The older my kids get, the more I find myself asking how my mom did it… 3 kids less than 5 years apart, working full time, going to graduate school at night, and all without the internet, Pinterest, or even a cell phone, not to mention a smart phone. While smart phones today get a lot of flack for ruining social interaction, doubling restaurant wait times, and damaging our children with too much screen time, they sure make my life run a heck of a lot smoother. Just this morning alone, I RSVP’d to a birthday party, added the party to my calendar, set a reminder to buy the gift, started my grocery list, refilled my pre-natal vitamins, FaceTimed my little sister in Texas with the girls, brainstormed notes for my current blog post and saved Big M’s latest preschool project to her art portfolio for posterity… and all from the palm of my hand before 9AM! So what apps do I equip my iPhone with to prevent my life from disintegrating into total mayhem? Check out my 20+ Favorite Apps for Parents!
20+ Favorite Apps for Parents
I discovered how helpful apps could be with parenting while I was pregnant with the What to Expect app, and things have snowballed from there…
Pregnancy and Infancy
Babycenter has several apps – I like My Pregnancy and My Baby. You do have to set up an account and include your due date/children’s birth dates for the features to work properly. My first pregnancy, I read My Pregnancy daily, tracking fetal development, how big my baby was and making sure I was getting everything ready that I needed to be. Now, with #3, I check it when people ask me how far along I am because without it, I wouldn’t remember!
My Baby is great for tracking development after your baby is born. You can even sign up for weekly or monthly emails on age-appropriate information for your child. I still get emails for Big M at 3.5, and I can’t tell you how often the parenting tips or development stage is spot on.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t even own a watch with a second hand… when you go to your birthing class, you will learn all about timing your contractions: the duration, and the length between contractions. This app does it all for you. All you have to do is press start when it starts, and stop when it stops. It will chart them for you, and you can even email them to your OB/midwife when you think it’s time. I used it with both labors, and I’m sure I will use it again!
The first weeks home with a newborn are some of the toughest days you will face – you are emotionally and physically exhausted, your hormones are all over the place. You will likely have some physical discomfort as well. And you will be super sleep-deprived on top of it all. Meanwhile, you are supposed to keep track of things like feedings (did the baby nurse 1 hour or 3 hours ago, from the left side or the right?), sleep and bowel movements, all while taking care of this beautiful little bundle of joy.
When everyday feels like groundhog day, all your actions start to blur together. Enter BabyConnect. You can use it to track as much or as little as you like – from feedings (how long did they nurse, from what side; if a bottle, how many ounces did they drink; if pumping, which side and how many ounces), to diapers (when, what kind), to sleep, and doctor visits. I still use it to keep track of the girls vaccines and their measurements at each check-up. If you have a nanny or a sitter, they can enter information from their device and share it with you as well.
With the second baby, I was not as obsessive with tracking everything in BabyConnect as I was with my first… but I did reference MomsOnCall daily, especially in the first year. Moms On Call is a series of books written by two pediatric nurses, who have eight kids between them, including 2 sets of twins. It is practical advice based on hands on experience with raising children and supporting other moms do the same. The books are written to cover various stages – the Toddler edition offers recommended combined routines for a Toddler with a newborn. The app makes these recommended schedules easily accessible and adjustable – enter the age of your baby and/or toddler, and it pulls up the right routine for you, along with tips and troubleshooting advice for each part of the day.
Saving Special Moments
The beautiful thing about smart phones is we now all have a camera at arms-length for every imaginable Kodak moment… and we capture them all. But after sharing the best with friends and family on Facebook or Instagram, then what?
Chatbooks allows you to turn all your photos into a 60-page book for just $6 (they can be longer or shorter too). You can add captions, select each photo and opt to use your Instagram feed. Go on a family vacation with the grandparents and you have pictures on 4 different phones? You can build a vacation book and invite them all to contribute. I have been compiling a Chatbook of all the photos of our new house, from wooded lot with no road to completion!
Around 18 months of age, your child will begin to craft – first, they want to color… ALL the time. Then they want to paint. At 3.5, Big M loves more complex crafts and requests daily afternoon “projects.” Add the paintings and crafts she makes at preschool into the mix, and if I kept it all, our house would look like a Hoarders episode. I would love to keep most of it, but hubby can’t stand paper and clutter. Artkive is the perfect compromise. I take a picture of the creations I want to preserve, be they paper or 3-dimensional, and I upload it to Artkive. I can tag it with the child’s name, age, date, include a title, and it adds it to their portfolio. I can share the creations with a circle of family or friends, post it to Facebook, and best of all, at some point, I can have them all printed into a coffee-table style book. Love, love, love Artkive!
Organization and Efficiency
Confession – I am one of those Pinterest moms people love to hate… but Pinterest is so much more than just a source for picture perfect birthday parties and kids’ activities (though I love all of those too!). Pinterest has replaced my cookbooks – I no longer tear recipes out of Martha Stewart Living or print them off of Epicurious. I pin them to my food boards, organized by holiday or meal, and search for them when I want them.
While building our house, I basically created our kitchen, bathrooms, dining room and family rooms from the 100s of pins on Pinterest I had been collecting for years. When the builder wanted a picture, I sent him the pin. When the designers on staff at the furniture store wanted a sense of my style preferences and taste, I invited them to my Dining Room board.
Hate all you want… but I LOVE Pinterest more every day. It gives me great ideas across a range of content areas, helps me find bloggers I enjoy following that I would never have encountered otherwise, and most of all, it helps me share all my content with all of you!
How many of your parents used to, or still do, read the newspaper everyday? RSS readers are the user-customized newspaper of the modern day. Every content producer out there (online newspapers, magazines, bloggers, etc.) publishes an RSS feed alongside their site. It’s a standardized content format that allows for easy syndication across sites. RSS readers help aggregate these feeds into a user-friendly format for you, the reader. Feedly is an awesome new RSS reader. Enter your favorite sites, organize them by category, and when you wake up in the morning, instead of checking in on 5 different news sites and checking 10 different Facebook pages, pull up Feedly and see all the headlines from the sources you want to follow in one place. Be sure to follow PlaygroundParkbench!
After my first trip to the grocery store with an infant and a toddler in a snowstorm, I gave up going to the grocery store. Now, Peapod delivers groceries to my house once every two weeks. Better still, the app lets me easily access all my past purchases to fill my shopping cart every time. And best of all, as I run out of things like spices or foil and all the other things you don’t buy every week and never remember to restock until you go to use it and realize it’s empty again, I can add them to my cart right away and it saves them until I place my next order. Grocery shopping now consists of me finalizing my cart from my phone in about 15 minutes, clicking purchase, and then putting them all away after the delivery guy carries all the bags into my kitchen. Worth every cent of the delivery charge!
Thanks to Paperless Post, I will never order, address and stamp invitations again. I will never keep track of RSVPs across email, text message and voicemails either. I now save time and MONEY using Paperless Post. With countless cute templates, you can send invitations for anything and everything: kids birthday parties, grown up surprise parties, holiday parties, housewarmings, grand openings, and more. It will track RSVPs for you, keep a headcount, and you can send updates and reminders to all your guests. It’s great for guests too, as they can instantly add the event to their calendars. I even used it to send out our Christmas cards this year, virtually, and literally saved well over $200! Emily Post may be rolling over in her grave, but I will never send another paper invite again.
Health and Wellness
Every time you go to the OB/GYN for your annual visit, the first question they ask is, “When was your last period?” Before kids, I never had a problem answering this – post kids, my brain has enough to keep track of without trying to remember when Aunt Flo paid her last visit when I can barely remember what I ate for breakfast today. My Days is also great for fertility tracking. If you are trying to get pregnant (or avoid it), My Days will highlight your fertile days. You can also track every potential related detail you can think of: start and end of your period, daily Basal body temperature, make notes and more.
5K Runner and MapMyRun
Let me start by saying, I have never been a runner – I did it in high school for basketball under extreme duress because our coach made us do it. Running a mile for time was my least favorite thing ever. Post Lil’ M, I realized my days of making it to yoga or fitness classes were pretty much over, and if I wanted to exercise regularly, I had to find a way to do it with both kids in tow. Attempts at yoga at home were almost laughable, with both kids trying to climb me in downward dog or tree pose. So, I pulled out the double stroller and hit the beach boardwalk by my house and started running. 5K Runner leads you through workouts 3x a week that build you from walking to running a 5K. MapMyRun (or walk or bike) maps your trail, tracking your intervals and distances. It’s a great way to track your progress, and it will show you other routes people in your area use for specific distances, which is kind of cool if you are training for longer distances. Both also let you stream your music, from whatever source you choose, while they operate, which is great for running.
Other Apps I Use Daily
In addition to all of the above, I use the list below (many of which are built-in apps standard to iPhone) at least daily, if not multiples times a day.
- Mail – I can check and send email from my personal Gmail and PGPB account all in one place
- Calendar – everything goes in my calendar. School schedule, fundraising events, dance class, gym class, doctors appointments, haircuts, birthday parties, meetings with the builder, meetings with the realtor, open houses, HOA board meetings, and that’s just everything in the calendar for the last 10 days. I don’t know how people function without using their calendar
- Dropbox – I use this to easily share files across computers at our house, access them readily from my phone, and share files when I occasionally still consult for my old boss.
- Google Maps – Google, Inc. – never get lost. Enough said.
- The Weather Channel – this time of year, it’s a high of 50 one day, and 20 the next. Can’t dress the kids in the morning without consulting The Weather Channel
- Online banking app – depending on your bank of choice, you pretty much never have to actually go to the bank again ever. I can check my accounts, move money from checking to savings, deposit checks, transfer money to friends or family for shared gifts or expenses all from my phone. If only the phone could give me money like an ATM
- Dunkin’ Donuts – I have a DD app with a built-in gift card that automatically reloads. I pay at the drive-thru for my daily coffee with my phone 🙂
What apps can’t you live without? Did we miss one of your favorites? Be sure to share it with us! For more great app recommendations, be sure to follow our Pinterest board, iPad Apps.