My husband and I both work…a lot. He commutes from Western Loudoun to inside the Beltway and I commute to Winchester. In addition to his full-time work at his regular job, Barry has his own software development projects for his company and is also the Administrative Director at Premier Birth Center, so he has work responsibilities beyond the typical 9 to 5. I’m on call 24/7/365, see clients for visits at Premier Birth Center 3 days per week, do one day per week of home visits, and am the Clinical Director for Premier Birth Center, plus I have responsibilities as a volunteer as a Board member for the North American Registry of Midwives, the Virginia Midwives Alliance, and the Midwifery Advisory Board. We still have 3 kids at home, too, including one still not able to be home unsupervised, so we have to deal with pick up at his after school program, as well. It’s a lot to juggle, to say the least. Most of the time, I think we do well, although like everyone, we have our moments of doubt.
Barry and I are techno-junkies. If there’s an app for it, we probably have it. It’s probably appropriate that we’d be into all of the technological stuff considering how we met online over 20 years ago, before a lot of people were meeting that way. I’m not much for technology for fun and games (I just don’t have time for it). I’ve never played Candy Crush or Angry Birds or gone Pokemon hunting. But, I do use the technology as a tool to make my real life a lot better, and that, to me, is a great way to use technology. Here are some of my favorite techie mom lifesavers.
If it isn’t in my calendar, it doesn’t happen. I never thought I’d be *that* person, but honestly, it has made my life so much easier. I keep track of everything in Google Calendar, and then my husband and I share our calendars with each other. For example, if one of the kids is invited to a birthday party, we add it to the calendar, along with the address and any other important details, like what we need to bring, kid’s name, allergies, etc. Then, we invite the other parent to the appointment. They’ll see the appointment in their calendar, along with a map to the party and reminders about when to leave to go there. At least, if my life changes at the last second because I’ve been called to a birth, my husband has all of the details he needs to be able to jump in and take over with our family’s schedule without a moment’s hesitation.
Not only do we keep track of kids’ events that way, but we keep track of things like tax payments, birthdays, reminders for taking medicine, upcoming travel… pretty much anything that we both need to know that has a date or time associated with it.
This keeps us sane. Barry, the kids, and I all have this app installed on our phone. We all subscribe to the same account so we can access the same lists. The Our Groceries app is a shopping list app that can be shared with multiple people. We find it to sync better than the other grocery app we used to use. We have set up lists for the various stores we go to and we don’t limit it just to groceries. It’s pretty much our listmaking app. For example, we had a list for shopping we needed to do for the birth center startup and a list for packing for vacation. On a regular basis, we generally have lists going to Costco, Harris Teeter, Target, Home Depot, etc. You can categorize the items on the lists, too, so that they sort by their location within the store (bakery, produce, dairy, etc.), which makes the shopping much faster. Whenever we want to add something to our grocery list, we just add it to the app. The kids know that if they want something at the store, we will get it if it’s on the list, so they are pretty good about adding stuff there when we run out. Rather than calling Barry on his way home from work and asking him to pick something up at the store, I add it to the list and let him know I have a few things on the list I need him to pick up. Much easier and much less likely to forget stuff.
Want to know something, pick up your phone and say, “OK Google” and then ask your question. LOVE THAT! I use that several times a day. This is, quite honestly, the most useful thing about my phone. Want to know how to go somewhere? “OK Google… take me to Premier Birth Center.” Want to know how many grams are in 9 pounds 6 oz? “OK Google… how many grams are in 9 pounds 6 oz?” Your kid wants to know who won the World Series in 1989? Google knows. Seriously awesome.
When Amazon first rolled out Prime, I hesitated joining. I just didn’t see the benefit, and paying the annual fee didn’t seem quite worth it. One day, not too long after, I got an offer of a free Prime membership, so I took advantage of it. I’ve been a loyal Prime subscriber ever since. Seriously, it’s the ultimate time-saver. When you run out of shampoo, scan the UPC and buy it with Amazon’s One-Click. Better yet, set it up on auto-ship with Prime Pantry so you never run out.
I have learned, however, that Amazon isn’t always the lowest price. You need to be careful about just reordering things without thinking. I do a lot of comparison shopping online, and while Amazon is often a great deal, I can sometimes find better deals at other retailers.
This is a really useful Chrome Plugin. If you go to the Chrome Web Store, you can download the app for your browser, or you can go to the Honey website. Honey automatically finds coupon codes for you. When you go to the checkout at most online retailers, Honey will let you know about coupon codes and will give you the option to let them try all of the various codes to see which one will give you the greatest savings. You click the button and watch the magic as Honey applies codes and your cart recalculates several times until the lowest price appears. A lot of times, there aren’t any really great codes, but every once-in-a-while, you hit the jackpot. If you’ve ever gone to Retail Me Not and tried all of their discount codes to see if one will work for you, then you know how long it can take sometimes to find a code that actually works. Honey does all of that for you.
Pinterest isn’t just for decorating ideas and for making you feel like your life is less than picture perfect. Pinterest is awesome for Christmas and birthday lists, meal ideas, and party planning, as well as over-the-top decorating ideas. Create a Pinterest board for each child for gift giving, ask your kids to pin their wish list items there, and when grandma wants to know what to get the kiddos for Christmas, invite her to their Pinterest board. Of course, this assumes grandma is on Pinterest, but that’s up to you to figure out!
Mint.com helps us keep track of where the money is going, and our bank’s online bill banking lets us deposit checks from home and pay bills without having to get stamps and write checks. Mint connects to your banking and credit card accounts, downloads your transactions, and categorizes everything for you. So awesome.
We have a lot of other apps and gadgety things we use to make our lives easier, but those are probably the most useful. We have plenty of low-tech solutions too, but with the technological help being literally at our fingertips, and with our family being so comfortable using it, technology has certainly helped our family stay more organized and has helped us to keep things running fairly smoothly despite our crazy schedules. We know these aren’t, by far, all of the apps out there that can help our lives go more smoothly, so let us know what apps you’ve found helpful!