Always being “on” can seem like a curse for busy moms. Fortunately, smartphone applications these days can be your saving grace. At a christening I attended recently for my good friend’s baby girl, an iPhone saved the day after her older daughter ran screaming down the church aisle. I don’t know how we would have gotten through the event without having access to all those games, silly videos, and pictures that so delighted her.
After polling many moms across the country, I’ve come up with the following list of the top smartphone apps to help you better organize your life, juggle work and family demands, entertain your cherubs in a pinch, and even get dinner on the table.
2Do Lite: Stunning ToDo List
This “to-do list” application is free and very simple to use. According to Nathalie Vergnoble, mom of two in Manhattan Beach, California, “It’s easy to organize between home and work errands. Although the number of entries you can have at the same time is limited, it is very helpful.” Another perk is that this app is in its second generation, so it’s ironed out a few bugs. Categorizing your to-dos according to the app’s various tabs—including family, work, today (urgent), shopping, and home—is a snap. It also features a smart calendar that allows you to share emails and import birthdays, and it’s available in many languages.
If you have a toddler, you know how difficult it is to go out to eat or sit through a church service with these wiggly little guys. Toddler Teasers is a set of apps that provides age-appropriate games that can teach kids letters, colors, shapes, and so on. So if you’re sitting in the dentist’s office, your little guy can actually be distracted and learn something at the same time, says Caroline Wilbert, a mom of three in Atlanta, Georgia. My favorite is Toddler Teasers Shapes, which happens to be free; Toddler Teasers Letters and Toddler Teasers Colors are just 99 cents each, and Toddler Teasers Quizzing is $1.99. All moms who have used these apps in desperate situations in which their kids had to be quiet and stay still say they are worth the price.
Epicurious Recipes & Shopping List
Krista Joseph, working mom of one in El Segundo, California, says this app is great for foodies (she should know—she’s a former caterer), and especially for moms on the go. Big bonus: it’s free! I like that it allows you to search for quick weeknight dinners and healthy lunches and then provides a shopping list of ingredients you need, which you can cross off as you shop.
This new iPhone app stores all your reward, club, and loyalty cards in your smartphone, so, instead of having to carry your gym, grocery store, and pharmacy membership cards, you can simply show a retailer your iPhone and scan it in the bar code reader. Though some journalists have reported a few glitches with this app, all the moms I spoke with said it’s helpful.
If you have an iPhone OS or 4, then you have a preinstalled version of this app, which can pull up real-time traffic patterns so you can navigate better while you’re on the road. Anyone who has ever driven in large cities and been stuck in traffic with grouchy children knows the value of being able to find a faster route home.
This application allows you to look up movie times and reviews, as well as purchase tickets on the go, something moms find helpful when they’re out and about with their kids and decide to have a fun, spontaneous cinematic excursion.
Released by Yahoo in 2010, this iPhone app is great for moms who are traveling and in search of a restaurant within a particular radius—especially when McDonald’s seems to be the only visible option. The app provides a map of your area; then you can circle the specific smaller region where you are with your finger, and it pulls up all the restaurants in the vicinity.
This is now a free app; once you download it, you can instantly watch movies or cartoon TV shows streaming from Netflix. This app is especially helpful when you’re traveling long distances in the car or on the plane with restless children.
This free application helps with photography—and isn’t it usually the case that the most precious moments occur when we don’t have a camera with us? This application allows you to do some photo editing, such as smoothing out skin or lightening skin tone, to enhance those pictures you might want to take when you’re running around with your little ones at the playground.
Jamie Oliver’s 20 Minute Quick Meals
This app made the list but isn’t ranked as high as Epicurious, as it costs $7.99 and obviously limits you to just Jamie Oliver’s meals. But if you’re a fan of his “naked chef” cooking or are looking to boost your family’s health by eating healthier, fresher fare, then you’ll find it worth the cost.