bedtime game changer

I’m sure you’re wondering, why? Or, even questioning how more technology could benefit your night time routine but, it has and it's turned my most intense few hours of parenting (aka. tuck-in) into a much more enjoyable affair. 

The Amazon Echo Dot (she’s been fondly named Alexa) is the company’s newest hands-free, voice controlled device that plays music, answers questions, reads the news, sets alarms and even reads audiobooks aloud. Now, don’t get me wrong, it isn’t a substitute for parenting but, it’s certainly a great bedtime partner. Here’s why:

Bedtime Ownership
My girls are semi-professional bedtime stall'ers but when we started putting timers on their routine, they seemed to buy-in! Now, before jumping in the tub, my oldest scoots into her room to set a 15-minute timer on Alexa. She’s deemed that her and her sister’s play time before they wash hair and bodies. They love that they are in charge of setting the timer and that they can dictate play time before ‘jobs’ start. We love it because it blends fun in the tub with actually getting things done.

Music + White Noise
With both of them in the same room now, getting our girls to settle down at the same time is often as likely as winning the weekly Power Ball. Alexa has a wide variety of Amazon music options that play a selection of kids’, lullaby, Disney music as well as natural sounds such as waves, forest and white noise. Having music playing that is specifically tailored to little people let's them work together to choose what they listen to each night and seems to allow them to settle better in their beds. 
Sleep Timer
Another great feature of our Amazon Echo Dot is its Sleep Timer (shutting the whole system down at the end of the timer) which helps keep my youngest from listening to music into the wee hours. I let the girls set the music and then depending on the time of night or the behavior during tuck-in, I’m able to give them more or less listening time while making sure tunes don’t play all night long.
My favorite feature of the Echo Dot is the ability to listen to Audiobooks. I recently ordered Children’s Bedtime Favorites and Disney Storybook which is a compilation of 20, four to eight minute abridged stories from the current Disney collection and it's been a hit! After we read books (read our girl power book list blog) to our girls, I often let them listen to 10-20 extra minutes. It’s amazing how calm my fidgety four-year-old will get when met with a tale about Nemo, Quasi Moto, Lightning McQueen or Sheriff Woody.
Each morning, my oldest daughter wakes up, stretches her arms above her head and asks, “Alexa, what will the weather be like today?” which Alexa responds with the daily weather forecast for our area. Getting this info up front allows her to 'own' her outfit each morning while making smarter decisions about how she dresses for forecast. She loves it and has made it a morning ritual. 
The Big Dipper
My kids love to ask questions and sometimes, I just don’t have the answer. Alexa is great at having my back in these moments. A few weeks back, the Big Dipper was drawn in the background of one of my girl’s picture books. We talked about it being a series of stars but then Alexa chimed in and added:  “The Big Dipper is an asterism (pattern of stars recognized in the Earth’s night sky) consisting of seven bright stars of the constellation Ursa Major. The North Star (Polaris), the current northern pole star and the tip of the handle of the Little Dipper, can be located by extending an imaginary line through the front two stars of the asterism, Merak and Dubhe. This makes it useful in celestial navigation." Now, tell me that's not a lesson in itself! 
Ps + Qs
When we first considered buying an Echo Dot, we were concerned about adding a ‘listening device’ to our childrens' room so we read up. One of the ‘cons’ of Alexa that we came across was that manners can potentially fly out the window when barking orders at a machine to ‘Do this!’, ‘Tell me this!’ and ‘Set a timer for that!’. To combat this, we’ve told our girls that they need to always address Alexa with their best manners—‘Please play music…’, ‘Alexa, can you please tell me the weather today? If the manners cease, so will the use of Alexa so they've began to treat her as one of our 'virtual' family members--please and thank yous included. 
With all these great features, you can imagine why we’ve adopted Alexa into our family night routine. It’s a no-brainer and if you’re looking for a kid gift idea, stocking stuffer or new technology for your own bedroom--I'd buy this in a heart beat! Oh and can thank me later :)