How do we call and text them?
Well, let’s dive in …
I’d looked into adding them to our plan, but NO WAY way was I paying $50 a month, per kid. I already feel like my husband and I pay way too much for our cell phone plans. Adding two more humans to the mix? Um, no. Definitely not.
Our kids have had their “own” iPhones as long as they can remember, but only because they get our hand-me-downs when we’re done with them. (We hang onto our phones for a long time, so they’re always *really* old — and usually somewhat broken — once our kids get them.)
They started playing games on these ancient iPhones when they were little, and it was fun to see them iMessage us strings of colourful emojis and basic phrases. Sometimes it actually came in handy, too, if they got onto the Wi-Fi at a friends’ house and could send us a quick note.
When Covid struck and they were separated from their friends and classmates, Kids Messenger became a lifeline as they set up video chats and sent messages.
They’re spending more time away from us, out on their own or with friends, and I wanted to be able to stay in contact with them.
What to do, what to do?
If you know me in real life or on social, you can see where this is going! 😀
Back in January, I left my long-time gig in the newspaper industry and started working in marketing and communications for an Ottawa communications company called AffinityClick. Yup, I’m in the app business now, and I’m here to tell you that there IS an app for that. (Does anyone else remember those early Apple commercials?)
Just days into my new position, I realized our two apps — Hushed and aloSIM — would be the perfect solution(s) to the I-Need-To-Reach-My-Kids problem.
You can buy temporary phone numbers from Hushed for a week, a month, etc. if you don’t want to keep them for very long. But I used a super-special Hushed discount offer to score lifetime phone numbers (they never expire as long as you use them) for $25 each — one for our son, and one for our daughter.
I got to choose their phone numbers from a huge list, and it took less than a minute to get the apps organized on their hand-me-down iPhones.
Oh, and I also “gifted” them their Hushed phone numbers on their birthdays, when they each got their latest hand-me-down iPhone. Just as they were about to tear off the wrapping paper, I had someone call their new phone number so the still-wrapped gift started ringing.
It was pretty adorable, I must say.
Except I wrapped their old iPhones in the boxes my husband and I had saved from our new iPhones, and there was a funny moment when our daughter squealed “An iPhone 13?!” and I had to say, “Um, no — that’s just the box.”
(Seriously, does she think she’s getting the same phone as me? She’s TEN! She drops everything!)
Our kids love having their own Hushed phone numbers, and I couldn’t beat the price. Paying $25 ONCE for a number that will never expire (and calling/texting credits that will regenerate every year) instead of paying $50 a month for years and years?! Amazing!
Since everyone in our immediate family has iPhones, they usually stick to iMessage (leaving their Hushed credits untouched). But it’s been really handy to be able to call them on their Hushed number when I need to reach them. (iMessages are easy to miss, but you don’t miss a ringing phone.)
Hushed is also useful when they pass their phone to a friend so they can call their parents. It doesn’t matter if they’re calling an iPhone, an Android phone, or a landline — it will call them all.
Hushed works perfectly over Wi-Fi, and thankfully it’s pretty easy to hook onto a Wi-Fi network these days. Our kids’ school lets them log into the Wi-Fi using their school IDs, our daughter’s dance studio has Wi-Fi available for students and staff, and their friends are all familiar with sharing their household’s Wi-Fi password with guests. (We keep ours in a pretty frame.)
As long as your child’s phone supports eSIM, you can add prepaid data packages to your device whenever you want them. Since we just handed down our iPhone XRs to our kids, they were on the list of eSIM-compatible devices and could get aloSIM data.
This is VERY helpful because it means we don’t need to pay for a monthly cell phone package that gives them data. Our kids have their Hushed phone numbers for calling and texting, and if we want to add a short-term data package to their phone for a particular reason, we can do that in under two minutes.
Of course, sometimes you don’t know what the Wi-Fi situation will be until your kid is somewhere with no way to reach you, but usually you can scope that out in advance. If I know the Wi-Fi is going to be an issue and I’ll want to reach one of the kids, I’m happy to pay a few bucks, here and there, for the piece of mind that comes with knowing I can reach them anywhere, anytime.
While it would be convenient for them to have aloSIM data all the time, that would end up costing about the same as a monthly phone plan, so it’s just not worth it at this point.
We’re pretty good about thinking ahead to where the kids will be, and if there’s a reason we feel they’d benefit from data, I’ll open the aloSIM app on their hand-me-down iPhone and buy them a 1GB package. Then they’ll have sweet, sweet data flowing through their device for seven full days.
And I’ll know that anytime I want to call them, text them, iMessage them, FaceTime them, etc. they will be able to ANSWER ME IMMEDIATELY. (That’s the deal. Answer Mom, always, if you want to keep getting data occasionally.)
So there you have it! If you have a tween you’d like to reach on an old hand-me-down phone, this is a really cheap, effective way to stay in touch with them.
While it definitely feels like one of those they’re-growing-up-so-fast moments to be able to call and text your kids on their own phone, it’s pretty sweet when you can text them from bed to please flip on your tea kettle.