19 Ways Your Phone Can Make You a More Efficient Parent

mom using a smartphone in the kitchen

Forget the diaper bag, the convertible high chair, the leakproof water bottle. The most useful tool in my parenting workbench isn’t kid-specific at all. It’s my smartphone.

And I’m not alone. When I asked other moms how their phones make them more efficient parents, they had tons of smart ideas.


I've found that the camera proves helpful in multiple ways:

1. My son forgets to bring home his homework assignments. A lot. When that happens, I text his friends’ moms. Within minutes, somebody sends me pictures of her kid's worksheets.

2. When we head off to a large, crowded spot, I take a quick picture of my kid in that day's clothing. That way if we get separated, I can show people exactly what he looks like.

3. I keep a scribbled shopping list on the fridge. When there’s even the slightest chance I'll be hitting the market, I snap a photo of the list. So much easier than typing everything in! And if my husband's going to be making the stop, I just send him the photo.

Likewise, the alarm/timer:

4."The timer on my phone has saved me from more than one tantrum. When we're at the park, my son sets the timer and (usually) doesn't protest when it goes off. It's just time to leave." Meghan, NYC

5. "I have the alarm set every day to remind us to practice violin." –Angela, Brooklyn

6. "I probably would have forgotten the tooth fairy many times over if I didn't set an alarm for 11 PM on each appointed night!" –Jennifer, Bedford, MA

7. "The alarms are probably the most used function. Alarm to get up. Alarm with ten-minute warning for bus. Alarm to meet afternoon bus, with alternate alarm for early release days. Alarm to start getting ready for bed. Alarm to get long-haired daughter to detangle hair. Apparently my short-term memory is in great need of help." –Reidy, Washington, DC

Then there's the calendar:

8. "As soon as a school notice comes home, I plug it into my calendar to make sure I don't miss all the different activities, meetings, pick-ups, drop-offs, etc. I also 'invite' my husband to them, so they appear on his calendar as well. Why should I suffer alone?" –Casey, Philadelphia

9. "Our school has a calendar feed, so I don't even have to enter the events. I just subscribe to the feed." –Reidy, Washington, DC

And let's not forget texting:

10. "I use it for texting with teachers regarding everything from confirming school pick up arrangements to 'it's ok, your kiddo stopped wailing very shortly after we had to peel him off your legs, and now he's playing happily.'" –Tara, Philadelphia

11. "Texting a 'dinner' or 'homework' emoji [to my kid] upstairs helps by not straining my precious voice shouting, and simultaneously not embarrassing my tween over the hangout video function. The tween says it's the dignified way to go." –Natalie, Brooklyn

12. "Texting between the two parents has become indispensable, especially texting photos while one parent is shopping with one of the kids. I used it yesterday to confirm that the shoes I was about to buy the 8-year-old were, indeed, the right kind for the school show on Thursday." –Alison, Chicago

13. "Texting babysitters and getting a response is a huge deal." –Carrie, Easton, PA

See? Thirteen different uses—and that's before we even talk about apps:

14. "I use an app that lets me clock each feeding, tells me when the last feeding was, and will create charts that let me track how long he eats, how much he eats, what the average time between feedings is. My husband and my nanny also have it so whoever feeds him inputs the info and we can all see it on our phones. Now that I'm at work I can look at my phone and know when he last ate and calculate what time I need to be home in order to nurse him." –Rachel, Brooklyn

15. "We used a tracking app constantly when my son was a newborn. It helped us see that a schedule was emerging for him before we clued into it naturally. And to our happiness and surprise, his preschool uses this app too. I can check in at any time while he's there and see when he was changed, when he ate, when he napped—and so can my husband. It basically works like the daily sheet you would be given at a daycare/preschool, just gone paperless." –Amber, Scotch Plains, NJ

16. "I have one key cooking app that helps me use what's in my pantry, cook what's available at the farmers market, and figure out new ways to cook familiar ingredients." –Bobbie, Glasgow, VA

17. "I use an app that lets me make lists for everything; I share many with my husband so we can each access them [in real-time]. Sooo efficient!" –Kate, Cambridge, MA

18. "My son's basketball teams uses an app to post practice and game info. It's great because it helps me make sure he gets to the right place at the right time. Before, if I missed an email telling about a change in practice location or time, he was in the wrong place at the wrong time." –Jennifer, Mayville, WI

19. "I use an app on my phone that lets me remotely turn off all the apps on the iPads when my kids are in screen zombie mode." –Jess, Needham, MA

My own favorite apps include a lunchbox planner—it lets my picky kid choose from a mom-approved list of items, which lets us both feel in control—a public restroom finder, and a playground locator.

How does your smartphone make your life as a parent easier?


Debbie Koenig writes about family and food, and is the author of the cookbook Parents Need to Eat Too. Find her at http://debbiekoenig.com.

Image ©iStock.com/Nicolas McComber

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