It’s only day three as I write this.
For us, that means day three of six in a row.
Fifteen hours of each of these days – are spent with Mom.
Dad is just as busy, working two jobs and going to school full-time.
(Not complaining friend, just sayin’ I’m thankful it’s almost over.)
It’s a season, and to me, it’s just-plain-hard right now 🙂
Long days, hard seasons….Does any of this sound familiar?
If we were discussing this over coffee (at my house with the kids underfoot), this is what I would share with you.
Yes, some days I do fight feeling frozen or stuck – But looking back I am reminded –
If I hadn’t wrestled with finding what tools would best help manage our family, I would have been totally underwater by now.
I firmly believe that any system for running your home needs to be as unique as each family is. So although I don’t expect my way to be your way, I do think experimenting to find YOUR best balance of family management tools can help you avoid overwhelm!
So let’s get to it…
Oh Evernote! The more I use it the more I love it. This app is on our phones and on our computers (Windows and Mac). It is so versatile I use it for all areas. Home, Homeschool, Blog and Business.
It helps me balance my multiple personalities when it comes to deciding the tough things in life ..
Paper and Pen Me or Electronic Me 🙂
Some things just feel good to write out and don’t need to be changed very often. I can write them out, snap a picture, create a note and file it in an Evernote “Notebook”. Evernote is with me everywhere. I can access it on my phone or computers without carrying around my physical notebook! LOVE IT!
I also use it to collect links or write notes and lists (Shopping lists, To-do lists, Meal lists, Homeschool Notes or Records)
Even the rough draft of this blog post!
Other awesome functions are the webclipper and your own Evernote email address so you can have things sent directly to a notebook. You can also share a note with a friend or co-worker.
There is a paid and a free version. There is a bit of a learning curve. But there are some great resources and tutorials. Michael Hyatt is a fan and has this tutorial (Awesome, Thank you!!). If you use the app, also make sure to sign up with Evernote’s email list directly as they send helpful tips and I have learned a lot that way too.
Speaking of the electronic me…
If you are on email overload like me, Unroll.me is an awesome tool! I’m a pretty big Google nerd so I always find lots to sign up for. It’s a free ios app I use to help keep my inbox ..ahem… under control. I have used it for over a year and have been pretty pleased with it.
Unroll.me gives you one of three options in your email.
– Keep the email in your inbox and receive it when it’s originally sent.
– Add it to your “roll up” which is a daily digest of your chosen emails.
– Unsubscribe right from your inbox if you don’t want it anymore.
From their site:
How does Unroll.me unsubscribe me from a subscription?
Unroll.me unsubscribes you by following a sender’s unsubscribe instructions 24 hours after you’ve unsubscribed. As a backup, we automatically trash all future emails you’ll receive from that sender. This is to ensure that if the unsubscribe request fails for some reason, you’ll still never receive an email from that sender. See more info here.
Like most other apps, you do have to give access to your email. The downside is that it only works for Mac products. If you’re on Windows you will need to look for another option.
Nope. I’m not going to tell you about Google Calendar. Maybe someday I’ll switch it out, but for now iPhone Calendar works great for us. It syncs on our phones and Mac. I can view it in iCloud anywhere online. I like everything on one calendar, but you can add others. I add all appointments, hubby’s school schedule, events or reminders to it. Next I throw in any needed details (directions, what to bring etc) and set two alerts. I add things right away otherwise I will forget. It’s super simple.
Yes, these should all be in my iPhone Calendar. And most of the time they are. But…. it never hurts to have a back up. Like for that time I washed my phone with my sheets. SERIOUSLY. I’ve also made the awful mistake of breezing past my niece’s birthday #badaunt.
Still makes my heart hurt.
So this used to be my “only”, but now is a free backup. You input the names, birth dates (and if you know the birth year) and then get email reminders when it’s close. It’s nice having the year in it so you are reminded of the person’s age (especially for kids). The best part is to set up, you can email people on your contact list from Birthdayalarm.com and they can enter the info themselves = timesaver! If they don’t want to, that’s fine, you can input the info manually.
This tool helps me stay on top of those I care about and I’m even able to send a quick Happy Birthday note to those I don’t talk to often enough!!
Grocery shopping and I are NOT friends. In fact I would say we are nearly enemies. But, being that a family of 7 needs to eat, I have used Build A Menu for almost two years and it really helps.
They provide a variety of menu plans – including many special diets. You can choose a done-for-you menu or a customizable option to make your own. You log in, choose your grocery store or choose “any store” and proceed to “Build A Menu” for your family.
This includes a shopping list, recipes, and get this – it gives you an estimated total! It adds variety to our menu but there is also an option to add your own recipes. I can print my shopping list, any recipes needed and a calendar with all meals on for reference. Before I go to the store, I have a good idea how close I am to our budget for the grocery trip.
This is a paid tool but is pretty affordable per year. It actually does help me save money since I know my total ahead of time (I would always recommend estimating the total higher than they say if your budget is strict like ours). You can view their FAQ page here. Even though I have taken breaks from it, I am always happy when I go back to using it.
This free app has been super helpful to me in remembering who has what specific prayer needs. It has a learning curve but I really find this updated version a lot more user-friendly. I often get prayer requests by email or text. With PrayerMate, I can actually copy and paste them in a prayer card in my app and then flip through them during those in between moments in life, or during my quiet time. I really love having this app on my phone and being able to remember the details of others requests.
Ok, this I have been using FOREVER! This plan is so super inclusive for cleaning and keeping our home in order (well, at least we try). Let me start by saying that if you actually hit everything, every day, you are a superstar! I like to use it as a guideline. We have our own chore schedule now with the kids, so mostly I use the daily task calendar (I love that they build in makeup days!) and the monthly decluttering and cleaning challenge. I would have no idea the last date I did them if I was supposed to keep track myself!
This last one is kind of ironic, but I completely love it anyways. It’s an app called Sleep Cycle.
The ironic thing ? I know I don’t get nearly enough sleep and my kids are the ones who most often wake me up at 6am or before!
Here’s the jist from their site:
Waking up easy is all about timing. Sleep Cycle alarm clock tracks your sleep patterns and wakes you up during light sleep. Waking up during light sleep feels like waking up naturally rested without an alarm clock.
Why am I hooked ?
Because I don’t like to wake up. The few times that my kids aren’t the first to wake me, this app has made a world of difference in the way I felt when I woke up, regardless of how much sleep I got (not that getting sleep isn’t important!). It tracks my bedtime and awake time totaling how much (or little) sleep I got along with my mood when I wake up.
I feel it holds me a little more accountable to try to get to sleep as soon as I can at night, even though my husband and I operate on a second shift schedule. Someday there won’t be little people waking me anymore and I will actually sleep and use it daily as it’s intended 🙂
That’s the round up friends!
We have found it works best for us when we continue to evaluate each season. More often than not, these 8 tools have helped keep us somewhat on top of things and avoid a complete state of overwhelm! Other things in life are stressful enough. Less stress = less overwhelm = a good thing!
Now on to cleaning up that spilled milk… seriously this was laying on the floor today 🙂
So, now I’m wondering what I’m missing out on? What are YOUR favorite family management tools that we should try? Let me know in the comments below!
Talk to you soon,
O Lord, You have pleaded the case for my soul;
You have redeemed my life.
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