Best Free Apps for Preschooler / Toddlers

We’ve all been there or seen it happen: a parent or nanny is trying to get through a simple transaction at the grocery store or library when their toddler starts fussing. The situation escalates quickly and suddenly every interaction becomes a DEFCON encounter. Parents and nannies have an easy tool in their pocket to quickly deescalate a tantrum, but the question is, is it ethical? Should children be exposed to it? If so, for how long and with what parameters? We are of course referring to the smartphone.
Up until 2016, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation was that children under 2 should never be exposed to screens. Technology is never inherently good or bad. The polarity represents itself in it’s how it’s used, and there are many beneficial ways for parents to utilize smartphones to assist in the early developmental learning of their child. Caretakers can monitor screen time by setting boundaries, by engaging children with the apps used, and being smart about the types of apps they allow their children to engage with. 
We think that when used correctly, apps can be essential tools in assisting children’s early developmental skills and can create a foundation for early education. However, learning apps should never take precedence over time with a caretaker and should be used for an hour a day at the max. Apps should also be actively educational rather than passive content. To reap the full benefits of these games, children to have agency over their actions and choices. 
Here are our picks for the best educational apps for toddlers:
Shapes is a game where toddlers identify different colors and shapes and differentiate between different sizes.
In this top-rated sensory app, kids use the touch screen to direct brightly colored balls that produce sound effects and mix colors. This app is great for sensory and color learning.
Tots can choose from several different stimulating matching and memory games. Colorful fish form different numbers, shapes, and letters, and children are encouraged to identify them.
This simple app by Fisher-Price teaches children about animals by learning the sounds they make.
Kids identify animals, emotions, and behaviors.
This app is full of fun, age-appropriate learning games.
Kids use the touch screen to create mess-free virtual masterpieces.
This game is geared towards learning letters and beginning to spell.
Kids can earn virtual stickers by playing games to find the correct letter or shape.
In this app, kids learn about patterns and number recognition through age-appropriate puzzles and games.
Kids can watch educational video content.
Kids create food and feed it to a silly monster.
Kids learn musical basics like notes, rhythm, and pitch.
While technology and children is still an area that has yet to be conclusively studied with definitive answers in regards to how it affects early development, it’s hard to argue that educational games that teach and stimulate could have negative effects. While you should still be mindful of the games your child interacts with, the above are a great starting point to providing your child with educational screen time. 







The first step to managing the burn out is to identify it and recognize it for what it is. Burnout can look like many different things, but the general symptoms are:

“Burning out as a nanny is a common affair and is not something to be ashamed of or to stress out about even further, but it also shouldn’t be the new normal.”

Burn out is generally accepted as occurring when a nanny doesn’t have enough time for themselves to recharge, decompress and de-stress in-between shifts. This type of burn out is temporary and can be relieved simply by relaxing over the weekend or taking quality time for oneself. For more chronic burnout, however, there are many factors that can add up. Nannies who are at risk for burn out are:

  • Nannies who have a sense of personal responsibility. This type of burn out is especially present in nannies who do more emotional care giving, usually for children with special needs or in homes where there is turmoil or neglect.
  • Nannies who are not being paid enough. If one’s needs aren’t being met financially, it can be very difficult to be present for the job that is supposed to be paying your rent and feeding you.
  • Nannies who work without boundaries. If a nanny is without a work agreement and their role in unclear, they may end up being asked to take on additional roles outside of care giving.
  • Nannies who work long hours without time to recharge in-between shifts.

What can I do?

Many nannies work long hours and become emotionally invested in order to provide children with the proper care that they need and deserve, and to scale back on that care would be against their beliefs and be damaging for the child. So, as a nanny, how can you take care of yourself and the child?

Engage in Self Care

Self care is a major buzzword these days, but it looks different for everyone. Self care can be manipulated into marketing schemes, so it’s important to recognize what acts are actually beneficial to your rejuvenation between stressful care giving shifts. Shopping as self care may be good for some people, but if the cause of your burn out is due to financial stressors, it probably won’t do you any good. Self care is whatever you need to do to shake off the day. Exercise is a proven method of de-stressing and releasing endorphins, the chemicals in your brain that are responsible for happiness. Exercising every day also helps you manage stress and deal with whatever is coming up for you. Taking a bath, reading a good book, watching a movie or engaging in a creative activity are also wonderful ways of engaging in self care for nannies.

Practice Mindfulness

Change your perspective while you’re at work. Instead of focusing on the negatives, “I’m not being paid enough for this”, “I am giving so much to this family”, or “I’m not getting enough help” think about all of the positives that are present, like “I am making a wonderful connection and a difference in this child’s life” and “I am capable and strong and can handle any adversity that is thrown at me.” Many caregivers get disheartened when their work goes unnoticed. Often, it is those types of families that the work is needed most. 
Visualize the fact that connecting with and nurturing their child is making a huge impact in their life. Think about how doing the laundry or cleaning the kitchen is creating a safe environment for the child. Changing the way you look at your role can have a huge impact on your mental health and your burn out. Take control of your days by engaging the child in fun activities that are also fun for you. Have a dance party, make a silly craft or just get a change of scenery. If it makes you smile, it will also make the child smile.

Draw Clear Boundaries

It is ideal for all nannies to have a close connection with their charges and with their families, but that closeness can often lead to feelings of guilt and obligation. If you are asked to do something you know will tire you out or leave you cranky and irritable, it’s okay to say no. Your job as a caregiver first and foremost is to care for the child, and anything that impedes on your ability to do so is outside of your job description and therefore not your responsibility. If you set expectations with the family, they can understand what you need and how better to allow you to assist the family.

Reach Out

If burnout is not managed, it can lead to more severe mental illnesses. Ask for help if you are having symptoms of depression or anxiety that you can’t manage yourself. Nannies are hard workers and often work alone, but there is no shame in asking for help when it is needed. If you are getting the help that you need in order to do your job correctly, then all parties benefit. Tell your nanny family that you are having difficulties performing, and have an open and honest conversation about how you can work together to make things better.

Accept Your Situation

Burning out as a nanny is a common affair and is not something to be ashamed of or to stress out about even further, but it also shouldn’t be the new normal. Once you accept that you are burned out, you can start taking steps to make your work-life balance healthy again.
If you are a nanny experiencing burn out, reach out to us! We can offer a number of solutions from drafting nanny work agreements to advice on how to set boundaries. Remember that you are not alone, all caregivers have felt this way at one point, but there is no reason that you need to continue feeling stressed.

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