These apps would solve problems of parenthood

lpemberton@theolympian.comFebruary 16, 2014 

I grew up watching “The Jetsons,” playing video games in an arcade, and hearing about a young business man’s dream that one day every family would own their own computer.

Now, we have multiple computers in our house, and I can play video games anytime on my phone or TV.

That’s probably why I’m a little surprised that robotic maids aren’t as common as microwaves and GPS units.

Can you believe how different life would be if robotic maid technology were available?

We’d never have to worry about laundry, dishes or meals. Think of all of the time it would free up for other important stuff that we squeeze in during the weekend such as sleeping in, playing video games and enjoying family movie nights. I’d actually have time to watch “The Jetsons” or other vintage television series.

Plus, I’m fairly certain that I’d try baking homemade bread and other goodies knowing that our robotic housekeeper was going to clean up the mess.

Here are some other ideas for helpful inventions:

A tooth fairy app: Let’s face it — the tooth fairy is super busy these days.

Thanks to advances in dentistry and the increase in world population, she has a lot more territory to cover. She’s overworked, exhausted and probably has a family of her own to take care of, so get off of her back already. (Sorry, I digress.)

Still, there’s nothing more terrifying than waking up to a child crying “Mama, Daddy — the tooth fairy didn’t come! She didn’t take my tooth or leave money!”

Fortunately, the handful of times that has happened at our house, it turns out she left the money inside a pillow case or some other random place that the child didn’t look. What a silly pixie! Sometimes she plays tricks. (And she must have gotten my message to leave a few teeth so I can put them in their scrapbooks.)

Anyway, with a tooth fairy app, perhaps the tooth fairy could automatically deposit that money into the child’s savings account when, say, mom and dad are awake enough to function and enter bank account information? Perhaps a tooth fairy app could transfer money into an account for online music or games? I think the tooth fairy would appreciate using some technology to make her job easier.

Healthful, inexpensive, easy-to-make food that’s appealing to kids: If I can’t have a robot maid, I vote for something that takes the stress and work out of dinnertime.

I’d give props to a famous macaroni and cheese maker that has come out with a line of healthy pasta that includes cauliflower flour. But my youngest son refuses to eat it because he says it smells weird.

If only there were ways to sneak vegetables into other popular kid cuisine, such as chicken nuggets, frozen pizza, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

Also, here’s a marketing idea for vegetable-fruit juice makers: Stop putting pictures of vegetables on products that are mixed with fruit juice. If our kids won’t eat celery in real life, why would they knowingly drink its juice when mixed with something else?

A Pinterest-like site for the rest of us: I love looking at all of the cool ideas on Pinterest, but sometimes they make me feel so inferior.

Can’t birthday parties stop at cake and ice cream? Must we feel pressured to include themed snacks, intricate decorations and a homemade piñata?

I want a website that celebrates the average person’s attempt at something domestic, a place where you can post a photo and say, “Well, I tried” and your friends can commiserate, cheer you up and give you a virtual “participant” ribbon for parenthood.

I’m envisioning a website where you can feel safe to post photos of the crooked patches on your son’s Cub Scout uniform, cupcakes that broke in half when you tried to take them out of the pan so you patched them up with extra frosting, and three-legged carrots and other mutated vegetables that grew in your container garden.

A 24-hour crowd-sourcing site for parents who need instant, anonymous feedback on hot-button topics such as “Is my 9-year-old really the last kid in the world without a smartphone?” Or “I need a teacher appreciation day gift asap and the only thing that’s open is a 24-hour convenience store. Ideas?” and “What does 1D mean, and how can I use that in a sentence to impress my teenager?”

A program that won’t let kids turn on their electronics until homework and chores are finished: Come to think of it, I could probably use a similar program to help encourage me to finish housework and exercise.

A translator app to help communicate with teenagers, so when you say, “This paperwork is important, and you need to turn it in to the office,” they won’t hear, “Here’s a piece of paper. Why don’t you fold it up and leave it in your PE locker for a few days?”

An app that will help those of us who waited to have children until we were well-established in our careers to look just as young, skinny and perfect as the moms who obviously gave birth when they were teenagers: I think a few of the moms on my youngest son’s T-ball team last year were still teenagers.

You know, the ones who say, “Hey, I think I saw your picture in my mom’s yearbook – but you were a senior when she was a freshman,” and, “Don’t worry, you totally don’t look that old,” and, “Wait. ‘The Jetsons’ were on when you were a kid?”

Staff writer Lisa Pemberton is one busy mama with three children. She can be reached at 360-754-5433 or lpemberton@theolympian.com.

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