Like a lot of parents out there, I have entered that time of year when we all try to get back into some sort of routine now that school is back in session. While most people think it is tougher on the kids, it can be just as hard on the parents. You go from a summer schedule with flexible bedtimes and limited extracurricular activities to schedules, practices and of course homework.
How do busy parents keep this all organized without getting overwhelmed? Personally, I rely a lot on Evernote and other apps and technology available to me. My iPhone is my information hub. I use various apps to keep track of schedules; communicate with teachers and coaches; organize all of the take home papers, policies and schedules. Here are a few quick tips to get you started:
1. Calendars – I created a shared Calendar using Google Calendar that I my wife (and even my mother-in-law) can share. We use this to add specific appointments and sports practices and games, complete with notes and reminders. You can still keep work and personal calendars separate on most devices, but always have an updated schedule for all parents and grandparents to see.
2. Reminders – Personally, I use the iPhones’ built in “Reminders” app, but there are many to choose from on all platforms. I use this to keep track of things that need to be done, but maybe don’t require a calendar event; pick up supplies for an art project, pack special snack for tomorrow, sign permission slip, etc.
3. Email and Contacts – Most teachers are entirely too busy to return every phone call that comes from a concerned parent, but will gladly respond to emails with quick questions or concerns. I use the contacts app to create a file for each child, complete with teachers email, school administration emails, school phone numbers and any other information. Quickly and easily get a hold of the right person when needed.
4. Evernote – This revolutionary program that syncs notes over multiple devices and any web connection, acts as your personal assistant with amazing memory. Upload text notes, images, audio notes and even PDFs to be accessed on your phone, tablet, desktop or laptop. With multiple ways to organize your files (notebooks, tags, OCR search and more) you can always access those important papers and notes when needed.
5. Jot Not – How do you get all of those wrinkled papers sent home via backpack into Evernote you might wonder. I use a nifty app called Jot Not to scan documents into my iPhone. Turn anything into an image or PDF, immediately email it, save it or sync it with Evernote. The app lets you take a picture, crop and adjust for folds and angles, then even balance the color to make a beautiful scanned document.
These apps work for our family, but you have to create your own system. With older kids, you could have them sync their own schedules with a family calendar. Let them be responsible for their own paper scans and homework reminders. That is all up to you. What is most important is that you have all the information you need to get through the school year, without giving up precious family time.
Not a smartphone or technology-forward family? Here is an article with more old-school Back-to-School tips that might help. How do you plan to keep things running smooth this school season? Share your tips in the comments.