By Tracey Dowdy
I recently read an article on Psychology Today that stressed the importance of bonding with our children and the impact that bond has on all future relationships, both romantic and platonic. I don’t think that comes as a surprise to any parent or caregiver.
Beginning in infancy, nurturing that relationship is critically important. As our children get older and our lives get more complex, it may become more of a challenge to find ways to bond with your children as schedules get busier and common ground can be harder to find. Laying a foundation while they’re young will make it much easier to stay connected once those often challenging teen years hit.
These apps can help you connect with your kids during those critical early years.
Start bonding before you even see your child face to face. Bellabeat allows you to listen to your unborn baby’s heartbeat and then share it with others. The app is a “motherhood connected community” but the unique features make it easy to share the experience with your partner. Use the calendar to track milestones, weight gain, and new developments. There’s even a fun “kick counter”.
Cost: the device retails for $129 but the app is free.
Platform: iOS, Android
Some of my most precious memories of connecting with my daughters are when we would get lost in a story together. We read together every night before bed when they were little and reading is still how we each fall asleep most nights. MeeGenius is a vast library of over 800 books your child can read aloud with you. Enjoy classics from Dr. Seuss and Sesame Street, as well as books specially created for the app. You and your child can read along with the storyteller online, offline or on-the-go. There’s a new free book every day and five free books to begin.
Cost: the app is free but the monthly subscription is $4.99
Platform: iOS, Android, Windows
Kindoma is another reading app but it is designed to help kids read with a partner remotely. It’s ideal for parents who have been deployed, travel a lot, or even grandparents in another city. Both users must download the app and have an account, but once created, it’s easy to use. One individual calls the other from within the app and both can see the book and each other as well as point to things on the page, turn pages and otherwise interact.
Cost: the app is free and comes with a small selection of classics; additional books are available as in-app purchases.
Knoala invites you to “bond with your child over games and crafts that foster motor, cognitive, sensory, social, emotional, and self-care skills.” With thousands of activities created by physical and occupational therapists, age appropriate activities are specifically curated to develop emotional, sensory and language skills designed to bring you and your child together. Dance, sing, go on a treasure hunt, but most of all, have fun connecting with your kids.
Family Fitness Apps
Staying active together can be a great way to bond. If you’re runners, Zombies, Run! ($4: iOS, Android Windows) is a great app that combines running with self-preservation, which I have always found to be a great motivator! If your family is looking to be a little more Zen-like, an app like Pocket Yoga ($3; iOS, Android, Windows) can help even beginners of all ages learn basic yoga poses and improve fitness levels. If you’re more the dancing kind of family, Zumba Dance! ($5: iOS, Android, Windows) lets you try a variety of styles including Bollywood, hip hop, and salsa. The app’s motion tracker helps you perfect those killer moves, so you can break them out at the next family wedding and really bond with your kids!
The common thread in all these apps is simple – spending time together. Even more valuable than a list of suggestions is an actual conversation. Sit down with your kids to find out what their interests are and, whether it’s fire trucks or fireflies, find a way to connect. The possibilities are endless.
Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Toronto, ON. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances and researches on subjects from family and education to pop culture and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.