I have never been a big fan of chaos. But after I had three babies in under three years, I attempted to make my peace with it. But it just ain’t gonna happen. I’d much rather get up 30 minutes early and have a relaxed send-off than sleep in and rush around like a lunatic getting everyone to school. So it should come as no surprise that I’m somewhat addicted to apps that help me herd the figurative cats. Or that I’m constantly browsing for new ones (apps, not cats). These are my current favorites:
I couldn’t function without a strong to-do app. I burned through a bunch of them trying to find one that did what I wanted, and I finally ended up with Swipes. It has the two features I consider must-haves: it lets you schedule tasks to pop up on a particular day and time, and it lets you rearrange items on your list by dragging (that was surprisingly hard to find).
Have you every been grocery shopping and become totally flummoxed trying to figure out if the “huge deal” is really a deal at all? Sure, you can calculate per-unit price, but that doesn’t help much if you don’t know what the unit price is at your other stores. PriceBook fixes that. I’d love it even more if it had a scanner so that you didn’t have to enter the info manually, but it’s pretty straightforward. It’s been an especially big help at Costco. Now I know that I can buy those little Hawaiian rolls my kids love for their sandwiches at Costco for about half of Target’s price, but our regular bread is cheaper at Kroger or Target. Batteries and those huge boxes of pre-packaged chips (my kids take them for lunch) are a steal at Costco, but sandwich meat…not so much. If you’re committed to not spending any more than you have to on groceries, you’ll end up with a database that is worth every second you stand in the grocery aisle and type in a few facts.
My kids were driving me nuts about their game time, always wanting to know “how much minutes” they had left in that turn or for the whole day. I thought about just lifting all restrictions and letting them fight it out…but I resisted. Timer+ saved my sanity (and probably some ER visits). You can run as many different timers as you want at the same time, so if you’ve got one kid on the computer, one on the iPod, and one on the Wii, you can keep up with all of it without having to resort to the oven and microwave timers. It also came in handy this summer when my husband was hogging my oven timer to remind him when to go move the sprinkler.
I can’t imagine not having my grocery list on my phone (although it does somewhat hinder my ability to talk and shop at the same time). The obvious benefit is that since I’m never, ever without my phone, I’m never, ever without my grocery list. The other cool thing is that I can add an item whenever it pops into my head. That’s really important, because it would be gone from my overly-porous brain long before I could find a pen and paper. There are lots of grocery apps, and I’ve used more of them than I care to admit. A lot of them, though, had a nasty habit of deleting items without my conscious permission. This one doesn’t do that.
I don’t use this one as much as I used to, because my kids have gotten to where they like to keep up with their cash. But it can make your life easier in a couple of ways: you don’t have to dig for cash when it’s time to give your kids their allowance, and you’re not constantly fielding claims of, “But, mom, I promise I have the money at home!” With iAllowance, it’s all electronic. You can set it up to make regular deposits in each child’s account, and you simply deduct the money when they buy something. It’s so much easier when they see something they like and want to know how much money they have.
These are my current “sanity-saver” favorites. I also have quite a few coupon and cost-cutting apps I’ll blog about another time. But these are my essentials. Some are free; some aren’t. (And in the interest of full disclosure, I’ll get a small commission if you buy one of the not-free ones through this site.)