My husband and I are both fairly heavy technology users (something I am actively struggling with, as you all know). We have smartphones, tablets, and computers, and we love thinking about and discussing the ways in which technology can make our lives better, and worse. Josh is aware of my interest in mindfulness, and he has asked me on more than one occasion what I would put into a mindful parenting app.
The truth is, I have no idea. Ok, actually, I have a lot of ideas, but I don’t think the technology is there yet. I would like an app that will cook dinner each night, potty train my toddler, remind my preschooler to turn on the water before she covers her hands with soap, and sense when I am about to lose it and remind me in a reasonably non-annoying voice to stop and take a deep breath (or twelve).
The reality is that there is no shortage of apps related to meditation, mindfulness, and happiness. Seeing as how I have been feeling stuck lately, my gut reaction is to download every single one in hopes of finding one that will help me navigate the tricky world of parenting in a mindful way. I love the idea that I could tap on a tiny square and all of a sudden the answers I need to all of my parenting questions will suddenly appear on my tiny screen. Should I put my insolent toddler in time out? Tap here! Should I buy my 4 year old the new Fancy Nancy book she has been obsessing over? Tap here!
Sigh. If only.
But I know that’s just a fantasy, and the reality of how technology impacts parenting is far more complex. The truth is that I’m not sure if I want to use an app for mindfulness. If the whole point is to be present and engaged in the present moment, how useful will it be to turn my attention to my cell phone?
The mindfulness apps I’m talking about seem to work in a couple of different ways; some of them include recordings of guided meditations as well as articles and information about meditation and mindfulness. I don’t have a lot of trouble with these, as guided meditations can be incredibly useful. Others alert you at various times throughout the day to check in with yourself or do a brief meditation, and those are the ones I’m struggling with. I’m already far too likely to pick up my smartphone in a quiet moment; the last thing I need is my phone calling me back when I’m not actually using it.
Mindful.org recently published a review of some of their favorite apps here. For now, I’m sticking with a few MP3s that have come with some of my favorite mindfulness meditation books (including Sharon Salzberg’s Real Happiness and Ronald Siegel’s The Mindfulness Solution). Have you found a mindfulness app that is useful for you? Are there ways in which it interacts with your parenting? Are there apps that you wish existed? I would love to hear about your experiences.