Busy parents can be brilliant problem solvers — especially with the right tool at the right time. While there’s no app that can manage everything you’re up against as a busy mom, these three can help you deal with daily details like grocery shopping, scheduling and screen time.
I can turn my teenager’s apps off so she’s not on her phone 24/7.
OUT OF MILK
Out of Milk is a free app that puts shopping lists on your phone, which you’re sure to have on hand no matter when you go for groceries. You can create multiple lists — like for the grocery store, another for your favorite discount store — and then add items by using the built-in barcode scanner or by typing. Enter a few letters and common choices will appear, so you can build your list quickly.
In addition to keeping her organized, Lorrie Williams says this app makes her a faster shopper.
“One day I took the time to write down the aisles at our grocery store,” said Williams. “I created corresponding categories in Out of Milk, in the order that I shop. We get in and out quickly — which was especially important when my son was little and still great now that he’s 5.”
While shopping, Williams touches the checkmark beside each item as it goes into her cart. Those items are crossed off her list, but not gone forever. Back home, she can quickly uncheck items or add new ones, preparing her list for the next trip to the store.
Out of Milk lets you sync and share your lists with others. If your partner is out shopping from your shared list, you can make last-minute changes that will appear to both of you in real time, which makes your shopping trips even more efficient.
Cozi is another tool for sharing household information, accessible through any mobile device or computer. In addition to shopping lists, Cozi’s features include to-do lists, a color-coded family calendar, a meal-planning tool, a recipe box and a family journal. It’s a one-stop command center for busy families.
That’s how it serves Jacqueline Kiple, a full-time working mom of two, ages 11 and 14. She shares access with her husband, their summer sitter/driver and the kids themselves. Their most-used Cozi features are the to-do list and calendar.
“I enter the kids’ chore list when I travel. But I have the kids type in their own activities — date, time and place — to teach them responsibility. I’m always saying, ‘If it’s not in Cozi, I don’t know about it.’”
For families with multiple calendars (maybe Dad uses Google Calendar or Grandma wants to know the soccer schedule), Cozi allows calendar sharing and importing, permitting an even broader view of the whole family’s activities and commitments.
OurPact teaches responsibility in a different way: by limiting kids’ access to apps and the internet on mobile devices. The app’s creators encourage families to talk about mobile habits and agree on healthy boundaries. The goal is to teach kids to use technology in healthy ways by following reasonable schedules and avoiding inappropriate content. Parents set the schedule and can monitor use. When intervention is necessary, Mom or Dad can turn off access with a simple click, even at a distance.
OurPact is the parental control app Misty Alvis uses to manage her daughters’ screen time.
“I can turn my teenager’s apps off so she’s not on her phone 24/7,” said Alvis. “You can set a schedule for when the apps go on and off, but you can also override the schedule. When we don't know where the teenager is in the house, we turn the apps off. Like magic, she appears!”
If you’re looking for more ways to stay organized at home, search your favorite app store for helpful tools. With more than 1.5 million apps on the market, you’re bound to find something that can help.