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Parents Panel: What are your must-have apps for family life?

From educational games to the local mums’ network – our panel share their go-to tech tools.

Source: Shutterstock/Twin Design

AS PART OF TheJournal.ie’s weekly Family Magazine, we wanted to create a space for parents to share their views. A place where mums and dads could share their experiences, lessons learned, and even mistakes along the way. 

This week, we asked our panel to share their must-have apps as parents. Apps for saving time, for keeping the kids entertained, or just for helping keep track of the million and one jobs that seem to crop up in everyday life. 

So what were their top picks? Read on below…

Top L-R: Olly Keegan, Alan Dooley, Denise, Ken Hyland. Middle L-R: Ríona Flood, Ross Boxshall, Marta Lisiecka, Denise Cumiskey. Bottom L-R: Kait Quinn, Susannah O’Brien, Derek McInerney, Suzie Kelly

Keeping in touch with family around the world
Facetime is the most important app for us. With family abroad it allows our little one daily interactions with them. At ten months, Clíodhna gets excited at the ring tone and takes the phone so she can ‘talk’ (aka babble) to her grand-parents, uncles, aunts and cousins.

- Riona Flood

Songs to help with new tasks
I do my utmost to keep them away from tablets and my phone. We used the potty song from YouTube when Aoíbh was being potty trained and it worked an absolute treat. And we used to play the toothbrush song when learning to brush teeth (again from YouTube). Otherwise we avoid tablets and phones. Trying my best to keep them away as long as I can.

- Denise Cahill

The cartoon hall of fame
I have some of her favourite songs on an old iPod for when she starts to play up when we are out in the car, so I can just plug it in and we can sing away. Also when we are at home, she likes to look at YouTube videos of some of her favourite cartoons – Scooby Doo, Peppa Pig and so on.

- Denise Cumiskey

Source: Shutterstock

Keeping track of life’s chaos
The app that we’d find most useful is Google Calendar. We have a family calendar on it, as well as our own personal calendars. So anything that relates to family stuff, activities for our son, staying away for work, personal activities etc is there. This allows us both to have instant access to everything that’s going on and is so handy when trying to organise something.

- Olly K

A social lifeline… and good advice
WhatsApp is great for a social outlet and keeping in touch with friends from home. When you don’t have a lot of time to meet up sans kids it’s a good way to stay in the loop or catch up. It’s also great for organising play dates, walks etc. My local mums’ WhatsApp group is a brilliant source of information and advice, too.

- Kait Strickland

Treats… for a limited time
In simple terms, it’s just Netflix and YouTube. If it was up to them, they’d want access to the tablet at every turn, but we restrict it. During the week, they are only allowed to use it to watch a video, for a very limited time. If there is any misbehaving, then no tablet. At the weekend, they might get to play some video games.

- Alan Dooley

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Source: Shutterstock/goodmoments

Baby songs and in-car entertainment
It’s mostly Spotify for playing some Polish baby songs. If we are driving far and he’s not asleep and starts complaining I play an episode or two of Fireman Sam on Youtube. That’s really it, I try not to use to my phone in front of Tymek much.

- Marta Lisiecka

Educational games
For the kids, we have an excellent suite of apps for the iPad from a company called Osmo. They produce a clever and fun range of interactive educational and drawing games. The kids love them and we really recommend them.

- Ross Boxshall

Learning languages for homework and more
With kids the age mine are, technology and apps are huge parts of their lives. We do limit their screen time but give them half a chance and they have their heads buried in a phone/tablet/console.

One of my favourite apps is Duolingo. It was recommended to me by a friend and is a great app for learning languages. The kids use it for helping with their Irish for school. It’s simple to use, has a massive choice of languages to learn, can listen to you speak the language to check pronunciation, and tracks your progress.

- Ken Hyland

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Michael Freeman

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