I admit technology can be tricky when it comes to drawing the line on screen time for kids, and, OK, maybe even for ourselves. But when it comes to the ways tech makes my actual everyday life easier? Well, I can’t deny that I’m in love:
I don’t know how any family with multiple children ever navigated an amusement park and found each other again without cell phones and texts. Oh, and babysitters — we really don’t want to play phone tag, finally book them, and then after all the drama of nailing them down wind up forgetting what time we told them to show up. (Also, the teenage babysitters definitely don’t want to talk to us, either.) And then there’s the group text, which I know some people find annoying, but would you really rather call every friend separately to ask them if they want to do an impromptu happy hour? Of course not — that would be an unhappy hour of wasted phone time. I’d much rather spend that hour sipping wine with my friends.
2. Online Bill Pay
Stamps, envelopes, checks, and the 30 minutes minimum required to sit down and open all that mail, ugh. I love skipping all that hassle and instead getting the email notice that “your bill for x has been paid.” Awesome. If only there were a way for my computer to automatically fill out my children’s endless registration and medical history forms too.
3. Library Renewals and Holds
Do you all have this fabulousness where you live? I can request books online, and the library sends me an email when my order is ready for pickup. When my books are coming due (and my book-crazy family usually has about 50 out at any one time), I get an email notice, and I can renew via my online account — no schlepping the stack to the library to get them re-stamped with a new due date like in the olden days. And get this: Some libraries even have drive-up windows now. Brilliant!
4. Drive-Thru Pharmacies
Let’s take a moment to pay homage to the drive-thru. You’ve just dragged your feverish kid (and your other kids too) to the pediatrician. It’s strep. No more taking a paper prescription and sitting at the pharmacy with a soon-to-be-barfing kid while you wait for your medicine. Nope, now we let the doctor call it in, and we pick it up from the car. Why did it take so long to think of this? (And by the way, when are we getting drive-thru grocery stores so we can get a gallon of milk and a loaf of bread without dragging complaining kids through the rain and around the store? Drive-thru everything, please!)
5. ATM Machines
I actually found a bank that would give my kids old-fashioned passbook accounts, like the ones we had when we were kids, because I wanted to make the idea of money and saving concrete — they carry the money to the bank, they process a transaction at the counter, and they walk out with the book showing their savings and interest. But oh my gosh, the forms! And the lines! It’s good I only take them about twice a year because that right there is some time-consuming errand-running. Give me the ATM, thank you very much — drive-thru, of course.
6. Google Maps
No more unwieldy paper maps, and no more trying to read a crumpled printout of MapQuest directions while looking for your turn. GPS has made navigation so much more easy and convenient — except for those times you’re in the mountains and your signal craps out. Then you might still want to know how to read a map. Of course you won’t have one, but that’s another story.
I cannot tell a lie — I love me some Amazon. Of course I love and support my local businesses, and I’m sure you do too. But sometimes (OK, lots of times) life is in the way and it’s just going to be more than two days before I can make the rounds of all those (NEVER-EVER-ENDING) errands. Amazon Prime is my express best friend for everything from birthday party gifts to kid socks to cat food.
So, what am I doing with all this time I’ve saved, you ask? Lovely, fulfilling, productive things, of course. And maybe just a little bit of Facebook. OK, fine, maybe more than a little. Oh, never mind. See you on the technology!