For harmonious co-parenting, you need a varied skill set. Co-parenting (successfully, at least) requires flexibility, patience and the ability to compromise. A sense of humor is pretty helpful, too. And above all else, you have to be organized. Which, yes, we know is difficult enough to keep a household running smoothly when the entire family is under one roof. But despite an increase in feeling like you’re maybe herding cats, here, organization is even more essential when kids split their time between two homes — after all, the potential for mix-ups (and missed playdates) is even greater in this scenario. So how can you pull it off? Apps, apps, and more apps. Help is out there — in the form of the best co-parenting apps that are designed to make the realities of co-parenting life just a little easier. These seven options come highly recommended by parents in the know.
More than 160,000 families in 163 countries use 2houses, which provides a way to communicate with your child’s other parent when phone, text and email just aren’t working. (It should go without saying that using the kids as “messengers” is a recipe for disaster.) The app helps parents organize their schedules, keep track of all activities and exchange information concerning their kids, from medical notes to school appointments. It also offers a messaging service, mediator access and document storage via a web platform and on mobile apps for iOS and Android. You can take advantage of a free 14-day trial before deciding if you want to commit to an annual membership, which is $9.99 per family per month.
The Amicable app aims to help couples have amicable separations and encourages them to make their child’s best interests their top priority. Right now, the divorce services accessible through the app are only available in England and Wales, but the app itself can be downloaded anywhere in the world.
Free to download on both iOS and Android, Amicable helps parents reach fair agreements, simplify the separation process and reduce their costs. On the app, parents can set goals for the future they hope to create post-separation, create a parenting plan documenting decisions they reach about their children, agree on the nature and value of assets and how to split them, and create budgets for life post-divorce.
Coparently offers all the tools you need to make co-parenting go as smoothly as possible: color-coded custody calendars, a secure messaging center, exportable/printable records for shared expenses, and a shared online directory for all important contact information (sitters, doctors, friends, etc.). You can even add your kids to the account so they can use it to communicate with you (no, they won’t be granted access to any of the other features). The 30-day free trial gives you plenty of time you explore what Coparently offers and decide if it’s the right tool for you; if you sign up, it costs $9.99 per parent per month.
4. Our Family Wizard
Our Family Wizard is one of the original online tools designed specifically for co-parents and their kids. It lets families share messages, events, expenses and important information via web platform and iOS and Android apps. A useful add-on is the “tone meter” — described by Our Family Wizard as an “emotional spell-check” for your messages. If phone calls, text messages and emails with your ex tend to get heated, this could improve your life — and your stress levels — immeasurably. A year’s membership costs $99 per parent, and child accounts are free.
If you can talk to your ex without wanting to punch them and all you need is an organizational tool, Cozi is one of the most user-friendly options. This Mom’s Choice award-winning online program, which is available on iOS and Android, lets you create and share calendars, shopping lists, to-do lists (ideal for homework assignments and school projects) and meal plans. There’s also a family journal to track your kids’ milestones, which is a sweet addition. The basic program is free, but if the ads drive you crazy, you can pay $19.99 per year to upgrade to Cozi Gold.
6. Talking Parents
Sometimes, co-parenting issues can only be resolved through the courts. If you end up in this situation, Talking Parents can lighten your emotional load a little by providing a place to store all your communications. As a completely secure, easy-to-use record-keeping system, it saves you taking screenshots, making notes by hand and trying to retrieve long-lost emails should you need to supply proof of correspondence to the courts. The standard web-only plan is free to use, but it costs $3.99 per PDF download. Alternatively, you can sign up for the premium plan at $4.99 per month, which can be used on iOS and Android mobile devices and includes unlimited PDF downloads.
7. Google Calendar
You might already use a tool at work or home that could make co-parenting easier. Google Calendar is a simple way to coordinate schedules with your ex; all you have to do is create a calendar and give your ex editing permissions. You can also schedule regular events to repeat automatically and create reminders. To get started, all you need is a Google account, and you can access it on your computer or via the app on any mobile iOS or Android device.
In an ideal world, all co-parenting people would be flexible, patient and always willing to compromise. If that’s you, give yourself a massive high-five. If it’s not, keep working at it — but give yourself a break. You’re only human. And yes, sometimes divorce is a disaster. But at the very least, you can install one of these apps and make a dent in getting your co-parenting life into shape.