Sammy Screamer

Suzy Snooze

Benjamin Brush

Tony Tempa

Lily Loco

Hungry Henry

Andy Cam

Tommy Time

Do you wish that being a parent was easier?

Looking for new ways to help you keep an eye on your children?

Connected homes allow you to manage your home without the hassle, so you only have to worry about looking after your kids.

In this article, you’ll find out how you can make your home “smart” and how it will make being a parent so much easier.

What is a Smart Home?

A Smart Home, also known as a connected home, is a home that uses appliances that can be controlled remotely by a smartphone or computer. This can include setting the thermostat, turning the lights on or opening the front door.

Currently, 14% of homes in the UK are “Smart”, and another 20% intend to convert within the next year.


Now let’s look at how smart homes can make parenting easier.

1. Lighting

Philips Hue Smart Lights

Kids are awful at leaving lights on and for a few years they’ll be too small to reach the switch. Smart lighting opens a world of possibilities that will mean you never have to worry about minor problems like this again.

Key Features

  • ‣ Turn lights on/off automatically to tell your children it’s time for bed or to gently wake them up every morning. This can be synchronised with an alarm and automated curtains (Check out Somfy or Silent Gliss) for a full routine.

  • ‣ Use a motion detector (Phillips and Ikea both do these) to automatically turn lights on when your child enters the room.

  • ‣ Easily turn all lights off as you leave the house, never again will their bedroom light be on all day!

  • ‣ Automate your lights to come on, even when you’re away so it always looks like you’re at home.

  •  

    Who does it: Philips Hue, Innr, Ikea Trådfri, Hive, Belkin Wemo, Lightwave RF

    How much is it: Starter Kits from £49 (Philips Hue), Bulbs from £7 (Ikea Trådfri)

    2. Security

    The Front Door

    August Smart Lock

    What do you do if you forget your keys? Most of us have a key under the mat/flowerpot/gnome, but that’s not very secure. Children are the worst for this, but they never forget their phone (It’s hard when they’re glued to it 24/7!)

    Smart locks solve this, you’ll never have to worry about your child being locked out again, and the door will open as they get home Having a smart lock means that you always have complete control of your house.

    Key Features

    • ‣ Receive notifications when the door is opened (and by who) so you know your child has got home safely

    • ‣ Easily check whether the house was locked or not

    • ‣ Open the door remotely for your cleaner or give them a code that only works when they’re supposed to be there.

    • ‣ If your child has forgotten their phone or, more likely it’s dead, all they need to do is ask a neighbour to call you and you’ll be able to open it without rushing home.

      Who makes it: August, Yale, Kwikset, Schlage, Friday, Lockitron and Many More

      How much is it: From £130 (August Smart Lock)

      Inside The Home

      SmartCube

      You don’t want your children to get their hands on dangerous chemicals, medicine or alcohol. However, as they start to crawl they’ll want to open every door and cupboard.

      You could put a padlock on the cupboards, but what happens when you need something and can’t find a key? And you probably don’t want to screw a padlock latch onto a nice cabinet. You can also forget to lock it. Simply put, a traditional lock isn’t what you want. The solution is the SmartCube.

      Key Features

      • ‣ Securely lock any door, cupboard or door, keeping prying hands off the cleaning products or away from their Christmas presents

      • ‣ Open any lock through a dedicated smartphone app, no more need for keys

      • ‣ Set the lock to automatically lock, so you never have to worry about it being left open

      • ‣ Remove and relocate the SmartCube without leaving holes in your fittings


        Your children can even take it with them when they go on to university to help secure their belongings in their room.

        Who makes it: SmartCube
        How much is it cost: From £75 per lock

         

        3. Bedtime

        Baby monitors have been around for years, but they generally have very limited functionality and lifespan. After your child has started sleeping through the whole night there’s not much need for them.

         

        Suzy Snooze by BleepBleeps is a connected baby monitor designed to last for years. Not only will this give you peace of mind with your baby, your child will love it too!

        Key Features:

        • ‣ Sends notifications straight to your phone if it detects any noise.

        • ‣ Functions as a nightlight with a soothing orange glow, optimised to promote natural sleep hormones

        • ‣ Plays calming music to help your children sleep.

        • ‣ Can be set to turn off in the morning to train your child to stay in bed. Those extra minutes (or hours) of sleep are priceless!

         

        Who makes it: BleepBleeps
        How much is it: £179

        4. Entertainment

        Home Assistant

        Google Home

        It can be hard to keep kids entertained, especially over the summer holidays. So, let your home assistant take care of it. Home assistants do more than tell you the time, they now have a vast range of skills and many of them can be used to keep your kids busy.

        Key Features

        • ‣ Play games with your children including Hangman, The Name Game (Rhyming) and musical chairs

        • ‣ Control the lights and have a disco in your living room

        • ‣ Play fun quizzes with your children that are entertaining and educational such as space trivia and question of the day

        • ‣ Read stories the whole family can enjoy

        • ‣ Tell Jokes

        • ‣ Play your music collection or connect to your music streaming service and they can dance for hours.

        Google Home Skills

        • ‣ Hey, Google, Tell me a story – Google Assistant reads a random classic story from its library

        • ‣ Hey Google, Play Freeze Dance – Google Assistant is the DJ for musical statues, randomly telling everyone to freeze

        • ‣ Hey Google, Play This Or That – Google Assistant will ask you to choose between two crazy, hypothetical situations.

        Amazon Alexa Skills

        • Snakes and Ladders – The traditional board game reimagined. Alexa describes the position of the players so just open the skill and start.

        • Would You Rather – Would you rather be covered in hair or completely bald? Just one of 150 Questions Alexa will ask!

        • True Or False - Alexa asks a true or false question: can you get it right?

         

        See some more from Google Home in this video: 

         

        Who makes it: Google Home, Amazon Alexa, Apple HomePod

        How much is it: From £49 (Google and Amazon)

         

        Robots

        Remember when you were told that in the future there would be robots that do everything for you? Well sorry to get your hopes up, they’re still not here. That said, there are some pretty fun robots out there that your kids will love. Cue the i-Que. i-Que is a connected Robot that plays games, moves and plays music.

         

        Key Features

        • ‣ Children ask questions to try and outsmart it

        • ‣ Infinite number of puzzles and brain teasers to ask children

        • ‣ Two movement modes: walk and dance.

        • ‣ Internet Safe-Search filters to protect kids

        • ‣ Connects to the internet via a smartphone – control its use when it’s online.

           

          Who makes it: i-Que

          How much is it: £65

           

          5. Make life easier

          Smart homes are making life easier and they don’t just help you look after your kids. They also save you time, taking care of many of the chores that fill your spare time, allowing you to spend more time with your kids. Pretty much everything you could want is automated.

           

          Smart Kettles

          AppKettle

          Wouldn’t it be nice to get back home and not have to wait for the kettle to boil to have a cup of tea? Or to get up every morning and know your coffee is just waiting for you to pour it? Smart Kettles are new into the connected home market but can make your life so much more relaxing.

          Key Features:

          • ‣ Automatically turn it on as you leave work or on a timer, so the kettle will be boiled for you

          • ‣ See how much water is in the kettle, so you always have enough.

          • ‣ Heat water to the right temperature to warm baby milk.

          • ‣ Monitor how much power you’re using if you’re trying to save energy

          • ‣ Keep the kettle warm, so you don’t waste energy re-boiling it minutes later

           

          Who Makes it: Appkettle, Smarter iKettle

          How much is it: from £99 (Smarter iKettle)

           

          Smart Plugs

          Smart plugs allow you to make any appliance “Smart.” You can automate turning on and off your TV, standing lights, radios, heater and anything else you can think of.

           

          They come in two forms: A plug, similar to an adaptor, that sits between the wall socket and the device or a replacement wall socket.

           

          Key Features

          • ‣ Easily turn on/off plugs hidden behind furniture

          • ‣ Set appliances to turn on/off on a timer

          • ‣ Turn off all devices, never leave hair straighteners left on again.

           

          Which you have depends on many factors, including whether you want to move the device and how long you plan to stay in your house, but both have their merits. Many of them also let you monitor the power usage of your devices.

           

          Who Makes it: LightwaveRF, Belkin Wemo, TP-Link, WiFi Plug, Hive, Elgato Eve

          How Much is it: From £29 (Belkin Wemo)

          Ember

          Ember Smart Mug

          It’s really easy to put your cup of tea down and forget about it, only to find it again when it’s cold. Every parent knows this pain. The Ember mug is the answer to your prayers.

          Key Features

          • ‣ Keeps your drink at a constant temperature

          • ‣ Temperature controlled from an app, Smart Watch or by turning the base of the mug

          • ‣ Built in battery lasts for 1 hour, and it chargesofa convenient coaster.

          • ‣ Fully Waterproof (Naturally!)


          Who Makes it: Ember
          How Much is it: From $79 USD

           

          6. Automation

          IFTTT

          The most useful thing about smart homes is automating everything. Most products come with a highly functional app, but using IFTTT (IF This Then That), a Free App, you can fully automate your home.

          Key Features.

          • ‣ Trigger your lights to turn on and the door to unlock as your car pulls up onto the driveway, perfect for when you’re coming back with a car full of shopping and a baby to carry in.

          • ‣ Set a timer where your lights flash at the end rather than playing a sound that might wake up a sleeping child.

          • ‣ Turn all lights off when the last person leaves the house, so no lights are left on unnecessarily.

          • ‣ Receive an emergency phone call if your smoke alarm detects smoke.

          Key IFTTT Recipes

          • ‣ Get a notification every morning with the weather so your children are dressed appropriately

          Get a notification with the weather every morning

          • ‣ Send a message when you’re leaving work so everyone knows you’re on the way home.

          Send a text message when you're coming home

          ‣ Activate the SMS Channel with the number of your choice to send to other people.

          • ‣ Get a notification if someone opens the alcohol cabinet, just in case the kids are planning on borrowing some!

          Call me if the liquor cabinet opens!

          Activate this recipe when you're leaving home to call you when the teenagers have gotten into the liquor cabinet!

           

          Have a look at this image for more ideas on how you can connect your home.

           

          Conclusion

          A connected home is all about making your life easier.

           

          Once you’ve got one smart device in your house, you’ll want to keep adding more. Smart Lighting, Locks, Nightlights, kettles and more: they all take some of the stress out of being a parent.

           

          Yes, you can live without them, but why would you want to?

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