By Michelle Mady
Over the past year, we have all had to use whatever resources we could put our hands on in order to keep our children, and ourselves, sane. After being home for a few weeks, I decided that those resources needed to, literally, be in my hands. So, I downloaded a few free apps to help me manage my household. I needed apps that were easy to use, quick to complete tasks, and supportive of my household. Ideally, ones that helped me to manage schedules, add new activities, and keep me organized.
Here are a few that I have found to help my sanity.
OK, full disclosure: I hate to cook, and this is actually my husband’s favorite app. He is the family cook, as my mere entrance into the kitchen causes water to burn.
With the SuperCook app, you can find recipes based on the groceries that you already have in your house. You can choose which meal or what type of meal you are looking to cook as well. For example, after putting in some of the food in your fridge, you can let the app know that you are looking to make soup for lunch. It will populate recipe options. You can also mark favorite recipes to find again later.
With five children at home, organization is not something that comes easily. I have school meetings, karate classes, girl scout meetings, gymnastics classes, doctor’s appointments and many, many other activities. I can put those things into my calendar in my phone and share it with my husband, but inevitably, one of the kids makes plans that makes me have to reschedule our entire week.
Cozi is a great organizational app that invites each of your family members to participate. My 15 year old can add his favorite lunch items to the grocery list; my husband can update doctor’s appointment reminders. If you have a nanny, they can have access as well, noting play dates and other activities. Having everyone able to update the plan for the week ensures that we are all on the same page. Well, maybe at least we are in the same book.
Having everyone able to update the plan for the week ensures that we are all on the same page. Well, maybe at least we are in the same book.
Ok, so maybe this isn’t quite an app, but it is a life saver. Leaving the park? Set a 5-minute timer. Need to be home in time for a nap? Set an alarm for when you have to leave the store. Going to the in-law’s house? The alarm can go off to give you a graceful opportunity to start heading out.
I use my clock/timer app more than any other function on my phone, including social media. I can allow myself to take a true 15-minute break, closing my bedroom door, and setting a timer. I can set alarms to remind me to check my schedule for the upcoming week. I sometimes even set a timer when I start a shower, forcing myself to stop thinking for 10 minutes. Talk about a mental health saver!
My children are learning in a fully remote model this year. Because of this, they lack some of the social time with their friends. In addition to doing what I can to support their socialization, I downloaded the Messenger Kids app for my girls. They are not quite savvy enough to email or use typical texting apps. They also do not have phones so do not call or text their friends. But I have found that Messenger Kids is a great way for them to communicate with their friends. They can send pictures and videos back and forth, as well as participate in video calls. It is also quite safe, as I can look at their conversations from my account. Now, if I can just get them to stop sending me pictures from the next room.
This app is more for entertaining the children as you are trying to get home tasks completed. You can set them up with these apps and feel secure in the safety of the content. They are watching shows, playing games and learning about skills through the app while you can fold laundry without too much help! The PBS website and app also have great resources for parents to reinforce learning or skills that the children are exposed to in the app.
Our use of technology is only growing, especially after learning how to live in a pandemic. We can use this technology to our advantage rather than get lost in it. Using these free apps helps to organize my life and I hope they bring some sanity to your homes as well.
About the author: Michelle is a mom of 5 children ranging in age from 5 to 15. As a toddler and preschool teacher, she shares experiences, activities and guidance to other parents, as both a parent and as a professional early childhood educator, at any stage of their parenting journey.
Photo credit: iStock.com/damircudic