Sending the kid off to school is something new in our household. My son is only 3 1/2 but has attended pre-school for about half a year now. He’ll be starting back up after summer and if I’ve learned anything from the last 6 months, it’s that it can be difficult to stay in touch with your family when school is involved. Like any household, you have two busy parents trying to juggle adult responsibilities with the added headache of a rambunctious child who needs to get to school and back safely. It goes without saying that our family time and communication skills take a hit during this time, but thankfully, there are some digital tools to help mitigate this lack of communication. With the help of Life of Dad and Straight Talk Wireless, I’m going to walk through how cell phones help to keep our family connected when real life responsibilities get in the way.
On any given day, I’m up and out of the house for work by 7:00am. Nine times out of ten, my family is still sleeping and I don’t get to see them before work. My work day will usually keep me at the office until around 4-5pm. My wife works part time and her hours range from late morning to sometime in the evening. Right now my son is on summer vacation from pre-school but when he does return, he’ll go for a couple days a week during the time my wife works. On days my wife works, I may not see my family until close to 8-9pm. With all of this distance in between us, we need a way to stay connected, even though we may be miles apart. That’s where our cell phones come in. Sure, we can pick up the phone and talk to each other, but voice isn’t the only way to stay connected throughout the day. If you have a similar family dynamic where you’re away from your family for prolonged periods of time, the following apps may be of use to you.
Stock Text Message App
Text messages are key for my family. Oftentimes we don’t have the time to pick up a phone and have a full on conversation, but with text messages, you can relay the same info in a fraction of the time. Text messages also allow you to continue doing whatever it is you’re doing at work while also having a conversation with your family member. This works for a lot of people, and it does for members of my family, but what my wife and I truly use the most is…
Facebook Messenger has been a godsend in our family. My wife and I already spend a ton of time on Facebook sharing pictures of our kid, but when we’re apart we use the Messenger app to talk to each other. Sending pictures and funny gifs throughout the day allow us to be together without actually physically being together and it helps us bridge the distance our busy jobs cause. Messenger is free, but you will need a Facebook account. If you don’t have one nor want one, your stock text messaging app will do just fine.
Image apps are a fun way to stay connected with your family if one family member is stuck at work while the other has the kid. My wife works part time and on the days she has off, she occasionally takes my son to fun places like the zoo or fun events like a super hero themed train ride (bonus picture I was sent from that event on the side.) Being at work away from your family can be soul crushing at times. You want nothing more than to be in the moment with your family when your child is experiencing fun life events. But life and responsibilities occasionally get in the way and seeing the events while they are ongoing helps alleviate the pain of missing out on some things. Thankfully, we have the weekend for everything else.
List/Grocery Store apps
If there is one request I get from my wife more than any other it’s, “Can you stop by the store to pick up dinner on your way home?” Let’s be honest though, dinner isn’t the only thing you’re getting. For these requests, list apps are the best. You can create a list and multiple people can update them at the same time and all devices will see the changes. When the kid has to be at school first thing in the morning and you can’t stop at the store, tossing a bunch of items on a list and sending to your spouse is sometimes the only way groceries are going to get purchased. There are a number of list apps out there that do this function fine, but my preferred include Evernote, Wunderlist, or OneNote.
Family Calendar Apps
A digital family calendar is the modern day kitchen calendar for working adults with kids who are going back to school. It’s hard enough to keep track of what I’m doing this afternoon, but throw in my wife and son…forget about it! By using a family calendar app like Google Calendar, each member of the household can add their events and it’ll show up on others calendars as well. This is key when determining who has a doctor appointment on what day or when one person will be home late from work and needs help picking up the kid. Cozi is also a nice alternative to Google Calendar if that doesn’t work out for you.
Family Tracking Apps
Sometimes it helps to know where your loved ones are. Using apps like Apple’s built in Find My Friends or Life360, you can use their phones GPS systems to keep an eye on where they are. This is especially useful for those times when you’re meeting your family somewhere and want to make sure they find the correct restaurant. Each person has to give approval for the tracking, but I would imagine this would be especially useful if you have teens in your life (thankfully I’m still about a decade away from that.)
These are just a small sampling of the many apps that you may find useful for your family to stay connected. But remember, an app when you’re away from your WiFi is only as good as the network you’re currently on. Most networks out there will charge you an arm and a leg for cell phone plans all the while throwing extra fees on top when you inevitably go over your data. That’s where Straight Talk Wireless is different. Straight Talk Wireless is the leading no-contract wireless provider, offering customers the best phones on the best networks for less than those other guys. Did you know with Straight Talk Wireless you can get a plan with no contracts, no credit checks and no mystery fees, with unlimited plans at $45 and $55. You can also choose from the latest phones on the best networks, all for less – including the Samsung Galaxy S8.
Straight Talk Wireless is working to help busy parents with their busy schedules by offering comparable plans to the big guys in the market for a lot less. Just in time for back-to-school, Straight Talk Wireless has added more high speed data to its phone plans for the same low price with all of the latest and greatest smartphones. You can get unlimited talk, text and the first 8GB of high-speed data then 2G* for $45. If that’s not enough data, bump it up to 12GB of high speed data then 2G* for just $55. Your family will stay connected all school year long without breaking the bank with an expensive phone plan from someone else. Straight Talk phone and services are available exclusively at Walmart stores or online at StraightTalk.com. For more info on how you and your family can stay connected without spending a ton on a phone plan, visit StraightTalk.com today.
*At 2G speeds, the functionality of some data applications, such as streaming audio or video may be affected. Please refer always to the latest Terms and Conditions of Service at StraightTalk.com.