Before you have kids, you can't really imagine how profoundly they'll change your life. I'm not just talking about the months without sleep. It's more the way formerly reasonable adults become preoccupied by things like baby poop and sippy cups. The Internet provides an endless resource for obsessive parents. Here are five of my favorites.
It may seem obvious, but whether you have a baby on the way or a new one driving you crazy, Baby Center is a solid resource for all the conventional wisdom available to parents of small children. I particularly enjoy the site's e-mail newsletters. Weekly updates tailored to pregnant moms' due dates describe what's happening with fetal development. After the birth, newsletters give you updates about your child's development and links to articles of interest.
Common Sense Media
When I was 5-years-old, my well-intentioned father stuffed me full of king crab and Shirley Temples and then took me out to see the hot new movie, Jaws. Ten minutes and two bodies later, I'd thrown up all over the theater and developed a life-long shark phobia. If you'd rather not have something like that on your conscience, Common Sense Media can help. Filled with reviews of everything from the latest movies to video games, it helps you make educated decisions about what media you expose your kids to. The Age Appropriate slider shows you what age-range a TV show, movie, book, video game, or Website is good for, and an easy-to-scan grid explains the reasons why.
I spend an inordinate amount of time looking for library books for my kids. Rather than rifling through the stacks, we search by subject on our library's Web site and then put the books on hold. But ordering books sight unseen, based on topic or title alone, produces mixed results; sometimes we get some real duds. The National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) provides a solution (for books about science, at least). You can search by keyword, grade, and more, and every book you find is recommended by a panel of science teachers. So whether your kids are into robots, the Arctic, mammoths, or space travel, you'll find some good books for them.
When you want to focus on the fun parts of parenting, the eclectic GeekDad blog will transport you to lands filled with puzzle challenges, Lego Mindstorms robots, Dagobah playsets, and other geeky stuff.
There's nothing quite like the thrill of slowly cleaning out the attic as your youngest child outgrows that massive pile of baby gear. Depending on where you live, Craigslist's Baby & Kid Stuff section can be an excellent place to sell old kid stuff (as well as find new stuff to replace it): I once posted a bassinet on the Portland, Oregon Craigslist, and it sold in two hours. If you're looking to buy instead of sell--especially pricey and durable items like cloth diapers, baby backpacks, wooden trains, or outdoor play equipment--always check Craigslist first. A quick search might locate exactly the item you sought for half the price it would cost new.
This story, "Five Sites for Obsessive Parents" was originally published by Macworld.