This post is the first in our Smarter Parenting series, created by Stephanie Hinderks. Stephanie is a mother of two, and a senior product manager at Alarm.com.
This summer, we hit a major milestone in my family: We were finally able to take advantage of the curbside “kiss and ride” drop off at camp. When I checked the rearview mirror, I could see both kids skipping away without a backward glance as I drove off to work. Separation anxiety is becoming a thing of the past – for the kids, at least.
As a mother, of course, it never quite goes away. While the panic of handing your newborn off to daycare or a babysitter may subside quickly, separation anxiety will stick around in a different form: FOMO, that fear of missing out on precious childhood memories.
I used to love hearing from my babysitter what the kids had been up to all day, but I found myself wishing I could see for myself. Now, I use technology at home to make that possible.
As well as a security system, my Alarm.com system is also a state-of-the-art anxiety reduction tool, with features like smart video cameras that show you what’s happening at home — right from a home security app on your phone.
Part of my job involves testing smarter home technology in my own house and from my desk at work. I’ve noticed three benefits that really jump out.
It lightens that FOMO feeling
I had a recurring favorite text message this summer; it arrived at 3:30 p.m. every day and it showed me a video clip of my kids arriving home from summer camp. They’d be excited, happy, and usually weighed down with some combination of tennis racquets, swim bags, and art projects as they burst through the front door. It’s a moment that I didn’t want to miss.
We have several video cameras connected to our security system and they all play their part in reducing that left-out feeling that working moms can probably relate to. Besides the front door camera, my favorite is the playroom camera with its wide-angle lens, capable of capturing any LEGO project in its entirety. I might not be there, but I do get to see the building happen — and when I get home, I’m better equipped to ask them questions about what they did that day.
It helps me trust that the kids are happy
“One hour of TV,” I said to a new babysitter as I left. That evening, my son — then 3 — told me he’d watched TV for hours and hours. Was he exaggerating? I’ll never know.
Today, I trust our current babysitter completely. That’s because she is completely trustworthy, and also because of my home security app.
A few times a day, I open my app’s video screen (usually the playroom camera) for 30 seconds, just to see what’s going on.
Every time, I see my kids happy and the sitter engaged with them. She’s as hands-on and present with them as she is when I’m there in person, and the kids are having a great time doing projects, playing games, and using their imaginations.
While she’s aware there are cameras in the home, I know she’s not just putting on a show. I never announce when I’m checking in, and seeing her interacting with the kids helps me trust her more completely.
It helps keep you focused
What I love most about smarter home technology is that a quick check-in can put 99 percent of everyday anxieties to rest in 30 seconds. Sometimes there’s no substitute for seeing with my own eyes that my son and daughter are happy and safe. After a quick check-in via my smartphone app — it takes just a couple of taps to access my video cameras — I can immediately focus fully on my projects and meetings at work, without having to ask, “I wonder what they’re doing now?”
And staying focused helps me get home to my kids sooner, which is the best benefit of all.
A version of this post originally appeared at babycenter.com.