How on earth did anyone parent before the internet? In particular, I want to talk about Google home hacks I used for parenting on a daily basis.
Believe me, these Google home hacks make my life so. much. easier.
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1 | Mommy Broadcast
If you’re anything like me, you have Google hubs and minis placed all around your living spaces.
I have one in the garage, one in my bathroom, one on the kitchen counter… they’re everywhere!
Take advantage of all those precisely placed hubs by using the feature I like to call “mommy’s voice saver”, or broadcast. This feature works when multiple Google devices are interconnected on the same Wi-Fi network.
This feature works much like an intercom and allows you to transmit a message to every room that contains a Google home unit. There are quite a few prompts that will broadcast your message, here are a few examples:
- “Hey Google, tell everyone dinner is ready”
- “OK Google, broadcast that it’s time to get ready for bed”
- “Hey Google, announce that Grandma is here”
You can even use your phone’s Google Assistant app to broadcast to your home’s Google hubs! I like to let everyone know I’m on my way home so they better start cleaning up. (Honestly, it rarely works but a girl can dream)
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2 | Set Quiet Hours
This one is AMAZING. I wished for this function for years before I discovered it already existed.
Have you ever asked your Google home something at night after the kids are asleep, only to have it BLAST the answer at full volume while you desperately try to silence it?
If so, then you haven’t discovered how to set up ‘Night Mode’.
Night mode dims the device’s screen and, more importantly, lowers the volume. But the best part is that you can set hours for night mode so it turns on automatically.
To activate this and other Google home hacks, just go to the Google Home app > Routines. Then hit the big “+”, set your starter for the desired time (you also have to add a voice too), and set the “action” to adjust media volume to a level 10.
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3 | Story Time
Sometimes my kids need some chill time and I’d rather have them not watch TV. Enter Google home stories.
Google has TONS of stories it can tell your child so they can listen and use their imagination. It’s great for auditory processing and comprehension!
There are plenty stories that automatically come with your Google home, many of them being on either Storynory or Google Play books.
Simply say, “Hey Google, tell me the story of _____”. Check our this list of our personal favorite Google home stories:
Google Home Stories List
- Snow White
- The Gingerbread Man
- Hansel and Gretel
- Little Red Riding Hood
- The Rat and the Elephant
- The Grasshopper and the Ants
- Goldilocks and the Three Bears
Google can even tell stories from different characters! Say, “Hey Google, tell me a Frozen story”. Then Google asks which character you’d like to hear a story about.
Then if you open up your story search to Spotify, the options are even better! I load up the story on my phone but have it play on our Google home by clicking on the speaker setting on the bottom.
Our Favorite Stories on Spotify
Honeybee Bedtime Stories
Be warned, these are truely bedtime stories. They are so soothing – soft voices, low music, mediation commands… I can’t even listen to them in the car without getting drowsy. But my kids LOVE them.
Most of them are told by Mrs. Honeybee, a few are told by Mr. Honeybee or Captain EJ (he mostly does the Superhero ones). They cover all sorts of popular topics from Roblox to Avengers and even Among Us. My personal favorite are all of the Christmas-themed stories. The average story length is 5-15 minutes.
Storyteller by Roy Dotrice
No one can re-cap a Disney movie quite like Roy Dotrice. My son LOVES these because they are extremely detailed and well done. They include Dotrice’s magical voice as a narrator mixed with audio, sound effects, and even music from the movies. Most of them are between 40-60 minutes, although Piglet’s Big Movie is a mere 12 minutes.
Storyette has a lot of the newer Disney movie stories like Frozen, Ratatouille, Cars, and The Princess and the Frog. They are significantly shorter than the ones told my Roy Dotrice, so they miss a lot of the details. That being said, they do a wonderful job of capturing the mood of the story.
As a parent, my only gripe is that the story is told over multiple tracks, so I have to make sure shuffle mode is turned off. Total story time averages 10-25 minutes.
Sleepytime Story and Lullabies by Cindy Robinson
Cindy Robinson does a wonderful job of telling mostly princess stories such as Sofia the First, Tangled, and Sleeping Beauty.
These stories are very fun, but they do have a little less energy than the earlier options. Which is a good thing! They can be chill stories in the car but also work at bedtime. Story lengths are around 15-25 minutes.
The Best Halloween Stories for Kids by The Hit Crew Kids
My kids love listening to “spooky stories” all year round! This album is by far their favorite. It includes classics like ‘The Raven’ By Edgar Allan Poe and the Headless Horseman, but also new funny ones like ‘Stop the Coffin’. But don’t worry, overall they’re not super scary. These stories are pretty short, averaging 2-10 minutes in length.
But here’s my absolute favorite story feature on Google. If you’re away from home, you can even pre-record you reading your kids a bedtime story! Check out My Storytime for the app and how it integrates with your Google home.
4 | Special Timers and Routines
Parents can use timers for all sorts of things!
We set timers to give deadlines for cleaning up toys, getting dressed, sharing toys (“you get to play for 2 minutes then your sister gets a turn”), time-outs, and more!
Simply say, “Hey Google, set a timer for [X] amount of minutes”.
Make them extra special by using some of Google home’s special animation timers.
The special timer commands put an extra picture on the screen with the countdown timer. After the time has run out, a cute animation plays along with special music (sometimes, depending on the timer). My kids love them – just a little something to put everyone in a good mood.
The command for these is “Hey Google, set a [LABEL] timer for [X] amount of minutes”.
Here are a few of the labels I’ve discovered:
- Food-related ones (‘cookies’, ‘chicken’, ‘pasta’, ‘pizza’, ‘coffee’, ‘vegetable’, ‘muffin’, ‘cake’…)
My kids love the music that plays after the ‘pasta’ one. We use that one for everything, even when it’s non-pasta related. They want me to set up a 2 minute teeth brushing timer? “Hey Google, set a pasta timer for 2 minutes”.
Similarly, you can set up a schedule on the Google home app to have certain actions performed at specific times each day. When you’re in the app, click on ‘Routines’ and then hit the large “+” to add a new routine.
For instance, on Monday-Friday at 8:00 am I have our Kitchen Google Home tell everyone it’s time to leave for the bus, turn off the lights upstairs, and play “C’mon N’ Ride It (The Train)”.
(I explain why this song in My Morning Routine Secret.)
Then they know it’s time to stop playing, put their shoes on, grab their backpacks, and head out the door.
5 | Play Games (Even Educational Ones!)
But one of my absolute favorite Google home hacks for kids are all of the games that can be played! Did you know there are TONS of kid-friendly games built in?
Here are a few that my kids and I enjoy:
Ding Dong Coconut
This game works your auditory memory. It tells you to say certain words after hearing particular sounds. At first it’s easy, but I promise it gets hard really fast! Individual games generally last less than 5 minutes, so it’s a nice one if you just have a little time to kill.
My Smart Pet
This game is a fun little ‘chose your own adventure story’. It’s a great one for beginning readers to improve their sight words and auditory comprehension. The story is long but you can pause and start at a later time where you left off.
Yes, the ‘Mad Libs’ of our childhood! You can choose whether you want a full length prompt passage or a shorter one (8-10 words). The neat thing about this game is that it teaches types of words (like noun, verb, etc). If kids get stuck they can ask Google, “what’s this?”. This is a game you can easily play in 5 minutes time.
Cinderella’s Cooking Game
This game is advertised as a “brain teaser adventure game”. Personally, I find it kind of annoying but my kids really enjoy it. It’s a story combined with very easy trivia-like questions. The overall story is long but you can pause and start at a later time where you left off.
Guess the Drawing for Kids
This one is kind of like playing Pictionary against your Google home. A drawing slowly appears while you try to guess what it is. It’s a great way to practice those visual closure processing skills! Games are super quick, less than 2 minutes.
To find even more games, try asking “Hey Google, what are games I can play with kids?”.
There you have it – those are the top 5 Google home hacks that all parents should know.
Did I miss one that you find helpful? Let me know in the comments below!