10 apps and tech to make life easier

Apple Calendar (iOS Free) / Cozi Family Organiser (Android FREE, offers in-app purchases) 

Using a shared calendar can ensure everyone in the family is up to date with what is going on and when.  

Dentist appointments, parents evenings and important meetings will all be available for all to see.  It is also a great way to avoid double booking on an important date that has already been set.

They are simple to use just upload your event or meeting and save it to the shared calendar.  There is also an option to set the appointment as private if you need to.

Reminders for iOS (Free)  / Google Now for Android (Free)

Reminders are another great way of making sure all the daily and weekly tasks are complete.  

They can be used for shopping lists, lists of appointments that need booking or even bills that need to be paid.

If set up you can receive alerts before something is due or you can set it up to be reminded to pick up milk when you arrive at the supermarket.

Online shopping (Delivery from £1)

The weekly shop can be a very time-consuming event sometimes taking a whole afternoon, especially if you have a few kids to buy for also.

It can also be even more time consuming when you are accompanied by demanding children.

Online shopping can make this process a lot easier.  You can do the hard bit from the comfort of your own home, whilst also being able to check if you have run out of something before adding it to your virtual trolley!

Delivery costs between £1 and £6 with monthly passes also available.  

There are a wide range of delivery slots available meaning you get your shopping delivered when it is convenient for you.

Find my friends (iOS Free)  / Find my Friends (android FREE)

These apps are a great way of making sure your kids are were they say they are without the embarrassing catch up call.

All you need to do is open up the app and see where they are on the map.  

For older children who might be a bit more independent and may feel like you are spying on them, there are options to just see their location for 1 hour or 24 hours.  In this case, if they were hoping to go to a party with friends you could suggest that you only let them go if they share their location for the next 24 hours so you have peace of mind and they get to go.

Groupon / Living Social (Website, email and phone app FREE)

When you have large families things can get expensive very quickly.  Whether it be days out, clothing, groceries or other household items all the costs add up.

Websites and apps like Groupon and Living social offers deals on all of the above.

Family passes for days out and restaurant deals with kids eat for free can be found.

Large furniture items such as beds and sofas can also be found at heavily discounted prices.

Download the app or sign up for their email alerts to ensure you get the best chance of taking advantage of the savings offered.

Google maps (iOS / Android, FREE)

When fostering you may have to increase your role and the “Taxi of Mum and Dad”!  This might mean new schools, new locations for Football practice as well as new friends houses.

If you don’t have a satellite navigational system then Google maps, available for both iPhone and Android devices is free to download and offers turn by turn navigation from your current location to your destination.

You can search by Street name, postcode or even the business or school name.

If you are loading the maps when you are out and about it can use data, so wherever possible try to load your maps at home or in a place that offers free wifi. 

Amazon Dash buttons (from £4.99, refunded after first order)

Amazon recently released its “Dash” buttons to the UK.  

Dash buttons are wifi connected product buttons that can be put around your home.  

Examples of the buttons include toilet rolls, detergent, cleaning products, toothpaste and pet foods.  The idea is that when an item is running low, your press the button and a new pack, bottle or tube is dispatched to you meaning you never run out of lives essentials.

You might be thinking that this is open to abuse by mischievous kids! Fear not, you will always receive an alert that a button has been pressed meaning you have to confirm that you do in fact need the product.  The button also only recognises the first button press, so a lorry full of toilet rolls is unlikely to turn up at your door!

The main disadvantage is that the buttons are linked to big brands, which are not always the cheapest.  Even if you do like the big brands you can sometimes look out for offers before you buy, so dash buttons may not be the best for the savvy shoppers amongst us.

Freeview plus (Box starts at £99)

Freeview plus of any DVR alternative can be a godsend for families with kids. 

Long gone are big arguments over who gets to watch their shows.  Families can now agree to watch something together whilst recording the shows that are not for everyone.

This could mean you can enjoy a cuppa and your soaps after the kids have gone to bed or that hubbies Match of the Day fix doesn’t stop a family movie night its tracks!

Netflix (from £5.99 per month)

Netflix can also be a great healer when it comes to TV wars.

Netflix has a great selection of movies and tv shows for all ages that can all be watched on demand.

You can set up profiles for all the family and a special “kids” profile can be set up for under 12’s who will only see content applicable to their age.

Family movie nights are also a great tradition for foster families to spend some time together.  Netflix allows you to watch trailers, search by genre and there’s always the backup of changing your mind if it doesn’t grab you, which is a lot easier that returning the DVD to Blockbuster!  You will also get recommendations based on what you have watched previously.

Managing Wifi

If you are concerned by the amount of time your time your children are spending on the internet or you want to limit the time they spend or when they use the internet then most routers now have software to set these parameters.

You can usually look on the internet for a manual by typing in the model number and you will be able to download a user guide to help you get up the controls you need.

Limiting or stopping internet access can be a great way of ensuring they behave.

Do you use technology or apps that make life as a foster carer easier? Let us know on Facebook.