Sitting around the table at my first PTA meeting was intimidating to say the least. I had been around my fair share of corporate tables as an IT manager, and sailed through those meetings with relative ease. Now sitting around a table with these 10 Ã¼ber moms, I began wishing I’dÂ home-schooled. Someone called out a telephone number. I instinctively reached for my iPhone and hesitated. How would thisÂ pieceÂ of tech play in a small rural NH town (withÂ sketchyÂ mobile access)? Would it mark me as an outsider? Hester Prynne and the scarlet lower-case i? I could just imagine glances being exchanged, as I remembered the looks my husband endured as he used his laptop to take notes at a budget meeting.
Then, the woman across from me pulled out a smart phone! Soon four others around the table were either tapping or thumbing away.
That was a year ago and with Hazel and Gabriel getting older and my volunteering for everything from Brownies to LEGO League, I am one of many connected moms in our community who hold it together with our smart phones!
The basics for being an organized iParent:
1) Calendaring â€” Sure you need to calendar for all of those activities because it is all too easy to double and triple-book. Events in the same prime-time slot? The real key here is synchronization. Many smart phone moms I know Â useÂ calendaringÂ functionality, but have not gotten hip to the idea of syncing. The real plus is easy access whether out with the phone or home in front of the PC. Â Our family happens to use Google calendaring and have the iPhone sync’ed with it. This allows us to share calendars â€” “Hey hon, see Hazel’s 4:30 piano lesson? I am not going to be able to take her. Can you?” You can set the calendar up to sync right from your iPhone settings â€” Google has a solid tutorial â€” or you could use an app. Some highly rated apps to check out: CalenGoo (that’s just fun to say) and Pocket Informant (fun name, feels like I’m a secret agent ).
2) Contacts â€” We meet so many new people each school year that we should have our own yearbook to keep them straight. Again, “sure you need the keep a contacts list…” and again, I will say â€” sync! It doesn’t really matter what app or service you use, but syncing is the life saver here. Consider this: the unthinkable happens and you lose that iPhone. If you have sync’ed, all of those precious contacts are safe in one location. I use Google again, for this, only for consistancy sake, but there are many solutions. A few apps to look at: Sync in a Blink, and SyncContact.
3) Geolocation â€” The busier I get, the faster my challenged “direction sense” Â leaves me. Since entering the world of parent volunteering, I feel like I visit more new locations than most door-to-door sales people. From other people’s houses to the official site for picking up the Girl Scout cookies, I have gotten very lost. The native Maps app works well, but there are a few terrific others Â out there to beef up the capabilities. You can go high end ($79.99, pricy but it is worth it) TomTom, or try the free Waze (link to TiP review).
4) Share and stay connected â€” One of the nice things I have found using my iPhone to navigate these busy parent waters is a sense of community within our larger community. We share tips and tricks and have even begun to rely on each other. It seems to me (and maybe it just seems this way) that the moms and dads with smart phones are a little moreÂ connected, a little more responsive to requests, and a little more organized. To rib each other we say, “Oh just call her land-line since she’s iPhoneless and won’t read your email until this weekend.” Some of the most fun apps I have on my iPhone I didn’t find in the iPhone blogs I read, I saw them on iPhones of fellow iParents, likeÂ Paper Toss (Have you played with it? Just plain fun!)
When Apple was first designing the iPhone, I’m not sure if over-scheduled parents were in the “target demographic.” It sure does seem like it was made for us. Many iParents might give up the post of Brownie “cookie mom” if told we couldn’t have our iPhone to help us through it.