3 self-care apps for parents

Unless you’re a zen master or have live-in, ’round the clock staff, you could probably use an assist for some self-care now and again. Thankfully, we live in 2018 and there’s definitely an app for that—or three. 

My Water Balance

Listen, none of us drinks enough water. Not a one. If you’d like to attempt a change during the dry months looming on the horizon, My Water Balance is a pretty great starting-off point. After inputting your stats and goals, a list of beverages appears and the options to add anything from water to wine gets added to your daily tally of liquids. Features include a water requirement calculator, both metric and fluid ounce measurements, motivational awards and tips n’ tricks galore. Cute factor: As you head towards your goal, the water level sloshes up on the app’s home screen with that’s day’s progress. 

The Verdict: Very basic, but very helpful. At first, the notifications can seem a little in-your-face (“Don’t forget to drink water!”) but, then again, if I can’t remember to drink all of my ounces by my lonesome, perhaps a need a nagging parent’s voice in my ear— and on my screen. 

Available for iOS 9.0 or later, and compatible with iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch and Apple Watch. App is free. 

Upright Go

Can supporting your spine and perfecting your posture be as easy as sticking something on your back and glancing at a screen (which, frankly, you’re already doing anyhow)? Those are the basics behind Upright Go, a system comprised of a tracking app and a tiny (and easily removable) device stuck between your shoulder blades with a small strip of adhesive. In Training Mode, the device gently vibrates when the user slouches, and is set for short amounts of time. Tracking Mode is for daily use, with posture reports and an animated character mimicking your standing/sitting/walking habits in real time. Highly customizable, each day’s workout data is sent to the Health app (HealthKit) for further integration with lifestyle goals. 

The Verdict: Turns out, even when I think I’m utilizing good balance and posture, I’m actually still a literal slouch. The gentle vibrations help me remain mindful; at the end of the first day, my upper body felt slightly sore, like I had just had a good workout. This thing is geared to get fast results and to help turn daily practice into lifetime habits. 

Available for Android and iOS 9.0 or later, and compatible with iPhone, iPod Touch, and up to six family members are able to use this app with Family Sharing. App is free. Upright Go device costs $79.95. 

Calm

There are very few of us who wouldn’t benefit from a bit more mindfulness in our daily lives, but where to start? Well, hundreds of guided meditations and a seven-day free trial to a premium account never hurts. Apple’s app of the year in 2017, Calm is a fairly nifty way to get that “just had a great session with the ol’ therapist” feeling in your own home (or in the carpool line, on the commuter train, etc., etc). Whether you’re looking for a brief time-out to meditate, a way to transition into a new part of the day, or hoping for a good sleep assist, Calm is set up in a really user-friendly manner. 

The Verdict: Okay, they had me at the “Painting with Bob Ross” sleep story. And with short meditations and calming tales, I can grab a 10-minute pocket of zen whenever it works best. Anxiety and stress? They have separate sections for those, and the sleep meditations are an absolute gift for those nights when my brain won’t turn off for all of the lavender fields in Provence. (FYI, that story’s in there as well, expertly told by Stephen Fry— from whom I’d cheerfully hear cereal box narration.)

Available for iOS 9.0 or later, and compatible with iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, and Apple Watch. App is free with basic features. Premium is $59.99 per year after free 7-day trial. 

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