For me, the year starts when my kids head back to school. That's when I take the time to make sure I have all of my family's schedules coordinated, put everyone's health and other vital information at my fingertips and establish the new school-year routine. Here are apps I recommend to help you get your family organized.
One of my longtime favorites is Cozi, a free service that keeps the family calendar, shopping lists, to do lists and meal plans all in one place. What attracted me to Cozi was its ability to sync with outside calendar programs, like Outlook and iCals (Google and Yahoo). I can see everyone's schedule at a glance, send reminders and share a shopping list with my husband. You can access Cozi online or with the Cozi app for iPhone, Android or BlackBerry.
If you have a baby, Baby Connect ($4.99 on iTunes, Google Play and Amazon Appstore) makes handing off care between parents or a parent and caregiver much easier. The app tracks the last time the baby was fed and changed, how long baby slept, the baby's mood, body temperature readings when baby is sick and any medicine baby is taking. Best of all, you can get notifications from the app on your phone any time an entry is made.
Older kids can benefit from an app that tracks chores. You Rule Chores ($3.99 on iTunes) makes it easy to set up a chores and rewards list. Throughout the day, kids can check off their chores and earn coins to gain rewards. Kids can choose from a great selection of avatars and level them up with new powers and gadgets as they complete chores. A quick glance at the opening screen of the app shows how many chores are left for each child, making it into a competition to see who gets them all done first. A good choice for Android is iRewardChart ($3.99 on Google Play and iTunes), which has a similar chore and rewards system, but no fun characters or weekly competition.
For keeping all of your important information regarding your kids and home in one place, nothing beats AboutOne. The service lets you track health histories for doctor visits and home inventories for insurance claims and keep a list of instructions for babysitters and caregivers. And, like Cozi, AboutOne lets you record important moments with pictures, text and videos. All of the information is accessible from the web or the AboutOne apps.
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