The Planning Tool Helping My Family Stay on Track During This ‘Unprecedented Time’ — and It’s Free
by Bethany Braun-Silva
Like many parents, when the pandemic hit and schools in New York City, where I live, announced they were closing, I panicked. In addition to my regular “mommy responsibilities,” I was now homeschooling both of my children, ages 8 and 4, working my full-time job from home, and managing the housework pretty much on my own since my husband is a first responder and his job kicked into high gear. I spent the spring and much of the summer with numerous balls in the air, juggling my various responsibilities only to feel completely burnt out. I needed help!
I came across the Cozi Family Planner app thanks to my job as editor of Parenting and figured it was worth a shot. The app claims to be “the surprisingly simple family organizer,” and with 20 million users, I could only assume it’s been helping families tremendously during this crazy time. According to a recent survey Cozi conducted, users reported that the app helped their families connect more and enabled kids to understand what “mom and dad do on a daily basis.” Because of this, kids were more inclined to help out around the house. I figured it was worth a shot.
Upon downloading the app, I was prompted to share the calendar with additional family members. I requested — read: insisted — my husband and parents download the app and start adding events to the calendar. This immediately freed me from being the sole point-person for communicating my work meetings, kids’ playdates, and other events with my family.
So far, it’s been easy for my husband and parents to navigate, considering they aren’t the best when it comes to technology. My mom started slotting in times she would come over and work with my boys on lessons, and my dad was able to add reminders about when they weren’t available. My husband, who works way more than 40 hours each week, was finally able to stay up to date on everything going on with our family without me telling (and reminding) him.
It’s also really easy to see which person adds each event to the shared calendar because everyone has a designated color, and it even syncs with our Apple and Google Calendars to remind us of important birthdays, holidays and doctors appointments that have already been scheduled.
In addition to the family calendar, Cozi has places to track your to-do lists, shopping lists, and recipes, and a spot to keep a family journal. I plan to use the app to help my family stay on track during blended learning this fall. Thinking of having to manage both my kindergartener and second grader’s at-home and in-school learning already has my head spinning, and according to Cozi, many of its users are feeling the same. In the survey mentioned above, Cozi families reported finding it harder than ever to manage their kids’ distance learning and their own responsibilities for work and around the home. The study shows that only 15 percent of families will have children going back to school in percent 100 percent.
Ahead of the new school year, Cozi launched several features to help families move through this uncharted territory. You can add links to Zoom meetings to events and even sync your child’s school calendar to the Cozi app. You can add your child’s classroom schedule to the app so you know what’s expected of them on days they’re learning at home. You can also add reminders for kids to wash their hands and clean and tidy their room.
I’m so glad I downloaded the app now so that my whole family can familiarize themselves with it ahead of September. We’re going to need all the help we can get. You can download the free Cozi Family Organizer app on both Apple and Google Play.