I often marvel how parents fifty years ago managed without wet wipes. How they navigated a busy shopping centre with a buggy whose wheels only faced forwards. Pinned a wriggling child into a nappy without shedding blood. Shopped without electronic devices to distract the small people.
In another fifty years, there will probably be another raft of new inventions designed to make parenting that little bit easier. If James Dyson or any other clever inventor-types are reading this, I would like to put in a request for the following:
1. A child-activated “Flush the toilet, Wash your hands” sign
In my imagination, this would be linked to the handle of the bathroom door. As soon as the child puts their hand onto it, it would activate a sign which lights up and flashes a message which reminds them to flush and wash. Possibly, there could also be a speaker for younger children who can’t yet read.
In more extreme cases of obstinate non-hand washers, the door could be locked and would only be able to be opened by hands which are scanned and found to be bacteria free.
2. The Mum Stun Gun
My kids like to run. Or hop, jog, skip, whatever. They like to move quickly. Which means I spend a good proportion of my time calling for them to stop or come back. Due to my naturally loud voice (a benefit as a teacher, not so good in libraries) this usually means everyone else in the vicinity turns too and is thereby a witness to my lack of parental control.
With a Mum Stun Gun, I would be embarrassed no more. One blast would freeze them in their tracks; no yelling required. This invention would, of course, be completely painless and harmless (I’m not suggesting we Taser our children) and would merely freeze them to the spot until I could catch up and clamp a hand onto them
3. A Mind Reading Helmet
You know those times when you make them their favourite dinner only to be told that they don’t like sausages anymore? Or they are crying relentlessly because you have/haven’t done something but you haven’t got the foggiest idea what that might be? The Mind Reading Helmet would banish these issues from your life. Just pop one onto their head, and another onto yours, and within seconds you will have the answer you are looking for.
(Disclaimer: effective use of this product is dependent on the child actually knowing what the hell it is they actually want.)
4. The Pair Alarm
How many parent hours are wasted every year searching for a lost shoe? How many pounds spent buying new pairs of socks to replace the multitude of odd ones which seem to loiter in the underwear drawer? A simple tag on every shoe, sock, glove which beeped when it was more than a metre from its partner would solve the problem forever.
5. A Time-Controlling Clock
I know I am asking the impossible on this one, but how good would it be if we could speed up time whenever we wanted to? In a long queue at the supermarket with a crying baby – fast forward 15 minutes. Packing up your camping gear in the pouring rain watching your offspring get muddier by the second – fast forward four hours. Husband calls to say he will be late home from work and the kids are driving you doolally – set the Time Controlling Clock to 15 minutes past bedtime and pour yourself a drink.
Ideally, the clock would work the other way too. So when you watch them sleep and your heart contracts at how long their legs have got, or you watch them playing happily together, or you spend one of those perfect family days when you are grateful for every single moment – the clock could be used to slow time down, or even to pause it for little while.
And if you can invent that, every parent would pay you a fortune.