Change can be scary. Especially once kids become a part of the equation. So color me cautious when talk of artificial intelligence (AI) and tools like ChatGPT come up in conversation. But as much as some days I’d like to go back to when an AOL dial tone meant forthcoming chats with friends on AIM and Facetime seemed like a futuristic dream, the reality is this new technology is here to stay. The world is constantly evolving, which means we need to adapt to grow with it. This mindset is what led me to my recent foray into ChatGPT.
What is ChatGPT?
ChatGPT, which stands for Chat Generative Pre-trained Transformer, is a language model-based chatbot launched on November 30, 2022, by Open AI, an AI research and deployment company. The tool was developed to interact with users in a conversational way to generate human-like text based on context, like the information you input and past conversations. Like a chatbot you might find on a company’s website, you can input a prompt into ChatGPT and the tool will scrape the internet to formulate an appropriate response. So while Googling a topic returns a list of applicable websites and articles, ChatGPT will review those search results and compile them into one concise response.
ChatGPT Hacks for Parents
While you might think a tool like ChatGPT is only relevant to professionals in the working world, think again. ChatGPT can be used to hack your life as a parent. I don’t need to tell you that, as parents, we’re constantly pressed for time and are tasked with balancing priorities. As a working mom of a 3-year-old, I’m always searching for ways to create efficiencies to make my weeks and those sometimes endlessly long weekends more productive, restful, and fun. I was initially skeptical, but after experimenting with the platform, I changed my tune. ChatGPT may be the answer we’ve been looking for as parents to work smarter, not harder. Don’t believe me?
Here’s how you can use ChatGPT to hack your life:
1. Create Meal Plans and Shopping Lists
Let me tell you, as a parent who despises planning for meals, this is a game changer. I entered the prompt, “create a weekly gluten-free meal plan for a family of three with a toddler with a shopping list,” and was met with seven days of breakfast, lunch, and dinner ideas with a corresponding shopping list. I then followed up the response with, “provide recipes for each of the meals,” and was met with a high-level overview of the recipes. No need to spend time meal planning when you can use ChatGPT to simplify the process.
2. Get Ideas for a Rainy Day
The days or weekends when we’re cooped up inside with kids can be endless. We can scour every corner of our brains for fun ideas to keep our kids occupied and still come up short. ChatGPT can help you get creative in planning things to do with your kids when you need a little help. I input the prompt, “creative things to do with kids indoors on a rainy day,” and received a list of fifteen ideas. You can tailor your input to get ideas based on your specific situation.
3. Elevate Storytime
Kids love stories, but even the most creative parents can encounter writer’s block when asked to come up with a fun bedtime story. I asked ChatGPT to create a story centered around my child, using his name and his interests, and was amazed by the results. My son can attest that he loved this one after I read him the first story ChatGPT shared. We even used it as a way to bond. I asked my son what he wanted to hear a story about, and we customized our input into the tool to return his desired results. Once we realized what the tool could do, we began to get more creative in our requests. Here’s one of the inputs we used, “write a bedtime story about a three-year-old boy named Graham who loves Spiderman and dinosaurs.”
4. Starting a Budget
If you’re looking to create a budget or reevaluate how you spend your money, you can use ChatGPT to give you some ideas. As personal finance is extremely personal to your specific circumstances, it’s crucial to take ChatGPT’s responses with a grain of salt and edit them as appropriate for you. That being said, you can use the tool to offer suggestions on beginning a budget or reworking it to make it work for you. I asked ChatGPT, “how should a family of four budget each month with an annual income of 75,000,” and it returned a suggested breakdown of spending. Could I implement the suggestions without customizing them for my family? Absolutely not. But it’s helpful to get your wheels spinning on how to revamp your finances.
5. Write Email Responses
Emails have become a part of our everyday lives. Whether we’re writing them at work or in our personal lives, there’s no escaping it. When you’ve had busy days working or caring for kids, the last thing you want to do sometimes is put thought into responding to emails or sending new ones, like reaching out about your local baseball program. Let ChatGPT help you. The response you receive is only as good as the information you put in, but I asked the tool to, “help me write an email asking about my local youth baseball programs for age five including times and cost,” and within seconds, I received an email I could then review and customize. ChatGPT can be your new resource to save you time and mental energy writing and responding to emails.
6. Planning Your Next Event, Birthday Party, or Vacation
Similar to how you can use ChaGPT to help you plan meals, it can also help you plan your next event, birthday party, or vacation. I asked ChatGPT to, “plan a four-day three-night vacation for a family of three in Florida with a $2,000 budget,” and was met with results I could edit to meet my family’s needs. This same approach can be used to help plan kids’ birthday parties or other events. Again, the results likely can’t be implemented at face value, but they’re a good jumping-off point to begin your planning process.
7. Organizing Your Schedule and Life
While ChatGPT can’t allow us to be in two places at once or add more time into our day, it can assist with time management and organization. You can use the tool to create a schedule to help you plan your calendar. I entered the prompt, “How should a working mom plan her day to incorporate work, family, and wellness with times,” and received a templated schedule I could customize to my needs. I also asked it to, “create a back to school to do list for a first grader” and ChatGPT returned a checklist of to-do items. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or stuck trying to get everything done, use the tool to help take on some of the mental load of planning and organizing.
8. Assist with School Work
For those parents with school-aged children, you might wonder how ChatGPT factors in with learning and homework. While there’s no substitute for doing the work and actually learning specific topics, it can aid in creating efficiencies for your child just like it can for you. For example, I fed ChatGPT the prompt, “Write a brief synopsis on the book The Great Gatsby with key highlights in a bulleted list,” and was met with a great overview.
There might be some concern over kids using the tool to write papers or solve problems. While this is a valid concern, I consider ChatGPT to be a resource versus a replacement for school work. Just like students can use CliffNotes or Wikipedia to gain an understanding of a topic, it’s not the end all be all. You still need to do your research to understand the topic and complete your assignments. ChatGPT shouldn’t be used to write entire papers or projects, as you run the risk of plagiarism and the fact that the information could be incorrect. The best way to teach your children how to use ChatGPT is to get in and play with it yourself. The more you know, the more you can educate your children on what is and is not appropriate.
Keep in mind the free version of ChatGPT “has limited knowledge of the world and events after 2021,” according to Open AI, and “may also occasionally produce harmful instructions or biased content…and occasionally make up facts.” So while ChatGPT can share creative ideas and create efficiencies in your day-to-day life, it’s essential not to take the information at face value.
At the end of the day, ChatGPT is a tool created by artificial intelligence. It’s not a human with reasoning and logic. Remember to validate the information the tool provides, tailor it as appropriate, and do your research where applicable. We can use ChatGPT to be more productive and organized parents, but it’s not a substitute for our parental intuition, real-life connection, and common sense.