Smart Tech Tools to Make Every Parent's Life Easier

Apps, devices, and plain-old desktop tools for managing your every day.
Taryn Degnan Interactive Marketing Manager | Mom of one Categories: Screen Time, We Recommend
Interactive Marketing Manager | Mom of one

We'll never get more hours in the day, but technology gives us a little more wiggle room. Whether it's managing the family's schedule, occupying the kids with quality entertainment, or staying on top of the day's news, there are so many gadgets, apps, and sites to make everyday tasks a whole lot easier.

We polled some of our favorite parents to find out what tech tools they simply can't live without. Happy back-to-school season from us to you!

Stay Organized

  • GroceryIQ and Wunderlist: "I use them together to manage my weekly menu/shopping. Can't live without 'em." -- Sarah McManus, tech educator
  • Any.Do: "I can't live without Any.Do -- it's a to-do list app with a Chrome plug-in that keeps me organized and syncs between home, work, and mobile." -- Sierra Filucci, executive editor of parenting content at Common Sense
  • Google Calendar: "It's the one place my husband, my kids, and I can all dump our respective schedules and stay organized!" -- Crista Sumanik, director of communications at Common Sense
  • Freshbooks: "As a mom who is always on the go for work, I can’t live without Freshbooks to help me keep track of my business, such as invoicing, payments, and expenses." -- Leticia Barr, Tech Savvy Mama
  • AnyList: "I love AnyList. It's super handy for sharing grocery and shopping lists with my husband, plus we use it to make check-off lists for my daughter's morning and bedtime routines." -- Betsy Bozdech, executive editor of reviews and ratings at Common Sense
  • Windows 8 and Office 365: "I love that I can log on to any of our Windows 8 Tablets, Laptops, or PCs with one account that has all of my information (via OneDrive cloud storage) and business software (Microsoft Office) on the go. My kids also have their own accounts so they can use any of the devices at home with ease. With three kids, I play musical computer quite often!" -- Beth Blecherman, TechMamas

Stay Sane

  • Bose QuietComfort Noise Cancelling Headphones (in-ear): "Not only do I love them on the airplane, but they allow me to maximize time. As a work-at-home mom, I'm often taking or making calls in between errands and in the car while waiting for school pick-up. There's nothing worse than not clearly hearing what the other person is saying while on the go, and I used to put off calls until I arrived home, which sometimes cut into my daughter's time with me. Not anymore!" -- Katie Dillon, La Jolla Mom
  • Google Maps: "As a dad, I couldn’t live without Google Maps. Whether it’s for planning family outings to new places, navigating our way around the countryside on a walk, or calculating journey times to grandparents and vacations, it’s an app that is used as often as our tea kettle. Its ability to predict traffic flow and adjust routes accordingly has often saved us from being stuck in long jams. We even have a number of games we play with Google Maps -- one where the kids use the app to find a road within two miles of our house and challenge my wife and I to tell them where it is. Another game involves using the satellite view to find certain items within a time limit -- like houses with trampolines in the garden or pools. While other games and technology grab the headlines, Google Maps continues to evolve into something that my family couldn’t live without." -Andy Robertson, Family Gamer TV

Stay in Touch

  • Skype: “I have siblings and relatives scattered all over the globe, so Skype is an important tool to help us all stay connected. The kids have fun with the video function, it’s easy enough for Grandma to use, and best of all, it’s free." -Mick Erasquin, senior video producer at Common Sense

Stay in the Know

  • BabyCenter: "As a new father of twins, this site and app have been essential since the moment we found out we were expecting. At first, it was just fun thinking about when our babies were the size of a kumquat and how long it would it would take them to become bananas. And as a husband, I learned loads about what was going on with my wife’s pregnant body and how to help her through each stage. Our twins are 10 months old now. BabyCenter's comprehensive information and stories from other parents help us anticipate and understand developmental milestones as we go. It’s fascinating and reassuring all at once." -Chris Murphy, Common Sense brand director
  • The Daily Mom App: "This all-in-one app designed for busy (and obviously cool) moms pulls content from some of my favorite sites, such as Cool Mom Tech, Kids Activities Blog, Apartment Therapy, and Common Sense Media. It keeps me in the know with daily updates on news, media, blogs, weather, holidays, trivia, recipes, and tons of fun stuff." -- Shoshana Stopek, Mommy Tech Bytes
  • Kids Media App: "If you find yourself, like me, suddenly belting out the lyrics to 'Let It Go' in the middle of the day and need some new media in your house, then check out Common Sense’s Kids Media App. This is my go-to app for reviews on the latest music, apps, DVDs, books, websites, and more!" -- Shoshana Stopek, Mommy Tech Bytes
  • Baby Connect: "What a great app for working parents who want to be kept in the loop about baby’s daily activities. It allows both parents and caregivers to keep track of baby’s feedings, diaper changes, naps, moods, activity, and more." -- Erin Wilkey Oh, senior editor of education reviews at Common Sense

Stay Entertained

  • StarTalk Radio Show with Neil DeGrasse Tyson: "One of my favorite tech tools is this podcast from the host of the new Cosmos TV show. It's funny, informative, and seriously occupies my teen who can listen while he’s working on his hobbies. Neil DeGrasse Tyson has a wonderful way of simplifying complex topics -- and he brings popular comedians on his show to add humor to the otherwise dry subject matter." -- Caroline Knorr, parenting editor at Common Sense
  • SoundHound: "My daughter and I love exploring new music together and bonding over the stuff we both love. It's instant, fun, and I can finally get a peek into her teenage tastes!" -- Ellen Pack, VP of marketing at Common Sense

Save Money

  • Cartwheel by Target: "This is my must-have app for buying my family's everyday essentials. I love saving money but not chasing deals -- so this is a perfect way to cut costs where I'm able to." -- Cristie Ritz-King, Reinvention Girl

Make the Most of Screen Time

  • LeapPad2: "Our must-have tech tool is our Leapfrog LeapPad2! We have two in our house, one for the 3-year-old and one for the 7-year-old. There are so many fun, age-appropriate, and educational options for our kids to play with -- when they earn screen time!" -- Val Curtis, BonBon Break
  • iPad mini: "I've started downloading kids' eBooks to the iPad mini when we travel, which is much easier than carrying paperbacks. I'm surprised by how much my 7-year-old enjoys reading them!" -- Katie Dillon, La Jolla mom

About Taryn Degnan

As Common Sense Media's Interactive Marketing Manager, Taryn is responsible for growing and engaging our online community (that's you!) She's the voice behind our social media channels and spends her time finding... Read more
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Comments (9)

Parent written by rubycat

To monitor your child's tablet this is an amazing app www.screentimelabs.com . It does have a monthly subscription fee but for the money it is well worth it. Best to put it on your child's media device as soon as they get it, otherwise they may grumble and you may have a hard time bedding it in. I would normally never pay monthly for an app but this is so good. There are bedtime blocker options, school time options, you can see which sites your child has been to. You can reward good behaviour/doing tasks by adding on time. It's so versatile and flexible. I would definitely recommend it for all parents who would like to monitor their child's media usage. If they could link it up to PlayStation that would be even better.
Parent written by chouhansital

Smart tools for smart moms. One more smart tool here with I wanna recommend to be included here, the cloud based hours tracking tool from Replicon which as a busy mom and an entrepreneur I have been using to process and streamline the things.
Parent of a 11 year old written by Foodiegoodie

There is one serious issue that every mom faces and you have missed it. This issue is preparing food, and in this regard, health of the kids comes at top. In this regard, common of prominent healthy food recipes is a great thing that all mothers must know about. For example, http://gourmed.com has great knowledge on food recipes that belong to Mediterranean Cuisines. There are more sites in this regard, that mothers must know about. They will certainly make lives more easier.
Parent of a 1 year old written by Mum2Mie

Love this list - thank you! I would add Lifecake app for sharing photos with family in an instant and remembering the best moments in their lives. It's on Android, iOS and website.
Adult written by justashan

This is a great article and I really enjoyed finding out about new apps. However, it would have been nice to know which platforms the apps were available on right there in the review. Instead, I clicked over to The Daily Mom App only to find out I "can't have it" because I have an Android device. sigh.