By Elizabeth Lyons
Whether parents need help organizing their schedules, categorizing their digital media collections or tracking their diets, someone's created an iPhone App to help. But when all that organizing, categorizing and tracking is finished, many parents need to de-stress with a bit of inspiration, relaxation, or simply an opportunity to laugh or be distracted for a moment or two.
To that end, based on responses gathered from several Twitter and Facebook communities, we are pleased to alert you to 10 Terrific Happy Apps for parents.
Do you find inspiration through helping others? If so, check out Catalista. This app makes finding volunteer opportunities simple by connecting users with local nonprofits who need help. It also tracks your hours and allows you to share what you're doing (and invite others to join you) via your social networks!
This app is as addictive as Tetris was back in the day (and still is for some!). Simply rubbing the onscreen Buddha's belly pulls up one of the app's 39,000 inspirational quotes. If the first one doesn't get you out of your funk, simply rub again! When you find the perfect one, you can pass it on to your friends via Twitter, Facebook or e-mail.
Developed by Signal Patterns' labs research team and Dr. Sonja Lyubormirsky, author of The How of Happiness, this app takes inspiration to the next level. Rather than merely providing an inspirational quote, this app integrates happiness-producing activities (such as having dinner with your family or contacting someone for whom you're grateful) into a user's schedule. It also saves completed actions and gratitude journal entries so that you can refer to them when you desire a reminder of how blessed you are.
This time-tested approach to acknowledging and visualizing one's dreams can now be completed electronically and taken with you everywhere! Allowing you access to inspirational quotes, photos that represent your ideal lifestyle, and different vision boards for each area of your life (family, work, children), this app provides constant access to reminders of what you're working toward, so that you can consciously take daily steps in that direction.
Binaural Beats helps users relax, concentrate or snooze by causing the brain to perceive brainwave patterns associated with each of those states. Soothing sounds from nature combine with these beats to block noise and distraction from the outside world. Users can even create their own themes to use for sleep induction, studying or headache relief.
Each time you enter your iZen Garden, you're greeted with a bit of wisdom to start your day. Relaxing music plays in the background while you customize your garden. Choose from more than 100 available objects including a bonsai tree, stones and leaves. You can then rake your garden, creating meditative circles in the sand. Finally, find a quiet corner, set the meditation timer and Om your troubles away.
With a shake of the iPhone, this app delivers famous quotes (including a few from the developer's in-house Ph.D. psychologist) based on the user's current state of mind. The quotes are arranged within four stress levels, ranging from Beautiful World to Never Give Up Hope. Users simply shake their iPhone to communicate an increased stress level, which prompts appropriate quotes to guide them to a calmer state.
Ridiculously addictive as it may be, popping bubble wrap continues to be a favorite zone-out pastime of parents and kids alike. The Bubble Wrap app provides the user with a field of bubbles which, when touched, pop. The timer keeps track of how many bubbles are popped in sixty seconds. The best news: it's as distracting for an unhappy child as it is for his parents!
When you need nothing more than a genuine belly laugh, MouthOff is the go-to app. Simply choose a character, and it creates an animated mouth that moves while you speak with your mouth behind the phone. A tried-and-true strategy: Use this app during challenging moments with kids. It's almost guaranteed to turn tantrums into peels of laughter in the blink of an eye, and has been known to keep a smile on many a parent's face while gently "encouraging" a child to climb down off the display!
Steppin is the app of choice for parents who crave simple distraction. Using your fingers, "step" from one platform to another as fast as you can. But beware; it's addictive. Once you tear yourself away, it may help to spend a few minutes in your iZen Garden.