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Getting Organized for Back to School

By Tracey Dowdy

I am not a morning person, never have been, and at 47, it’s unlikely I ever will be. On the other hand, my husband pops out of bed with enthusiasm and an attitude generally seen only in episodes of Sponge Bob. He’s ridiculous. Nowhere is this contrast more evident than in our morning routines where getting us all out the door feels a lot like herding cats.

After a summer of little or no routine, the prospect of getting everyone back on a schedule can feel overwhelming. Have no fear – the secret to success is getting organized and there are several excellent apps available. These are my top suggestions for getting your crew out the door and your mornings off to a great start.

Cozi Family Organizer: Calendar and Lists

The free Cosi Family Organizer app is pretty much my brain’s external hard drive. The account is shared, so you only need one to connect your whole family. The calendar is color coded so everyone can easily see which events belong to them, and set reminders and alerts so no-one misses piano lessons or forgets to pick up the kids after soccer practice – not that something like that would ever happen.

Ahem, moving on. You can create and share grocery lists so if you’re fortunate enough to have a child that drives, you can have them pick up missing ingredients for dinner on their way home. Create “Honey Do” lists or chore lists for the kids, or create a family journal with photos and text of those moments you don’t want to forget.

Price: Free
Platforms: iOS, Android


Evernote is another great organizing tool. Synced with all the devices you and your family use, Evernote offers all the features you need in an organizer app like calendars, lists and scheduling, but it also allows you to create voice and written memos. You can use it to take notes, plan a trip or project, save, sync and share files for home, school and office.

Use your Cozi or Evernote apps to create a check list for your kids and have them go through their checklist the night before.  While my girls were in elementary school, their lists started out as simple as:

  1. Put your backpack and shoes by the door.
  2. Lay out your clothes for tomorrow. (They wore uniforms so there was no “I don’t want to wear that” battles.)

That eventually evolved into more responsibilities like making their own lunch and keeping me informed about upcoming projects to avoid “I have a Science project due in the morning and we have no poster board!” moments.

Price: Free
Platforms: iOS, Android, Windows Phone

Intuition+ : Mom’s Personal Assistant

Intuition+ is specifically designed with a multi-tasking mom in mind. Able to be synced with your Google calendar so you don’t have to update more than one calendar, you can add,  delete and update tasks in one easy step. Create lists for individual family members, keep track of grocery lists, read mom-focused articles, and a Personal Assistant sidekick to keep you motivated and on task.

Price: Free
Platforms: iOS

AboutOne Family Organizer

AboutOne Family Organizer is a “filing cabinet in the palm of your hand”. It goes beyond lists and calendars allow you to privately manage and share everything from documents and photos to receipts and videos. AboutOne automatically updates information for you, sends alerts and reminders, and works in conjunction with your calendar and contact tools. One important feature is that About One is password and PIN protected, adding an additional level of security to your information.

Price: Free
Platform: iOS, Android, Windows Phone

Getting organized takes a little time and forethought but it is possible. Starting off the school year with structure allows you breathing room and gives you time to fall into a rhythm that best fits your family. Just as in families, there is no “One size fits all” organizer, so play around with the apps and see which works best for you and your crew.

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Toronto, ON. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances and researches on subjects from family and education to pop culture and trends in technology.

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