Phone run out of juice? Forget to set the timer on your coffee pot? Attempting to actually cross stuff off your to-do list? All in a day’s work for a modern family. Take charge and calm the crazy with our roundup of some of the most innovative and stylish gear and gadgets that’ll help fuel your parenting universe.
1. Just Charge It
Moms and dads alike will love these backpacks and messenger bags that serve double duty as both stylish carry-alls and convenient on-the-go chargers for mobile devices. In addition to each bag’s sporty good looks, a dedicated pocket hides a built-in lithium-ion battery that provides up to seven charges for various power-hungry mobile devices. Available in 21 styles that range from knapsack chic to executive mod, these totes are cool enough not to scream “diaper bag,” while durable enough to withstand hauling around the inevitable deluge of kiddie supplies.
Available at 1voicenyc.com, $159.
2. Flip the Switch
If you’ve ever had a panic attack on the way to work, wondering if you accidentally forgot to turn off an appliance at home, this handy product may help to alleviate your fears. Turn appliances and electronics on or off and monitor them from anywhere using the wi-fi enabled Belkin WeMo Insight Switch and the WeMo app on your smartphone or tablet. Now appliances such as A/C units, flat irons, lights, space heaters and more that are plugged into WeMo can be controlled remotely (WeMo also can be connected to your Amazon Echo!).
Available at belkin.com, $49.99, for Android and iOS devices.
3. The Button
Dubbed as “the simplest Internet user interface in the world,” Bttn allows users to program different functions for Internet-connected homes or workplaces. For example, Bttn can be programmed to send a text message to parents whenever their kids arrive home from school. Harnessing the power of various Internet technologies, such as IFTTT, OpenHome, SmartThings, Twitter, Facebook and SMS messaging, Bttn makes performing an Internet-enabled task as simple as pushing a button.
Available at btt.n/shop, $79.99.
4. Delightful Dot
Amazon ups the ante on being the operating system for your connected home with the recent introduction of Echo Dot, the diminutive companion to Amazon Echo. Echo Dot might be small, but it packs all of the voice-activated functionality of its larger predecessor into an adorable hockey-puck-sized package, which includes a surprisingly powerful built-in speaker. Use Echo’s Alexa Voice Service to play music, read the news, set alarms, control smart home devices or create shopping lists that feed directly into your Amazon account.
Pro Tip: If you have a child or family member whose name sounds like Alexa (like my daughter Aleksa), you can avoid confusion by changing Echo’s default voice prompt from “Alexa” to either “Echo” or “Amazon.”
Available at amazon.com, $89.99.
5. Clean Calls
Not-so-fun fact: each square inch of your mobile phone contains roughly 25,000 germs, making it one of the filthiest things you come in contact with on a daily basis. For parents whose kids invariably put their sticky paws all over our smartphones (then into their mouths, yuck!), mobile phone hygiene is an often-neglected chore. Phone Soap 2.0 comes to the rescue with an easy-to-use, efficient UV phone sanitizer that also acts as a charger while it cleans. For those of us with phablet-sized devices, Phone Soap XL is expected to ship in late June.
Available at phonesoap.com, $49.95.
6. Sunny Smiles
You will make a fashion statement with these solar powered watches that also support socially responsible causes. Made with recycled materials, Q&Q SmileSolar Watches are water resistant and require only sunlight to power them. Each watch can operate for more than three months on a full charge. With every SmileSolar Watch purchase, a portion of the proceeds are donated to Table for Two, an international nonprofit that helps to deliver healthy school meals to children in Africa and Asia.
Available at Q&Q Online Store, $40.
7. Chill Out
Forgot to chill that bottle of Sauv Blanc (or any other beverage) before you left for the day? No worries. By stashing this gadget in the freezer you’ll be activating the internal cooling coils, which means you’ll be able to pour yourself a chilled, freshly aerated glass anytime. Ahhh, the glory of modern technology!
Available at quirky.com, $34.99.
8. Rad Remote
With the proliferation of devices connected to your home entertainment system (i.e., digital set-top box, DVD player, Apple TV, Roku, etc.), chances are good that you’re juggling a panoply of remote controls just to watch TV. The Ray Touchscreen Super Remote hopes to end remote control clutter with its ultimate universal remote. With Ray, a simple tap seamlessly switches between any of your entertainment devices. The touchscreen interface is lovely and intuitive.
Available at ray.co, $249.
9. Put a Ring on It
This collection of smart, Internet-connected jewelry is as powerful as it is pretty. Fashionistas can program their Ringly accessories, rings, or bracelets (shipping this summer) to notify them via light and vibration when they receive important appointment alerts, e-mails, phone calls, texts, or social media updates—without having to look at their smartphones.
Available at ringly.com, $30 – $279.
10. May the Charge Be With You
Prepping for a family road trip often means calculating how long the family stash of mobile devices will konk out before invariably hearing, “Are we there yet?” If your objective is to keep all of your kids’ mobile devices charged while on the road, this is the droid you’ve been looking for. This little BB-8 unit fits neatly into a standard cupholder and plugs into your car’s 12-volt power adapter. Little Star Wars fanatics will be captivated by how the droid’s head rotates and makes sound and you’ll like the fact that the unit comes with two USB charging ports, compatible with most USB charging cables.
Available at thinkgeek.com, $39.99.
11. Tech Tracker
Tired of losing your keys, wallet, or phone? Misplacing important belongings becomes a thing of the past with TrackR Bravo. This coin-sized tab attaches to any possession and the TrackR smartphone app lets you quickly recover your lost or stolen item via GPS tracking. You can even set a two-way separation alert that notifies you before you’ve left an item behind. Originally started as an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign, TrackR raised nearly $1.7 million in initial seed money.
Available at amazon.com, $29.99.
12. Cool Cuffs
Let’s face it: most dads have been gifted their fair share of neckties and socks, when what they really want is more tech gadgets. For dapper dads who need to carry around at least 16GB of flash storage at all times (and who doesn’t need that?), these sleek and practical silver cufflinks feature 8GB USB flash drives discretely hidden in each link, perfect for carrying important business documents or equally important family pics.
Available at uncommongoods.com, $100.
13. Cuppa Joe on the Go
Your quick-pour coffee might only take five minutes, but it’s five precious minutes that you could use to rematch your toddler’s socks or looking for missing keys. Switch up your routine with this self-brewing coffee cup that lets you take your cup of joe on the go.
Available at heyjoecoffee.com, $99.
What’s your favorite sanity-saving gadget? Tell us in the comments below!
—Christal Yuen & Kipp Jarecke-Cheng