbooks. Chatbooks was originally started to make photo series books from your Instagram account, but now allows you to make custom books and pull photos from Facebook and your photo library too. You can keep captions as they were posted or go in and edit. I currently have them printed for my kids from 0-6, 6-12, and 12-18 months. While these treasured books are for me right now, I cannot wait to gift them to my kids when they get older and show them all of the memories they are too young to remember for themselves. Almost a photo a day, with a caption from mom. I may never be able to part with them!
Elizabeth’s Chatbooks collection. So far she has printed 0-6mo, 6-12mo, and 12-18mo for her oldest and 0-6mo for her youngest. She plans to keep it up throughout their preschool years. The greatest memories they may not remember.
  • Baby Coloring– This is what I call my “doctor’s office app.” It’s the perfect calm “game” to keep kids busy without being glued to a show. It’s extremely simple and both of my kids (13 months and almost 3 years) can use it. You pick a coloring tool and use your finger to color a picture, the end. Sounds boring but I swear my husband will color with my kids for an hour if you let him!
  • The Wonder Weeks– Wonder Weeks has been a lifesaver! Every time one of the kiddos is having a hard couple of days, I check this app to see if they are currently in a leap of development. The apps shows what their brains are focusing on during their current stage and what new skills they may be developing in the near future.
  • Dino Puzzle-This app is great for quiet places, like appointments, meetings, or even car rides. Dino puzzles are just that, digital puzzles for your child to do. Our toddlers currently love Dinosaurs, so its a huge hit for them!
  • White Noise & Sleep Pillow– Until I had a 2nd baby, the iPad was our noise machine and Sleep Pillow the weapon of choice. When we had two babies we decided we might want an ACTUAL sound machine, especially since the iPad got taken over with Baby Coloring and PBS Kids! Having these apps are great for playing in the car, staying in a hotel, or even placing in the stroller on a nap time walk.
  • Pandora– Ending with another no-brainer. Pandora has been around for over a decade, I remember logging onto it in college from my computer. But if you aren’t using it to play children’s songs, make workout stations, or have a dance party in you’re living room, you’re doing it wrong!
Dance party in progress. When she asks for a dress and her shoes, she means business!

If you have any other mom-tastic apps that you can share with us, please do!

XOXO, Elizabeth & Kate