It wasn’t long ago most busy parents kept track of the entire family and all of their appointments, activities and obligations with a paper calendar and overflowing bulletin board. But even the most organized systems have a way of breaking down; overwhelmed Moms and Dads find themselves showing up to PTA meetings a day early and dropping Billy off at soccer practice two hours after it ended.
Smartphones have not only revolutionized the way we keep in touch, they’ve also made it possible to keep track of everything that’s happening in your home — while also getting dinner on the table, ensuring everyone is safe and reducing clutter. Regardless of the device you prefer, there are literally thousands of applications that put organization in the palm of your hand.
Here are some of the best:
Want to know where your family members are, whether it’s a major emergency or they are late for dinner? Install the Life 360 app, which uses the power of your smartphone’s GPS to help you keep tabs on everyone’s location. You can easily see where everyone is located on a map or receive location-based alerts. The app also allows you to locate lost or misplaced phones.
Allrecipes Dinner Spinner
Available for all platforms, this app makes mealtime a breeze. Add the ingredients you have on hand into the app, and you’ll get a list of new recipes to try. Use the virtual pantry feature to keep track of what you have in the cupboards to avoid buying more or use your phone’s camera to scan items and get ideas for what to do with them — no more buying food items that go bad because you have no idea how to cook them.
When it’s time to entertain the kids, smartphones offer a myriad of game and video options. But when everyone is engrossed in games like Flappy Bird, no one is talking to each other. Family Matters offers hundreds of questions and discussion starters designed for different environments, like road trips and restaurants, that get everyone talking and laughing with each other instead of glued to their smartphones.
Bank of Mom (iPhone)
Keeping track of your kids allowances and spending has never been easier thanks to this app. Open an “account” for each child, and add their allowance, earnings for chores and good behavior — and subtract whenever they spend money, such as when you need to buy replacement smartphones for the third time because they keep losing or breaking devices. You can also use the app to keep track of TV time and other activities, or even add interest if they ask for an advance on their allowance.
Available on all platforms, this app allows you to keep track of household expenses on the go. Not only can you enter credits and debits easily to track where your money is going, you can create charts and graphs and schedule payments — and sync the app with your home computer for detailed reports.
No matter what device you’re using, Cozikeeps you organized. You can manage the family calendar, make to-do lists and assign tasks, plan meals, make shopping lists and more. All of the features are accessible by everyone in the family, so no more calls from the store asking, “What do we need?” — it’s all right there on their smartphone. The app seamlessly integrates with any online calendar, allowing you to keep track of everyone’s schedule and even syncs with your desktop, giving you an overview of your schedule on your desktop.
ICE (In Case of Emergency)
When you’re in an emergency, every second counts. This app, available for Android and iPhone, gives first responders the information necessary to start the right treatment. Input names, emergency contacts, vital information about allergies, blood type and special conditions. If something happens, emergency personnel can react appropriately.
Do your kids bring home tons of artwork and other mementos from school? Keep it from cluttering your home with this app that combines storage, social media and organization. Simply snap a picture of the artwork, add written or voice comments,and send to friends and family, who can also make comments on it. The work is then saved on a virtual timeline, which you can access on your phone or computer, creating a fully interactive scrapbook of your kids’ life. Available on Android and iPhone.
Using the power of your smartphone, you can make your family life run more smoothly and efficiently — and have more fun along the way. If you’re having trouble keeping track of who needs to be where and when, on top of everything else you need to do, add some of these apps to your device. Soon, you’ll wonder how you managed without them.