The right digital tools can save you time and energy on family tasks.
mother and baby with ipad
Credit: Lucy Schaeffer

Manage Your Household

Delegate jobs, organize health and safety info, and check to-dos--all on the go.

Chore Hero: Keep track of what needs to be done around the house and get the kids to happily help out with this management app disguised as a game. Family members can earn points for completing chores and watch their scores add up over time on your iPhone. ($3;

Baby ESP: Keeping a baby log just got easier. The "ESP" in this Android app's name stands for eat, sleep, and poop; every time your little one does one of 'em, press an icon to enter it. You can track multiple babies, diaper usage and cost, and sync info with other phones, so all your cutie's caregivers know exactly what he needs. ($5;

Life360: Keep tabs on your kid's location. This app tracks mobile numbers of anyone in your private safety network so you can view them on a GPS via your Android or iPhone. If your child doesn't have a cell, clip a GPS device, $99, onto her backpack. (Free for locating iPhone and Android users; from $5 monthly otherwise;

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Keep in Touch

Modernize your correspondence style.

MeebleMail: You want to send a thank-you note that has the elegance of stationery and the immediacy of e-mail. Enter MeebleMail's luxe digital letterhead for Web-based e-mail (think Yahoo or Gmail). After personalizing your pick, you simply drag the letterhead into messages before composing them. ($5 annually;

LiveProfile: Control the lag time between text sending and receiving. LiveProfile's technology displays texts between users as they're typed, alerts you when your messages have been read, and lets you view all the texts you've had with a friend or a group in one place. (Free for Android, iPhone, and BlackBerry devices;

Tiny Prints: Design and send custom paper greeting cards. This one-stop online shop for all things snail-mailable allows you to schedule delivery of designs as much as a year in advance, so you'll never miss your sister-in-law's birthday. (From $2 per card;

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Get Streamlined

Access the news and funds you want--when you want them.

Instapaper: Create a mini magazine of your favorite blog and Web content with this free tool. Install the app on your desktop, then click the browser extension anytime you spot something you'd like to read later. Enjoy the saved articles in your Instapaper account on all your devices: laptop, smartphone, tablet, or Kindle. (Free;

Wildcard: While picking out your own present is fun, keeping track of gift cards (and what's left on them) is a pain. With the Wildcard app, you can load cards onto your iPhone, so you always have them on hand to check balances or make purchases. You can even use the app to regift cards you don't need. (Free;

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Store 'n' Share

Avoid data loss--and keep files at your fingertips--with smart services and devices.

CrashPlan: This software automatically backs up files locally (to another computer in your house) and remotely (for example, to a workplace or a friend's computer). Upgrade to CrashPlan+ and your files will also back up online, so they're accessible via the Web. CrashPlan offers unlimited storage, so you can even find deleted files. (Free for CrashPlan. From $25 annually for CrashPlan+;

iCloud: Enjoy the freedom to access all your personal content--apps, music, movies, podcasts, e-mails, contacts, and calendar--on all your devices at any time. Sign up to automatically receive 5G of storage--apps, books, and photos in your Photo Stream don't count against this; mail, documents, Camera Roll, settings, and other app data do. (Available this fall. Free for up to 5G of storage;

SugarSync: Say bye-bye to thumb drives and e-mailing yourself spreadsheets so you can work at home. Sugar-Sync will store your files, photos, and music from multiple computers in their cloud (and automatically sync any new additions or document changes) so that you can access it all any time, from any device. The 30-day free trial includes 5Gs of storage that never expires. (From $5 monthly;

Originally published in the October 2011 issue of Parents magazine.

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