I read this top ten list of the apps that all parents wish they had this morning, and oh, it gave me a right good chuckle. (Which is no mean feat, given that we’re on our NINTH week of school summer holidays right now, but let's not go there...)
Still, I couldn't help but feel that they'd missed a few out - so here’s our very own top ten list of parenting apps which we reckon we could all do with…
1.One which predicts food fads
I kid you not; two days ago my kid claimed he'd eat breakfast without a fuss if only we had the 'right' breakfast foods in the house. Cue a frenzy of food shopping, and a kitchen cupboard stuffed full with pretty much every possible breakfast item you could imagine. Top of his list was bagels with banana and honey. Today he'd gone off honey, didn't fancy a banana, and couldn't chew a bagel cos of his wobbly tooth. See? If I could consult an app each morning to ascertain what foods my kids will and won't deign to eat that day, I could save myself SO much time and money.
2. An app to tell you what time your kid is going to wake up
Murphy's Law (or is it sod's law?!) dictates that your kid will be up with the lark at the weekend and on any day when you'd give your right arm for a lie-in and don't actually need to be up early, but come the first day back at school after the summer hols and you can practically guarantee that you'll have to drag them out of bed five minutes before the school run. So how about an app which can predict your child's sleeping habits, allowing you to adapt your own accordingly? Genius.
3. Mary Poppins app
You know that scene in Mary Poppins when she gets the kids tidying up the nursery whilst singing A Spoonful of Medicine? Let's just say it never looks like that in my house when I ask the kids to help tidy their rooms or pick up their toys. I want an app that does exactly what Mary does.
4. Tooth brushing lie detector
Please don't tell me this only happens in my house, but I have a strong suspicion that my children's teeth aren't always brushed when they say they are. So forget those cute apps that help encourage little ones to brush their teeth; I just want one that will determine the exact level of plaque on the teeth of my little darlings so that I can catch them out when they're trying to skip the whole oral hygiene thing.
5. An app that automatically switches screens off when brain-rot is about to begin
Yes, yes, I realise that's actually the job of a parent, but I can't actually be the only mum or dad who plonks the kids down in front of the telly for a moment to nip to the washing line or make a start on dinner, and then finds it quite tempting to leave them there a bit longer in order to actually get some other useful things done. You know, like peeing in peace or tackling the laundry mountain?! So, yes, I feel quite guilty for admitting it but I'd like an app with an alarm that 'pings' to let me know when it's time to quit using screens as babysitters.
6. Potty training app. As in one that actually does it for you. What? Why has no-one else yet come up with this?
7. A sibling reconciliation app
While we're reaching for the impossible, I'd love an app that could sort out squabbling and combat sibling rivalry. Maybe I could foist my phone on the kids when they start bickering and it'll dish out a bit of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or even an inspiring pep-talk from grown-up siblings who've learned to realise that they never should have battered each other as often as they did as kids. I don't know; I'm no app developer. I'd just like some help to fix the old sibling rivalry thing, please. Heck, I'd even pay for that app.
8. An honest and accurate weather app
This one was my kid's suggestion, and what a great idea for an app. Instead of those boring old weather forecasts which predict a sunny afternoon and then leave you huddling for shelter in the park, we'd like an app which tells it as it really is when it comes to the weather. If we could link this to apps which suggest cool stuff to do when it's lashing with rain for the eighth consecutive day in the summer hols, that would also be really, really great.
9. X-ray app to check for broken bones
Ok now I'm beginning to think that I might regret writing this with such candour, but there have been at least three occasions in my parenting life when a trip to A&E might have been avoided if I'd had an app to x-ray my kids for broken bones. I hasten to add that on only two of those occasions did we have an actual break, and both times I wasn't there when it happened. Ok, that makes it sound even worse. Never mind. I'd just like an app that would enable me to wave my phone at my kids and have it determine whether they've broken a bone or just sprained an ankle, and if they've got the flu or are just angling for a duvet day off school.
10. An app that alerts you when your child is up to mischief
Even I can admit that this one might stray a bit close to the notion of tagging your kids. But you know those times when you thought there were playing quietly with their trains and it turned out they were smearing Sudocrem all over their baby sister? Well how about an app that lets you sniff out mischief before it gets unleashed. I bet we'd make a fortune if we could figure out how to build this one.
11. And finally, I'd really like an app that acts a bit like a crystal ball. But rather than one which predicts how the kids will turn out in the end, I'd like one to show me how my life might have been if I'd never become a mum. Why?
Because in a moment of really stressed-out parenting madness last week I found myself daydreaming of the days when I had no-one to care about except for myself, could blow all my disposable income on shoes for ME, and didn't spend hours refereeing sibling fights or issuing time-outs and screen bans for cheeky behaviour.
But what struck me is that if I could glimpse the life I might have had if my kids hadn't graced my life with their presence, I'd probably be overcome with thankfulness and swiftly reminded that - even in the difficult days and moments that feel like parenting fails - I do indeed have the life I dreamt of one day having, and the kids are the absolute icing on that cake.
An app that could serve as a timely reminder of that would be practically priceless.