Whether you are navigating the trials and tribulations of a certain pandemic or simply trying to stay on top of a busy school and work week, staying organized can make the difference between enjoying the weather or spiraling into chaos. From paying the bills, cleaning the house and feeding the kids, there is a lot that parents have to track. Here are our top picks for the best apps to help keep you calm, cool and collected. Most of them are free or very affordable! Keep reading to see them all.
Microsoft To Do
As task manager apps go, we’ve always been a fan of Wunderlist. However, it has gotten even better (and it's totally free!) with its integration with Microsoft To Do. From shopping lists to task lists, they’ve got you covered, and these lists can be shared with multiple people (or be private), sorted in folders, and they're organized by topic. Assignments, due dates and comments can be added to specific tasks or to entire lists, and real-time, instant syncing between smartphone, tablet and computer means you can access to-dos from anywhere. Plus, you can capture tasks from different Microsoft apps and sync them together in one place.
It’s time to let go of those stained index cards in that ratty-old recipe box. Savvy home cooks can now store and share family recipes with Cookpad, a nifty app that provides a social and safe environment for foodies around the world to search for and save recipes, publish recipes and food pics, and share recipes or chat with friends and families about their cooking adventures. What started as a global initiative to help make home cooking easier and more fun, Cookpad has grown into a worldwide repository of some of the best home-cooked recipes currently available in seven languages.
Cozi Family Organizer
Cozi Family Organizer already has a well-earned reputation as an indispensable organization app for busy families. With its newest release, Cozi ups the ante with improved performance and bug fixes that make it all work even better. Easy-to-use and well-designed, the app serves triple duty as a shared family calendar, digital recipe box and shopping/to-do list keeper. The free version of the app is ad-supported, but the premium subscription service ($29.99 annually) offers additional features such as contacts, birthday tracker, mobile app themes, more reminders, mobile month view, change notifications and more.
You’ve kept your family schedules in check and organized the zillions of lists you have to juggle on the daily, so why not take a moment to get your head straight? Headspace is a practical app that claims to make meditation simple. Through hundreds of guided meditations, the app aims to help improve focus, increase mindfulness, relieve anxiety, and reduce stress. The free version of Headspace provides access to The Wake Up (real-life stories and advice from experts) and Move Mode (exercises for your mind and body at the same time). Headspace Plus ($12.99 monthly or $69.99 annually) includes Sleep by Headspace (orginal sleepcasts and relaxing sounds to snooze by) as well as the entire content library.
Bills Organizer & Reminder
Track and manage all of your family’s bills in one place to help eliminate late payment fees, penalties and the dreaded low credit score. The dashboard-styled view allows you to quickly see approaching bills, and it sends payment reminders for upcoming bills before their due date. Create recurring bills with different billing periods (weekly, bi-weekly, semi-monthly, monthly, bi-monthly, quarterly etc.) and one time bills as well. The app will send payment reminders regardless of whether the app is open or closed. Secure access to the app with a passcode, touch ID or face ID of your device. Advanced bill editing capability lets you update the selected bill and all future bills as well. If you accidentally mark a bill as paid, you can easily mark it as unpaid; there are lots of other features, too. The main program allows you to manage up to five accounts for free. Add on additional unlimited accounts for $2.99.
Free for iOS.
Instead of spending all of your time creating lists and reminders to get things done, imagine an app that automates some of those basic tasks for you. That’s the beauty of IFTTT (an acronym for “if this, then that). This handy app lets you automate Internet-based tasks that range from sharing adorable vacation pics of your kids across your social channels to adjusting your connected thermostat and turning off your connected lights at home while you’re out of town. With more than 600 apps that work with IFTTT, including Twitter, Telegram, Google Drive, Twitch, Weather Underground, Gmail, Instagram, Spotify and integration with devices such as Amazon Alexa, Google Home, Nest and Philips Hue, IFTTT aims to simplify your life through smart automation.
Whether you’re organizing a week-long family vacation or a quickie weekend getaway (for the coming months) half the battle is figuring out a fun itinerary at your destination of choice. Localeur helps answer the question, “What should we do?” More than a travel guidebook, this useful app features recommendations from people in the know—aka, the locals—in many major and not-so-major U.S. cities. Through engaging videos and detailed content, a diverse community of local tastemakers provide locals-only tips on the best places to eat, drink, shop, and get outdoors (about 10,000 places are included). A must-have app for getting the inside scoop on where and how the locals eat, live, and play.
Who has time to read when the backyard or pool beckons? Stay on top of your reading with Pocket, a surprisingly useful app that lets users discover, save, and organize web articles and videos for later viewing. The premise of the app is simple enough: you see something online but you don’t have time to read or view it right away. Saving links to Pocket allows you to quickly and easily collect web content, which also can be viewed offline. The Pocket Premium subscription service ($4.99 monthly or $44.99 annually) lets you save articles to a permanent library as well as offers full-text searching.
Some days it takes all your energy to match all of the socks from the laundry. Who has time to plan meals? Mealime creates customizable meal plans and recipes personalized by your family’s unique tastes and lifestyle. Just pick a meal, and cook it in 30 minutes or less with step-by-step instructions. Healthy variations of favorites dishes include flexitarian, pescetarian, low carb, paleo, keto, vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, dairy free and more. Within the app, you can also create grocery lists that can help save money by only buying what you need for the week. The basic version is free, and Mealime Meal Planner Pro is available for $5.99 a month or $49.99 a year.
The old baby book got a huge makeover with Tinybeans. You can track and share your child’s milestones from “baby bump” to “first steps” with photos and uploaded videos with unlimited storage for free! Perfect for parents, new moms, grandparents and moms-to-be, you can invite as many people as you like. Loved ones automatically get emails when developmental milestones, family videos and baby milestones are posted. You can even create your own baby books to print too. Fun features include a calendar view, photo album, photo editing, charts, milestone tracker, diary, quotes and more.
Despite its name, men are allowed to use the FlyLadyPlus app, which helps to break down daily home chores into “zones” and gives you cleaning lists for each day along with some wit and daily musings to keep you motivated to keep your family’s chaos in check. Simply check the tasks off in the app as you go, and by the end of each month, you will have worked your way through cleaning, organizing, and decluttering your whole home! The free app includes morning, afternoon and evening routines and detailed cleaning lists. FlyLady's Agenda automatically includes your events from your calendars as well as most of your emails too.
Free for iOS.
While just finding a few minutes to go to the bathroom alone can be a chore, the idea of finding time to exercise can seem overwhelming. But can you carve out just seven minutes a day? Seven’s workouts are based on scientific studies to provide the maximum benefit in the shortest time possible. With personalized workout plans, Seven also makes sure you get the most out of your training whether you want to get fit, lose weight or get strong. Work out anywhere, anytime with no equipment needed and learn from instructors like the Drill Sergeant, Cheerleader and many more. Join the 7 Club for more workouts and guidance for $9.99/month or $59.99/year.
Awesome Note 2
While there are plenty of all-in-one personal organization apps out there, few can match the simplicity, flexibility and visual appeal of Awesome Note 2. Building off the success of its nearly-as-awesome predecessor, the latest edition of this useful app features integrated note and schedule management that lets you add photos, voice recordings and even drawings to calendar events. Syncing via iCloud provides seamless access across multiple iOS devices and sharing notes via AirDrop is a nice, ingenious function that you never knew you needed. Whether you’re planning your next summer getaway or keeping tabs on the kids’ summer camp schedules, Awesome Notes 2 makes it easy.
$2.99 for iOS.
This award-winning calendar app features natural language parsing that lets users type or dictate reminders, appointments or tasks that automatically get turned into alerts, to-dos or calendar events. Reminders are created by starting sentences with “reminder,” “to-do,” “task” or “remind me to”—then the app does the rest. It's also got a clean and easy-to-use DayTicker, calendar and a 3-day weather forecast. Fantastical Premium works on all platforms (Mac, iPhone, Apple Watch and iPad) and subscriptions are $4.99/month or $39.99/year.
$4.99 for iOS.
—Jeffrey Totey, Kipp Jarecke-Cheng
Featured image: Pixabay