7 ways having an Alexa smart home makes parenting easier

…and three ways it could make it even better

7 ways smart homes make parenting easier
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Everything you’ve heard about having a child is true.

Yes, you’re about to be tired forever.

Yes, changing diapers is a gross and constant thing.

Basically, everything is going to get a whole lot more difficult for a long time. Wonderful, magical, amazing, but… difficult.

I learned this quickly when our son Calvin stumbled into my world two years ago. Thankfully, a few months into parenthood my wife and I decided to fully embrace the smart home with a handful of Echo Dots, an Echo Show, half a dozen Philips Hue smart lights, a few smart plugs, and assorted other gizmos and gadgets that have made a huge difference.

Here are a handful of ways that being able to yell “Alexa!” makes parenting easier, followed by some ways it could help even more.

You can keep lists of… everything

It started with groceries. “Alexa, add baby soap to my Shopping List.” Then we added the paediatrician to the mix. “Alexa, add ‘Ask about that bump on his arm’ to my ‘Doctor Questions’ list.” Then it became a gift list. “Alexa, add wooden blocks to Calvin’s birthday list.”

The list list goes on and on.

Before I had a kid, forgetting things like this didn’t feel like a huge deal. Forget to ask the doctor something? Just do it next time. Didn’t get soap at the store? I’ll survive another day. Mix in a baby and suddenly everything is more vital, and there’s a lot more stuff to keep track of.

It makes buying things much quicker

“We’re never going to use the shopping stuff on this thing, are we?” I asked my wife as I set up our first Echo Dot. Flash forward a few months and “Alexa, order diapers” becomes the go-to response to “did you remember to pick up diapers on the way home?”

It’s not just diapers, either. Babies require a whole slew of supplies you’ll constantly run out of for one of three reasons.

They’re disposable: diapers, wipes, bags to put diapers in, bags for your special trash can that you put diapers in.

They’re consumable: baby food, snacks, and these things called “Little Crunchies” that I swear are better than a lot of adult food, don’t judge me.

You’re just going to lose them: burp cloths, socks, whatever toy your child decides is their “comfort item.”

You're going to lose track of all of those things, so just asking your AI assistant to order more of them for you is really, really helpful.

Seven ways having an Alexa smart home makes parenting easier

It’ll answer questions when your hands are (literally) full

Hands full of what, you ask? Take your pick. Toys. Cups. Food. Literally a child. I swear, I put on at least five pounds of muscle mass in my arms alone from the amount of stuff I’m suddenly being tasked with schlepping around. Being able to ask questions like “What’s the weather?” or “Alexa, what day of the week is it again?” from any room and getting a response other than a baby laughing is a big deal.

Sure, it’s useful to do all of that without a child, but that’s the difference between convenience and necessity: when you're being lazy, it's a "nice to have" – when you're holding 20 pounds of wiggling child, it's crucial.

You can play songs to make your child happy

For us, it was ‘Apache’ by the Sugarhill Gang. Why? No idea, it's just his jam. Whenever we turned it on, Calvin would start dancing like the living room was his own personal baby night club. It went from tears to "oh my gosh hold my milk this is my jam you guys."

Kids really do like music, and it’s fun to constantly try and find the magical song that will shift their attitude. Can you use your phone instead? Sure, but then the kid's going to want your phone, and you're not going to want to give them your phone, annnnnnnnd there's the tantrum.

It lets you watch your baby 24/7

Walk into the baby monitor section of Babies ‘R’ Us Target and you’ll find dozens of options, each sporting a variety of features (“Ooh! This one can sing!”) and a variety of surprisingly high prices. And while they might all be different, they tend to share one thing in common: most have stand-alone screens you use to peek on your baby.

Meanwhile, thanks to my smart home, I just need to say “Alexa, show me Calvin’s Room” and suddenly I’m spying on my own kid from either my Echo Show or my Fire TV. More and more cameras are adding support for smart homes, too, so it’s becoming easier than ever to keep tabs on your child without having to drop what you’re doing.

This also earns double points for when you get around to bringing a babysitter in. Just the knowledge that I could drop in and ask how things are, or stealthily peek in on the baby monitor helps put my mind at ease.

Seven ways having an Alexa smart home makes parenting easier

Video chats with family are super easy

Speaking of cameras, the single best thing the Echo Show did for my family is lower the difficulty of video chat. I’m on the opposite coast from most of my family, and it was hard after Calvin was born for many of them. My mom took it the hardest, lamenting that she’d really only see her grandson a few times a year. Would he even remember her? It’s sad, right?

That was before we outfitted both of our homes with an Echo Show. Now, we video chat with them so much that Calvin recognises all of his grandparents and talks to them a few times a week. Heck, I’m starting to suspect that my mom will get tired of the constant calls from someone who can’t talk.

It helps with nighttime routines

If you want to get to the point where you’re able to rest for more than an hour at a time each night, you’re going to want to “sleep train” your kid. Yes, seriously – I thought that babies would eventually just learn how awesome sleep is, but you actually need to go through some steps to really make it work. Our nighttime ritual involves dinner, a warm bath, a book, some cuddles, and then a trip to snoozeville. But early on we noticed an issue between steps “book” and “cuddles”: the lights.

While we wanted things bright for reading, we wanted them dim for cuddles – and even dimmer in case he needed to come back for middle-of-the-night cuddles if he had a bad dream. Being able to mumble “Alexa, turn the lights to 40%” without getting up helped make the ritual easier for everyone to adjust to, earning us all some well-deserved sleep.

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