A couple of weeks ago, I took the plunge and purchased an iPad. I’m far from what I would call a gadget geek, but given my husband’s traveling schedule and my new job as “homeschool educator,” I figured that it would come in handy for our family. And since finally getting it set up last week, I can assure you that it’s already been worth the big jump in my phone bill.

As a busy mom of four, I wanted to pass along a few quick tips especially keeping newbie iPad parents in mind.

Cool Mom Picks Pick of the Year 20101. Holy Fingerprints, Batman!

It took all of four seconds for me to gasp at the sight of my fingerprint riddled screen, and that was only after one of my kids–the one with the clean hands–used it. The screen has been made to repel oil, which means be prepared for fingerprints to show up much more prominently than on an iPhone. The good news is that you don’t need anything fancy to wash them off; a slightly damp cloth in a circular motion will do the trick.

You can always get a screen protector too. Skip the $1 versions and protect your investment; Zagg Invisible Shield is recommended by the geniuses at CNET, and who am I to disagree.

speck ipad case

2. Get a case

While I actually don’t currently have a case on my iPhone 4 (I know, I like to live dangerously), I can’t imagine going one minute without a case on the iPad. Unless you are incredibly diligent about putting it far out of reach of little hands, and have absolutely no hard floors in your house where it could crash, then I would make the investment. I’m digging the Speck Candyshell iPad case (shown) that I’ve got on it right now, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be investing in a netbook sleeve or something similar when I venture out of the house with it.

3. Be Prepared for Fights

I’m not sure if it’s because the only one who really plays video games around our house is my 6-year-old, but since downloading a variety of apps for all three of my kids, from 2-6, I’ve had to break up a ton of fights over who gets to play what and when. Granted, it’s been an excellent lesson in taking turns, however, arm yourself with patience, and if you’re super organized, a playing schedule, so you can maintain some sanity.

If any of you iPad owners have tips to share or those of you who are thinking of purchasing one have questions, feel free to leave them in the comments!