9 best apps for parents and family life

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Sometimes there are so many balls in the air that I’m not just dropping them, I’m stepping on them as they land, too. There’s plenty of advice out there about just letting things go but - truthfully - it’s not that easy when you know the fallout that follows!

At any one time you are probably thinking about: what’s for supper - re-naming that left school sock - repaying a childcare favour - helping your child nail that pesky 7x8 answer - working out how many hours sleep everyone in the family got last night - the urgent need for dishwasher salt - the cat’s flea treatment schedule - how many miles of fuel you’ve got left in the tank - how to replace the soldiers on the Risk board without anyone realising they got knocked off by the baby - securing those coveted spots in holiday club - catering for match tea next Saturday when you’re away with work until Friday night - oh! and your entire paid job, too. 

We’re a tech-for-good company and we want to help, so we’ve pulled together this list of the nine most helpful and trending apps for parents. The best way to use it is to work out what are the organisational stresses in your family’s life - what tends to tip you over the edge? Then seek out the app that can help. Is it meal planning worries? Or budgeting? There’s an app for that!

All in one family organisation

Cozi

Cozi’s straightforward app tops the charts here and with the strapline ‘Stop Juggling it All’ - you know they understand! The app is available on iPhone and Android. The app gives everyone in the family a shared, colour-coded calendar, grocery list, to-do list, sends out reminder emails and it brings activities, practices and games into one place. You can even set a chore list for the children, and helpful resources including camping kit lists, books to read, recipes - everything that keeps a family ticking along.

Chores rewards system

Our Home

A fantastic app for older children with a gamified chores system that appeals to their competitive natures. Parents can give out tasks, see progress and even set jobs for individuals on a rotating basis (no more complaints about always being on dishwasher duty!). You can set ‘due dates’ for jobs and reward or penalise according to completion. You could reward them with screen time, pocket money or credits towards a family holiday - it’s totally customisable. There’s also a calendar, shared grocery lists and messaging tools. The makers claim it helps develop more responsible children, setting them up for success in adult life. We think it helps build self-esteem and ease the burden of running the house. Works across multiple devices. 

Family safety online and offline

Picniic

An added benefit of Picniic is its real-time locator tool which can show you at a glance where everyone is - excellent when children want to explore the freedoms of independence while giving you peace of mind too. There are built in features to keep them safe online too, with parental controls that promote healthy internet use with a secure no-track VPN and restrictions on internet access during homework or at bedtimes. There’s a newsfeed and calendar just for your family - great if you have a large one! Store files including medical documentation or educational records safely, assign chores and create shopping lists. Free with an option to upgrade for additional features.

School-life organisation

Classlist

Of course we highly recommend Classlist for all aspects of school organisation for busy parents. Our app helps you find and connect with other parents, chat in class or interest groups, manage your school diary, pay for tickets, volunteer and find volunteers to help at fundraising events, set up lift shares, buy and sell pre-loved stuff and even plan parties. It’s a dream for parents who need to manage their child’s social and extracurricular activities and want to be part of their school community. The app is free for schools or PTAs to set up if you’re happy to see some relevant ads in the newsfeed, or you can opt for a premium option to have it ad-free. Suggest it to your PTA Chair and we’ll run you both through a short free demo at a time to suit, so you can see how easy it is to set up for your school.

Meal planning 

Mealime

Meals with picky eaters are high-stress situations! Of course you didn’t want to raise a fussy eater but it’s very common for children to develop challenging behaviours at mealtimes. Using a family meal planner like the easy to use Mealime to bring your child into the decision-making process can really help break down those barriers. Pick your week’s meals by scrolling through a tempting list of options. The app builds your grocery shopping list - simply check off the items you already have. You can even click straight through to your favoured online supermarket to do the shop. Each meal can be cooked up in just 30 minutes.

Sports organisation

Spond

Spond is the ultimate in sports teams organisational tools. Given that most coaches are time-poor volunteers, Spond takes a lot of the hassle out of the tasks with automated reminders, sign-up lists and the ability to communicate with the entire squad or smaller lists with one click. Invite athletes to training or matches, share info, photos and polls and send private or group messages. 

Budgeting

Money Dashboard

Money is one of the most divisive topics among couples, so lay it all out on your Money Dashboard. Find out where your money is going each month, start saving and plan for the future. You can sync accounts to see your net totals, personalise how your spending is organised, (see how much you spent on coffee last month!), review how spending habits have changed over time and get balance warnings when funds are running tight. Not exactly fun but heading financial worries head on is the only way to overcome them.

Mental health

It’s great to see mental health is top of the agenda at the moment. But finding time to take care of yourself is difficult when you’re running a busy family. Headspace is the best known meditation app - there’s even one called ‘Moments away from the kids’ and we all need that from time to time. Currently offering a free trial for 14 days - if you like it you can pay £49.99 for the year. A highly rated free alternative is Insight Timer. Free guided meditations, yoga, sleep stories and live events. There are also kids meditation and sleep aids which help children wind down and relax at bedtime.

And finally - not an app but a beacon of sense in a confusing online world. Common Sense Media is a super simple website that gives you appropriate age ratings for films and TV shows. Not prissy or unrealistic, just a simple guide to help you decide which films you want to watch together.


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