I Need a Timeout App

In some ways, I embrace technology whole-heartedly. I love my Macbook Pro, for instance, and have plunged into blogging and social networking like a Polar Bear Club Member dives into frigid, January waters.

In other respects, though, I’m a complete luddite. DVR what? On Demand how? Electronic book reader uh uh!

So I was surprised how excited I got when my husband ordered me a smart phone a couple weeks ago, spelling the end of my crappy pay-as-you-go. This sleek little device is like a remote for my life. And I’ve been trying to figure out how I can use it to make parenting easier.

There’s the music, of course. Kid-friendly songs are loaded and ready to go. Also, narrated stories are great for when your voice is gravelly with exhaustion and you’ve run out of ideas to entertain your children. Games help. And apparently you can even stream movies.

But what I have in mind is something more like a Stop-the-Fighting app. A Get-Back-in-Bed-and-Close-your-Eyes Utility. Icons I can touch to convince Milo and Belle to load their backpacks and get in the car for school. Surely if app developers can turn a candy-bar-sized unit of plastic and metal into a video camera, phone, flashlight, alarm clock, barcode scanner, and TV, they can get my kids to do their homework.

At the very least, I think I might record myself saying, “Come back to the table and finish your dinner!” accompanied by a photo of me looking placid and loving that I can hold in front of my weary face every night at 6 p.m.

Another thing I’ve considered, since I have no family in Seattle, is Skyping with my parents in Michigan and having them “babysit” while I go take a bath or paint my toenails. It would work, right? The kids carry the phone around and if they do something they’re not supposed to, like, say, snacking on marshmallows and chocolate, my mom and dad ignite the “blowhorn app” (there has to be one).

Or, oh, how about a timeout app? Wherein your child sits on a stool for five minutes (measured by an installed stopwatch) staring at a boring onscreen stock tracker or thesaurus. An eye scanner makes sure their line of vision doesn’t deviate from the snooze-worthy content and if it does, the stopwatch starts again at the beginning.

Seriously. I love technology more and more all the time.


About Angie

Angie (latte constantly in hand) raises her son, "Milo" (b. 2003), and her daughter, "Belle" (b. 2006), in Seattle with her lawyer husband. She is a writer, blogger and graphic designer who is egregiously tall and loves cookies with beer. She alternately struggles with existential angst and the fit of her jeans. Though she wearies easily of answering her son's constant questions and of negotiating with her daughter, she loves being present during their wonder years. One of her biggest parenting challenges is navigating Milo's severe food allergies. If she's not baking 50 cupcakes from scratch, she is reading ingredient labels and tutoring Milo, ad nauseum, to say, "No milk, eggs, tree nuts or peanuts please." Angie can also be found at:

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