Monday, 2 May 2016

App Review - Jigsaw Family Connect

Hello again my lovely readers, today I am here to discuss with you a new free app which has hit the iTunes store and Google Play.

I was contacted last month by one of the developers of this app, a lovely gentleman called Simon. He is a fellow blogger who is passionate about developing positive families. So to help facilitate this, he has helped to develop the Jigsaw Family Connect app.

This app is all about being conscious about the time you spend with your children. You can set yourself goals based on how much time you want to spend with your kids, anything from 1 hour to 40 hours in a month, and then record each activity that you undertake with your children that brings you further towards your goal.

So I downloaded the free app in the middle of March, and then spent the next 30 days tracking the time I spent focused completely on Miss K. Whenever we spent any dedicated time completing an activity together, whether it be going outside to kick a ball around, or sitting in her room to read a book together, I'd write it down in the app, and it tracked my progress the whole time.

It was very encouraging, even when I forgot to tell it I was playing with my child.

The app itself is very user friendly, it has an easy to use interface and it takes next to no time to learn your way around the buttons. It even includes a page where you can find suggestions for activities to complete together, which is great for rainy days where your kids are climbing the walls with boredom. (or even the dreaded school holidays, where you are faced with the daunting task of having to entertain your children for 2 to 8 weeks at a time) and it takes the guess work out of picking something to do when your brain is fried from playing mum all day long.

Just not Monopoly, that game destroys families.

The app is currently in its first release, so there will be improvements down the road, including an increase in the suggested activities provided. However I did notice two things that would make the app easier for forgetful (and lazy) parents like me. The first thing is that there is no way to set an amount of time for completed activities that take less than an hour. I don't know about any of you, but an hour is an awfully long time to spend with my daughter, and I have never seen her last that long at anything except nagging me for more food. If any of you have children that can last an hour doing one task only, would you possibly like to discuss the option to swap with my darling she-devil with the attention span of a goldfish??

That and I'm lucky to last more than ten minutes playing backyard footy even on my best days.

The only other thing I noticed is that there is no possible way to back date activities. If you are forgetful (like me) or lazy (like me) it can sometimes take several days to remember that you need to keep entering your activities on a daily basis. Of course in the long run this doesn't really affect the running of the app, except that there are days on my copy of the app where it looks like I spent every single waking minute of one day playing with my child, and then a whole week where I ignored her totally. Of course this could have totally been the case with me, and I spent one whole day of the week playing anything Miss K wanted, only to have to spend the rest of the week cleaning up the aftermath of playing like a five year old for a whole day. I don't call her the hurricane for nothing.

I promise I spent way more time than this with her on that day, at least I think she was the one I played footy with. 

Luckily for me, when I noticed these things I contacted the developer and brought up my concerns with him. He was grateful for the feedback and let me know that my suggestions are going to be considered in the next update, so hopefully soon lazy parents like me can continue being lazy and not look quite so nutty when using this app. I have also been reassured that further developments are being planned for future updates, but a lot of these require user input, so the more of you who download this app, the better it becomes.

The best thing about this app was that it made me think about exactly how much time I am spending with my child. Of course I have her with me most of the time, except for kindergarten and visits with her father, but that didn't mean the time we were spending together was actually beneficial or meaningful for her, or me. By consciously deciding to pay attention to the time we were spending together, and the activities we were completing, I was able to see exactly how much real time I was spending with Miss K and how often I was just phoning it in, or pretending to listen while I ran through the mile long to do list in my head. While I can never say I'm a perfect parent, I always thought I was a more conscious parent. This app has not only shown me that I need to be more attentive, but it gives suggestions for exactly how I can do that. And now that I know these things I am taking the steps I need to be a more attentive and present mum.

I know I was definitely present when this photo was taken

So if there are any of you who want a way to track the time you spend with your kids, whether it be because you have a jam packed full schedule, and you want to make sure you're dedicating enough time to your kids, or simply to see if you're spending as much beneficial time with your kids as you possibly can, then download this app today from iTunes or Google Play. It's easy to use, and best of all it is totally free.

*Searching for Sanity is in no way affiliated with Jigsaw Family Connect or its developer Noon Layer. Because this app is free for download I received no remuneration for providing this review.*

**Update 26/5/16 I have just heard from the developer that the suggestions I made have been added to the latest update of the app. You can now do activities for 15, 30 and 45 minutes as well as the hours listed. There is now also the option to add a date to each activity for forgetful people like me. They have also opened up a contest through the app for regular prizes if you share activities with the community. This update is live now through Google Play however there will be a slight delay getting the updates completed in iTunes.

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