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Being a parent means being busy. Of course, it also means lots of love, excitement and joy…but on the day to day, “busy” (or maybe even “hectic”!) is probably an accurate description. As you run from school dropoff to work meetings or errands and on to after-school activities or nightly routines, your days can feel impossibly full.
To help you gain a little more control over your family’s time, we surveyed the parents of Nurture Life and friends to learn which time management apps they rely on the most. Check out these apps for yourself to reduce all that tedious stuff and get more meaningful time together.
Family-Friendly Time Management Apps
1. Cloud-Based Family Calendars
A great (and free) way to keep track of a jam-packed schedule is Google Calendars. You can create a private calendar, invite the whole family and set different access privileges for each member, like “view-only” for the kids. You can easily share your calendar with your nanny, babysitter or extended family members to help with weekly scheduling or in case of emergency.
If you want a more dedicated (but paid) time management app, Cozi is another family calendar with some snazzy add-ons for grocery lists, meal planning and even family journaling.
2. Shareable Shopping Lists
Out of Milk and OurGroceries are two shopping list favorites of the Nurture Life team. Both apps work in the same basic way: every family member downloads the app and can add grocery items to a shared list.
You can create multiple lists for different kinds of errand runs (like Target vs. Whole Foods) and can even scan barcodes of specific products for automated entry. Since it’s cloud-based, you won’t have to worry about forgetting the grocery list at home!
Don’t want to add a specific app just for groceries? Consider using a more multi-purpose shareable note app like Evernote.
3. Family Meal Planning
Between your own commitments and your kids’ activities, it’s sometimes hard to even make it to the grocery store—let alone actually plan, prep and cook healthy meals. Try out these apps to cut down the stress of feeding your family:
- LaLa Lunchbox: This adorable app is a great way to get your kids involved with meals! Your little one chooses wholesome foods to feed the app’s hungry monster and fill their own real-life lunch box.
- Paprika: Find kid-friendly meal ideas and recipes anywhere online, automatically upload the ingredients to a shopping list, and add them to your weekly meal plan.
- MealBoard: Track what’s in your fridge, freezer and pantry and automatically generate shopping lists and meal plans using those ingredients.
Of course, we can’t mention family meal planning without bringing up Nurture Life’s ready-to-eat toddler and kids’ meals! We deliver wholesome, freshly made meals for kids at every stage and every age. You can feel good about what’s for lunch or dinner, with no more prep than a few minutes in the microwave.
4. Email Scheduling
Have you ever been sitting in the middle of a conference call, only to remember that you absolutely have to email the pediatrician by the end of the week? Boomerang for Gmail is a super-helpful email extension that lets you write emails now and schedule them for automatic sending at a later date. It also uses “nudges” to remind you to follow up on emails that haven’t received a reply.
Whenever you happen to find a few minutes alone (hello, naptime!), you can go ahead and schedule your upcoming emails: birthday messages, work memos, dentist/doctor appointments or PTA updates.
5. Task/Chore Managers
Chore apps make it easier to manage your family’s household tasks. Like good old-fashioned posters or dry-erase whiteboards, these apps clearly show who is responsible for what and when:
- Chore Pad: Customize a kid-friendly time management chart and give “stickers” for chores well done.
- Homey: Snap photos of chores to be done and award allowance for tasks completed.
- S’moresUp: Set recurring tasks with automatic reminders and compete to be the family chore leader.
Although it’s not exactly a chore manager, Visual Countdown Timer is another helpful app for completing chores. It uses pictures and music to help younger kids visualize time passing and get them excited about beating the clock.
How to Make Time Management Apps Work for Your Family
Time management apps can be incredibly helpful, but like any technology, they’re most effective when combined with real-life strategies and conversations. Below are a few extra time management tips for getting these apps to stick.
1. Talk About Time Management.
One of the best ways to approach family time management is to get your kids on board. Instead of just teaching kids how to improve time management with apps, take the time to explain the why. Even young kids can gain a good understanding of time and priorities.
Try talking to your kids about:
- Why it’s important to prioritize tasks
- How to categorize tasks based on importance
- How to estimate how long certain tasks will take (e.g., How long does brushing our teeth really take? Getting dressed for school? Making our beds?)
- The importance of communicating with each other and asking for help when necessary
2. Stick to a General Routine.
From waking up to reading at bedtime, a regular routine helps kids know what to expect each day. Your daily schedule for kids can definitely be flexible based on whatever’s going on in your lives, but try to maintain some kind of basic order to the day.
Setting the routine can be a fun exercise for the whole family, too! Talk to your kids about their preferences for morning, evening and weekend routines so they feel invested and included.
3. Help Your Kids Help Themselves.
Even the best chore app in the world won’t work if your kids don’t know how to do things on their own. To make the entire family’s routine easier, invest some time upfront teaching your kids how to accomplish tasks independently. For example, depending on their age, you might show them:
- Where the cleaning supplies are kept and how to use them
- How to make their own healthy snacks
- How to pack their own lunches
- What to do if the trash is full
- How much to feed the family dog or cat
- Where to put away their toys, art supplies or clothes
- How to use your family calendar or chore app
You can also make a few kid-friendly organization tweaks, like a low pantry shelf or a floor-level toy compartment, so that everything has its own place and is easily accessible to your kids.
For even more advice, check out our post on time management tips for parents! If you have any questions about incorporating Nurture Life meals into a more convenient family routine, contact our child nutrition experts at firstname.lastname@example.org.