By Bev Bachel
Create a shared family calendar. Book a caregiver. Find a playdate. Coordinate a carpool.
These simple activities can sometimes require more time and energy than a full day at the office. And the moment you think you have everything arranged? Someone calls to cancel an appointment, and you’re back to square one.
But now, thanks to a variety of user-friendly apps, I’ve found that planning is no longer the arduous task it once was. Here are scheduling tools that my friends and I rely on to help make the most of our time and our schedules.
Cozi (Free) A calendar on overdrive, this app and website helps busy families plan and manage schedules. Cozi also makes it easy to create, organize and share shopping and to-do lists, save recipes, capture memories, and more—all in one easy-to-access spot. Plus, it works on any computer, phone or tablet. No wonder it was a 2015 Mom’s Choice Gold Award winner.
Little Peanut on the Go (Free, but requires a one-time purchase of $3.99 to enable sharing of schedules)
Developed by a new mom overwhelmed by packing lists and care schedules, this app is designed for planning and keeping track of schedules when parents or children are away from home. The app enables parents to develop and share care schedules, and check in with caregivers while away. The app also makes it easy for caregivers to post updates and upload photos. Kim Zielinski, a Cincinnati mom of two and founder of the travel agency, Intellego Travel, loves the peace of mind Little Peanut on the Go provides: “It’s like having a comprehensive reference manual for my children’s caregivers,” she says.
Meetup (App is free, but dues may be charged by the specific Meetup)
Want to go to a backyard playdate potluck? Visit the Lake Elmo Park Reserve? Watch Bill the Juggler, perform? These are just a few of the playdates available to the more than 150 moms that make up the St. Paul Area Moms Meetup group. One of many such groups across the country (and around the world), the group schedules and promotes a variety of baby, toddler and preschooler events. “Meetup is especially great for moms looking for playdates and other activities,” says Christina Owen, a member of the group and a mom of three. “I moved to Minnesota four years ago and joined right away. The way Meetup is set up, it’s easy to put an event on the calendar and have folks RSVP. You can cap it to a certain number of people, and allow people to invite guests or not. You can even charge for events that need to be paid for up front.”
Zubie (Less than $100 per year, which includes the app, a GPS device, wireless connectivity and data storage)
If you’re like most families with kids, you spend a lot of time planning, driving, waiting for, and worrying about, the carpool. Zubie can help. This app, which works in conjunction with a “key” mounted under the dash of your vehicle, sends automatic alerts whenever the vehicle arrives at, or departs from, common locations such as home, school or practice. Zubie also makes it easy to create groups so you can share locations and coordinate rides.
Freelance writer Bev Bachel lives in Minneapolis and uses her phone to talk, text and email friends and family around the world. She’s the author of What Do You Really Want? How to Set a Goal and Go For It!