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Smart Home

9 Google Home tips for busy parents

To make your job as a parent easier, a Google Home can help with everything from putting food on the table to putting your kid to bed.

Chris Monroe/CNET

While smart speakers might be useful for controlling a smart home or getting an update on your day, they're also equipped with the skills to make your life easier, especially for a busy parent. A Google Home smart speaker can let you quickly order dinner, help your kids with their homework and much more.

Here are nine ways a Google Home ($129.00 at Dell Home) can make parenting easier.

Give kids their own personal experience

First things first, if you're sharing a Google Home with a household, it's best to set up multiple users so you each get personalized responses, and to keep other people from meddling with your calendar events, to-dos, reminders and so on.

That includes sharing the Google Home with your kids. You can give them their very own Google accounts with Family Link (which puts adults in charge of their kids' accounts) and set up Voice Match so Google Home knows when it's interacting with them.

Help your kids with their homework

The Google Home can be a resource for your kids to get help with their homework while you cook dinner or tackle one of the other items on your ever-growing list of things to do after work.

Teach your kids how to ask the Google Home general questions, like, "OK, Google, how far away is the moon?" (Just don't teach them that it's also a pretty great calculator.) They can also try a new activity called Homework Help. All they have to say is, "OK, Google, help me with my homework."

Play educational games

Rather than reaching for a gaming console, you can play an interactive game with your kid using the Google Home. It's chock-full of games such as:

  • Math Showdown
  • Trivia Showdown
  • Space Trivia
  • Animal Trivia
  • World Foods Trivia
  • Guess The Sound

You can also choose a game like The Magic Door, in which kids can choose their own adventure and see the different outcomes from the different choices they make throughout the story.

Or if you really want to test their abilities, challenge them to a game of Voice Tic Tac Toe.

Play classic games

If you just want to have some fun instead, the Google Home has plenty of classic games to play, as well. You can try Musical Chairs, Freeze Dance or the name game. Google Home also has The Akinator, Mad Libs and tons of fun trivia games. 

Listen to stories

Earlier this week, Google rolled out over 50 new activities for kids. In addition to games and educational content, the activities include stories -- several classics and some original tales. Just say, "OK, Google, tell me a story" or, "OK, Google, play Strangest Day Ever."

Here are some of the stories you can ask for:

  • "The Tired Alien"
  • "The Not-So-Scaredy Cat"
  • "Strangest Day Ever"
  • "The Chef Who Loved Potatoes"
  • "Jungle Adventure"
  • "Story Champ"
  • "PlayKids"
  • "WebGuild Bedtime Stores"

You can also try asking for thematic stores, such as, "OK, Google, tell me a bedtime story" or, "OK, Google, tell me a summer story."

Order dinner

Some days cooking dinner just isn't possible. For those times you don't have time to prep a well-rounded meal, just use your Google Home to order pizza.

First, you'll need to link your Google and Domino's accounts in the Google Home app. Then just say, "OK, Google, talk to Domino's." You can reorder your last order or your Easy Order or build a new order from scratch.

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Remember where you put their things

Whether it's homework or an important document like a birth certificate, a Google Home can help you remember where you put your kids' stuff.

To use this feature, just say, "OK, Google, remember that the birth certificate is in the safe." Then, when you need to recall where you put something, say, "OK, Google, what did I tell you about the birth certificate?" Google Home will read what you told it to remember back to you.

You can use this for account passwords, the location of physical objects and much more.

Settle a dispute

If you've got two kids who simply can't agree on anything, Google Home can help settle a dispute. It can flip a coin and roll a die with the number of sides you specify.

To choose between two different options, have one kid pick heads or tails and say, "OK, Google, flip a coin."

For a more complex issue with more than two options or kids, have them choose a number between 1 and 10, then say, "OK, Google, roll a 10-sided die." The closest number wins. If there's a tie, have the two who tied pick two new numbers and roll again.

Help them get to sleep

Putting kids down for a nap or to sleep at night can be a time-consuming and seemingly never-ending struggle. But you can use a Google Home to help lull them to sleep with some relaxing white noise or some soothing music. The Google Home's ambient noise library consists of:

  • Babbling brook
  • Country night
  • Fireplace
  • Forest
  • Nature
  • Ocean
  • Oscillating fan
  • Outdoor
  • Rain
  • Relaxing
  • River
  • Running water
  • Thunderstorm
  • Water
  • White noise

When you use it as a noise machine, the Google Home's built-in sounds will play for one hour before automatically stopping. If you choose to play music, unfortunately, there is no sleep timer.