Stress Awareness Day is here, and it’s tempting to simply list the frankly shocking figures that have been shared by a variety of outlets in previous months to show just how much parents are really under the pump.
👉🏽 Did you know that 32% of parents in England are finding it difficult to access professional support for themselves as their children, with 21% of them left feeling desperate, as reported by Unicef?
👉🏽 How about the fact that 75% of moms say they don’t have enough support in the form of a village and 35% struggle with moderate to severe levels of anxiety, as noted recently by What to Expect?
👉🏽 Is it surprising that 45% of dads surveyed by Pregnant Then Screwed said they experienced a new mental health issue within the first two years of their child’s life?
This is just a small excerpt of what parents are coping with (or trying to…) so it’s no surprise that tools and technology to try and assist parents during those early days, weeks, months and years continue appearing on the market.
Baby trackers and digital parenting apps are very much one of the fastest rising tools which parents are turning to due to their ease of access, general affordability, and promise of making everything easier.
But how do you know which one to choose?
And how do you make sure it’s reducing, not adding to, your stress levels?
PRIORITISE YOUR NEEDS
Ultimately you need to ask yourself what do you need an app for? Is it for:
tracking certain activities such as feeding and sleeping for peace of mind;
patterns and analysis so you can more easily communicate with healthcare visitors and paediatricians;
ensuring your little one is sticking to their routine while under the care of a family member or professional caregiver;
an extended period of time or do you simply need that extra support for the early stages?
This varies from family to family, and can change at a moment’s notice too, but by having this list in your mind you’ll find the next stage much easier…
RESEARCH + REVIEWS
Once you know what you’re looking for, try out some specific searches to find the apps which match your needs and which properly highlight the features you’re most actively seeking.
When you’ve got your shortlist, take time to look through the reviews - are they positive from a range of family types? Do any of them talk about particular features they have found particularly useful? Do they speak to particular periods, such as directly after birth or on the return to work, during which they found the app most useful?
TEST THE BEST!
One of our top tips? You don’t have to wait until you’ve had your baby to download an app! By downloading your top shortlist before birth, you’ll have the opportunity to test the different tools and build familiarity with your favourite so it can already be second nature by the time you’re ready to start tracking.
And what’s more, this is your chance to download and then delete the apps you don’t find useful or might not be right for your family so you’re not becoming bombarded with notifications or reminders to add activity while you’re trying to find your new routines as a family.
Did you know that an average smartphone has 80 apps installed on it, but the average person only uses 9 of those per day (and 30 per month)? Adding to this with numerous apps that aren’t actually what you need is sure to add to those stress levels.
MANAGE YOUR SETTINGS
The power of parenting tools such as baby trackers is in how much they are built for you and your family, so take the time to embrace and use any customisation options you might have available - like custom logs, dark mode, and adding additional caregivers (yes these are some of ours!).
By making sure your app is set up how you want and that you have what you need available at the touch of a button, like easy to access breastfeeding timers when you have one arm trapped under the baby, you’re more likely to actively enjoy using it and find it becomes a help rather than a hindrance.
TAKE A BREAK
Now, we’re sure many app creators would love to see you using your tools daily, but it’s essential to remember to take a break whenever you need to. If you’re finding yourself losing sleep over missing logs or feeling your anxiety levels creeping up just thinking about opening your app, take a step back and remind yourself why you downloaded it in the first place.
Perhaps you have reached a stage where you no longer have to track certain activities, such as diapers or breastfeeding, or have pinned down your daily routine and only need to check in once a week to adjust your calendar so everyone taking care of your little one that week knows what’s happening…and that’s absolutely fine!
Whatever your reason, our tools should grow and adjust with us and our families - and much like our little one’s clothing, we can soon grow out of them!
So whether you’re a new parent, expecting your second or third, or looking for a tool to support your child’s development further into your journey, remember to prioritise; research; test; customise; and listen to your own needs.