October 5, 2015

Techno Age

I want to first take a moment to address my last post... I hope it didn't come off as too rant-y. It really wasn't meant to be. And it definitely wasn't directed at anyone. It is a phenomenon that I've mostly observed and wanted to touch on, as well as offer words of encouragement!!

I have not been sleeping well the past few days (hello, teething!?), and I really should be napping instead of blogging, so please bear with me!

Today, I wanted to address technology. Throughout pregnancy and parenting so far we've really had a lot of fun with all that the latest technology has to offer. 

There are so many useful apps and devices out there and I'd love to share a few. 

During pregnancy, I used BabyBump. This is one of the apps that compares your growing fetus size to fruits and vegetables and let's you know what's going on in there. It's fun to know what your baby looks like along the way.

When I thought I was going into labor and having contractions I used ContractionTimer. Pretty straight forward.

Once Hazel was born we used Baby Daybook to track diapers and feedings (which was easier to do than remembering to log it on the sheet of paper the hospital provides). I love this app. We used it for the first few weeks pretty religiously. It synced between both my phone and Tyler's so it didn't matter who changed her or pressed start or stop to log a nursing session. I liked it while we were still figuring out nursing because I knew exactly how long she had nursed on each side. It was also nice that Tyler could get a peek at our day when he was at work (I'm not sure if he actually did that much, but it was nice to have the option). This app has the ability to track so much more than what we used it for. You can track pumping sessions, naps, tummy time, baths, walks, etc. I still have it downloaded because now when Hazel is sick I use it to log her temperature and medication. I was so happy I did this when I took her to the doctor and they asked for a pretty specific fever history. No way would I have been able to answer accurately without this log!

Another one we use now is Tinybeans. It is a fun way for us to share pictures and track milestones. Family can get access to our account to see what we enter too. I like that it is in a calendar format so you can really keep track of when certain things happened! There's an option too, to buy a photobook that they automatically create from all that you've uploaded. When I peeked at this, it seemed a little pricey, but still pretty cool especially if you aren't crafty or just plain have no time to put something together. 

An informational app we refer to is Wonder Weeks. It let's us know about typical developmental milestones and helps us get a sense for when Hazel might be going through a "leap" based upon her due date. It predicts time periods that she may be crankier than others because of these leaps, and it's reassuring to know that a fussy phase is probably just because of "such and such" development and isn't just her new personality! It gives suggestions for helping her through her leaps and for fostering the new things that she's learning.

We also use white noise apps for nap time when needed. I use Lightning Bug and Tyler uses another one that sounds like a train track. For some reason I was against using white noise at first (who knows why?) but now I love it because I think it helps her go to sleep easier and stay asleep longer. Win, win! We don't use it all the time, but when it's needed, it's really helpful! -- This also helps with my goal of being on my phone less (see below) because when she's napping, my phone is in with her serving a more important purpose.

Our neatest gadget that we got, is probably our Dropcam. It's a wifi enabled camera that let's us see what's going on from a phone or computer from afar. Before Hazel was born we set it up to watch Norbert during the day. We caught some naughty footage of his eating a bag of Brillo pads (looking around to make sure no one was watching) and also getting food off the kitchen counters. It has a microphone as well, so if we caught him in the act we could tell him "No!" You can watch live, or it stores a little bit of footage so you can rewind a little bit to see something. I love that we have the ability to save footage off of it too. If Hazel takes her first steps in the nursery while the camera is on, we can still be in the moment with her instead of reaching for a recording device because we'll have the ability to save the footage from the camera. When Tyler is away, I'll sometimes let him know if we're hanging out in there or if Hazel did something really cute, so he can take a look. He can even talk to us through it. It even has night vision so when Hazel eventually starts sleeping in her own room we'll be able to check on her without disturbing her.

While all of this is really cool and helpful, it has become apparent already to me how difficult it is going to be to navigate the technology world with our baby. We haven't introduced Hazel to any baby screen time yet, other than the overflow of what we are doing, like watching a show while we nurse or play or just using our phones. It was amazing to me when these screens switched from being something in the background that she never noticed, and turned into a beautiful, interesting thing to stare at. It makes me much more aware of what we are doing and the amount of exposure she gets. She is already drawn to my phone like a bug to light. She knows it's something special and she really wants to eat it. I was actually prompted to write this post when she started crying after I turned the screen of my phone off while she was looking at it. I am amazed how well she automatically smiles at it when I whip it out for photos (which I do constantly). 

I try not to use it too much in front of her, but I still do way too much. Screen time is addicting, and I would really like to set good examples for her because she is obviously learning these things ALREADY. It is very hard though. Especially when I am constantly trying to share pictures with our family who isn't around. It's easy to go from taking a picture, to texting it out, to posting it on Instagram or Facebook, and next thing I know I'm mindlessly scrolling. 

Tyler and I both downloaded an app call Quality Time that tracks how much we use our phones, and it is astonishing and rather depressing. This same app has the ability to lock you out of certain apps at set times. so we've both implemented family time periods. Isn't that sad? Even with this knowledge that I am on it too much, I still do it... it's so easy to be sucked in. We have to have our phones block us instead of our natural self control. Looking at the screen is just like quicksand.

I urge you to give this app (or one like it) a try! See how much you are looking at your phone everyday. For many it will be a huge wake-up call. I used to think I wasn't too addicted because I frequently leave my phone at home when we are out doing things as a family, but this app has showed me that when it's with me, it's an issue.

I know technology is going to play a huge part in Hazel's life and I want her to be able to use it well, but I'm not ready to formally introduce it to her yet. I am astounded at how intuitive small children are with devices. I want her to be able to tap into that because I think it will he helpful to her long term, but I am concerned about it's effects on outdoor and imaginative play. My strategy at the moment is to delay sitting her in front of a screen as long as possible, and try not to have too much of our screen time overflow into her time. If I need additional entertainment while I'm home alone with her, I'd like to try podcasts or other audio recreation. I figure even with these efforts she will STILL have enough involvement with screens and devices she'll know exactly how to use them before we ever try to teach her.

This is something I would actually love some advice and discussion on. Parents of small children what is your stance on screens and your kids? How do you manage? Please share in the comments below!

To my amazement, I've written this whole post without Hazel waking up... I totally should have taken a nap.


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