I didn’t buy a smartwatch because I thought it might make parenting easier—I bought it because it was cute and shiny and I like new toys. (I owned a Casio calculator watch long before they were popular. Oh, wait: They were never popular.)
It’s been fun to fiddle with—I can change the watch face and check the weather and I no longer have to get off the couch just to look up the date. What’s surprised me the most, though, are the ways in which this little device is helping me be more present and less stressed with my kids. Here’s how it can be used for good. (Note: I have an Apple Watch, but these features are available on most smartwatches.)
It can give you space from your phone
When my older daughter was six years old, she had an asthma attack at school and they called 911. I missed the school’s call because my phone was in the other room. Although my daughter was fine, the subsequent fear of missing another important call kept me constantly tethered to my phone. The closer I kept my phone, however, the more I tapped and scrolled; the more I tapped and scrolled, the harder it became for me to focus or relax, whether or not my kids were around. Now that I have my watch, I don’t worry about missing something important, and I can leave my phone in another room—which is really the only way to mentally disconnect from it. I can limit the distractions even more by remotely enabling the Do Not Disturb setting. That way, only phone calls from numbers on my Favorites list (my parents, my in-laws, my sister, and the girls’ school or summer camp) will buzz my wrist. No other calls, texts, or notifications get through.
It can time your tasks
It’s easy to set a timer, and I love a good timer. I set timers to remind me to take the nuggets out of the oven and switch the laundry from the washer to the dryer. I set them whenever my girls are fighting over a toy or a turn on the swing. (And yes, you can set a timer on your phone, but remember, the goal here is to stay away from that damn thing.)