The Best Tools, Apps, & Hacks to Help Parents Stay Organized

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I don’t know about you, but I feel constantly on the verge of drowning in my obligations. Between my full time job, a husband who works 60-80 hours a week, and four kids who have their own social and extracurricular schedules — not to mention running a household and carrying the mental load that moms are expected to handle — my poor brain is perpetually scrambled trying to keep up with all the things. If I’m being honest, though, it would be this way whether I had four kids or one; some people just aren’t great at being organized, and I’m one of them.

Summer is a brief reprieve from at least some of the hustle and bustle, but now that school is starting, I’m stressed out just anticipating all the stuff I’ll need to mentally juggle. Lucky for people like me, we live in an age where sanity-saving inventions and innovations abound.

Write it Down

Call me old-school, but sometimes the easiest way for me to keep track of things is by using the old-fashioned method of literally writing it down (I know … how archaic!). Rather than littering up my space with Post-It notes, I love my reusable wall calendar; mine is from Artifact Uprising and is personalized, which is a nice touch. The entire family can write things down, and everyone can see the entire month at a glance, so we know not only what’s happening on that day but in the days to come.


Keep it Digitized

If you’re more tech-savvy and put all your important events into your calendar via your phone or computer, a digital calendar like the Skylight can be a huge help — it automatically syncs with calendars from Google, Outlook, Apple, and more, so that whatever you put into your personal calendar will show up on the Skylight with no extra steps. You can color-code different schedules and events, too, but my personal favorite feature is the grocery list. Via the Skylight app, my whole family can add things to the list, even while I’m at the store. Of course, this means I get a lot of requests for things like ramen noodles and Mountain Dew (and random wish-list items like “Ferrari”), but the best part is that if I don’t get something, the responsibility is on them. “You should’ve put it on the Skylight!” is my mantra.

Take Ten

One of the things that I find most helpful is to devote 10 minutes a day (or 15, if you’re feeling ambitious) to figuring out what tomorrow’s schedule is going to bring. It may sound overly simple, but you’d be surprised. When you dedicate a little block of time exclusively to planning ahead, you feel much more prepared – and it saves you from having to take care of things on the fly. If you find focusing on one task for 10 minutes to be difficult (raises hand), set a timer, or use an app like Forest … where you plant a seed that turns into a tree after your allotted focus time is up. If you leave the app to scroll through your phone, though, your little tree is doomed.

Also helpful during those few minutes? This next little tidbit …

Meal Prep

I know. It sounds like one of those things that’s great in theory but not easy to execute in real life. However, feeding a family takes up a substantial amount of time; throw in working around everyone’s various sports and extracurricular schedules, and mealtime becomes a real pain, even if you normally enjoy cooking. We all know the horrible feeling of staring blankly into the fridge, realizing there’s nothing thawed, and resorting to fast food (again) because it’s easy and cheap and we’re tired. Then we get to grapple with mom guilt over making nutritionally unbalanced choices for our families. Yay! 

So yeah, preparing what you can for the week’s dinners ahead of time might take a little more effort up front, but it pays dividends when you’re pressed for time and already have something you can throw together quickly. Get yourself an arsenal of go-to recipes (like the ones you can find here and here — but a quick Google or Pinterest search can unearth a treasure trove of ideas). If you’re really feeling extra, you can use an app like Recipe Keeper to not only help you organize those recipes, but plan ahead. You don’t even have to do things like pre-dicing onions or freezing browned hamburger or anything; just the simple act of planning out your meals, and making sure you have everything you need, can make a huge difference. Oh, and get yourself a slow cooker
if you don’t have one. You will most definitely need a slow cooker. Don’t want to spend the money for a new one? They’re practically a dime a dozen at thrift stores!

Get Inspired

There are people out there who are far more pulled-together than I’ll ever be, but I like to take manageable tidbits from their social media accounts, which are like master classes of organization and productivity! Sure, it sounds counterintuitive to scour social media for tips on maximizing your time, but seeing and hearing about it from someone else can be inspiring in a way that simply thinking about getting organized is not. The “How to GYST” (I’m sure you can figure out what those letters stand for!) channel on YouTube is an amazing resource. Or you can just search TikTok for categories like “life hack” or “productivity” or “organization” and find inspiring content like this from Tiffany Moon, MD!

Productivity Hack #getthingsdone #workworkwork #workingmom #Productivity #Hack #Efficient

♬ Watermelon Sugar – Harry Styles