You know what they say about parenting: It's the hardest job you'll ever love. Of course, you might love it a little more if it weren't so flippin' hard all the time. So let's hear it for all the iPhone apps designed to make parents' lives a little easier.
There are dozens, if not hundreds, of such apps in the Store, but I've rounded up five that I consider essential--starting with one that can make injuries and illnesses a little less scary (for you, anyway):
1. Kid Care Your toddler is running a fever of 103. Should you call your pediatrician? Head for the hospital? Wait it out? Kid Care offers medical advice for dozens of common symptoms--everything from bee stings to headaches to wheezing. Based on proven clinical protocols, the app provides symptom definitions and images, care advice, medicine dosage information, and helpful reading material such as "Fever--Myth Vs. Facts." There's also a handy dial-your-doctor button and a location-aware emergency-services finder. My only wish is that I'd had this incredible app at my fingertips when my kids were younger. Amazingly, it's free.
2. Tales2Go A new favorite in our house--make that our car--Tales2Go streams on-demand audiobooks for kids. The collection now exceeds 1,000 titles, including such well-known series as "American Girl," "The Boxcar Children," "Diary of a Wimpy Kid," and "Junie B. Jones." The app is free, as is a 30-day trial of the service. After that, you pay $24.99 for a year of unlimited listening. As someone who's spent that much on a single audiobook CD, I consider that the bargain of the century.
3. Dr. Seuss e-books (and others) Nothing beats reading to your kids, but that's a little tricky when you're behind the wheel. Or don't have a book on hand. For those and other times, I can't recommend Oceanhouse Media's Dr. Seuss e-books highly enough. Priced at $2.99 each, "Dr. Seuss's ABC," "The Cat in the Hat," and "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" are animated, narrated, and wonderful. I consider these "best of breed," though you may also want to check out Paco Bongo ($1.99), Sesame Street: The Playground ($1.99), and the new movie tie-in title, How to Train Your Dragon (99 cents)--to name just a few.
4. Mobicip Safe Browser Are your kids old enough to use Safari? If so, they may accidentally (or, let's face it, purposefully) land on some of the Web's seedier sites. Mobicip Safe Browser ($4.99) blocks inappropriate URLs and search results, and lets you implement filters based on your kids' age levels. It's a smart, effective replacement for Safari, one I highly recommend.
5. iRewardChart Good behavior should be its own reward--but that's a hard concept for kids to grasp, and even harder for parents to enforce. iRewardChart adds incentive, allowing you to award stars for various behaviors (sharing, picking up toys, not interrupting, etc.). Eventually, the kids get to redeem their stars for a reward (a new book, an hour of TV, etc.). You can customize everything: tasks, rewards, stars required per reward, and so on. The app even lets you tweet your child's accomplishments. $4.99 may seem a little steep, but if iRewardChart encourages and ultimately achieves better behavior, well, it's a small price to pay.
Fellow parents, now it's your turn: What child-rearing apps have you found indispensable? Hit the comments and list your favorites.