The tech mom’s guide to parenting: 5 apps to help with the back to school season
Hello parents, welcome back to fall. Vacations are memories, the kids are back to school, and it’s time to jump back into hectic school year parenting. For a working parent like me, getting back into the swing of normal work weeks, schedules, back-to-school activities and traffic is a little bit of a struggle. Every day seems to have more than its fair share of hiccups, mishaps, and parenting stress. The 7am no-milk-in-the-fridge break down leads to getting caught in the major traffic snarl up, which leads to dropping off tear- and breakfast-stained kids, and ending up at my desk with only half my make up on and a sippy cup full of juice instead of my coffee. Oh, the fun of back-to-school parenting!
Back to school the tech mom’s way
One of the great things about being a mom who loves all things technology is, I can literally always find an app to make my day better. Here are five of my favorite apps to get back on track to normal-life bliss and crazy-schedule zen:
(for iPhone, iPad, Android)
I usually do my shopping with my toddler in tow, an excited and non-stop talker with eight arms that reach in every direction, grabbing items off the shelf as well as shoppers who are unfortunate enough to happen by.
This constant distraction of chatting, replacing items on the shelf and holding hands makes GroceryIQ my all time favorite grocery app. Not only does it help me remember what I need by allowing me to create an easy to read (and check off) shopping list, it also stores the prices of items I’ve added to the database and keeps a running total as I shop. This way I can estimate my total before I get to the check out counter and easily comparison shop. It also groups the items into common aisles, so I can easily navigate the store in half my usual time by only going down the aisles that hold my shopping list items.
Another awesome feature is the ability to sync online and with app connections between phones. This makes it ten times easier to divide and conquer the shopping list. The list is right on the phone, so the spouse won’t have any excuse not to grab the milk on their way home. Finally, for those couponing kind of parents, the app links to coupons.com. You can easily browse, “clip,” and print coupons for items on your list. (The app only works with HP printers currently, however, so it’s a little restrictive.)
(for Google Play and iPhone)
On the days when things have simply been too stressful for me to brave the after-work-shopping circus, Instacart is my hero. This beautiful online grocery delivery service is not only convenient, but fairly affordable. Particularly because things don’t magically appear in my virtual cart as they would in the store with my toddler in tow (or my own after-work-hangry grab for chocolate). The prices can vary from usual store prices, but not a lot in my experience. Additionally, they can deliver as quickly as an hour, most of the time. They are available from 9am-midnight, and you can view the available delivery times and rates from the checkout window.
Once you’re all signed up online, you can grab the Instacart app and get shopping. Instacart offers shopping services at local grocery stores. You can add groceries to you cart via the app, checkout, and pay. It aggregates your receipts and you’ll get text updates on the status of your order and delivery. They do all the work and then deliver everything to your door, making you supermom with milk in the fridge in the morning.
Without my phone calendar and reminders I’d be a mess (well, a much bigger mess). They help me get to meetings on time, make sure daycare has diapers for my toddler, and the light bill gets paid on time.
This gorgeous little app is the next best thing to having a second brain. At first glance it seems like a beautiful version of a normal scheduling app. It does what a lot of apps do: it aggregates your calendar and to-do items into one convenient place. What makes Up Next particularly amazing is that way it helps you decide what to do, and when. The “brain” of this app evaluates your to-dos, calendar, as well as locations and times to suggest the order in which you should complete your tasks based on where you are and what time it is. You can’t get better than that without a personal assistant.
(for iPhone, Android)
The worst part of my mad morning dash to drop offs and work is the traffic. There’s nothing worse than choosing to stay on the freeway thinking, “it’ll be faster if I avoid the stop lights” only to discover that just over the hill is a massive roadblock of what my mother would call “looky-lous” rubbernecking at the accident that is blocking two-and-a-half of the three available lanes.
Beat the Traffic is the simplest way to avoid the mess, or at least be mentally prepared if you can’t avoid it. You can set your usual routes (called Trips) and then get alerts for delays along your routes. It also gives you the option to take a “Smart Route” if your route is delayed. I love this app because I can set Trips for multiple stops and directions (i.e. from home to daycare, then from daycare to work.) This is incredibly helpful for school pickups, daycare, work, regularly scheduled appointments, and more. The alerts can be set to tell you when there’s a delay along your route in time increments of 10-60 minutes. Best of all, though, is the ability to set time windows for the alerts. That way I’m not getting awakened by traffic delay notifications at midnight when they close the highway for roadwork.
(for iPhone, Android)
In the midst of the harrowing, headlong, sprint through my day, mama needs a break. Hoping not to end up in a straight jacket, or having a stress-induced heart attack, I’ve spent a lot of time searching for just the right meditation app that doesn’t make me giggle at the monotonously soothing way they talk.
Calm is tech meditation perfection. The interface is really beautiful, both on their website and in the app. There are a few basic (free) calming meditation options that can be set from 2-20 minutes. Additionally the app offers specific meditations for things like anxiety, creativity, and sleep, as part of their $9.99/year subscription service. It’s probably the best ten bucks you’ll spend all year.
Now you know the secret of oh-so-perfect parenting; it’s an elaborate façade of apps that do all the hard stuff for you. All you have to do this back to school season is make sure you grab your coffee on the way out the door and don’t stress the little things, like your toddler’s seizure-inducing outfit.
What are your favorite apps that make parenting a teeny bit easier? Please share!