I'm a cliché. A 30-something mom, with two kids at home, for whom “the thought of not having a flexible schedule bums me out.” So, I took control of my life and joined the ranks of the self-employed, giving up my secure, corporate job in journalism to become a freelance writer.
In my experience, one thing has made this possible: my iPad. Today's technological advances are a game-changer for parents that work from home. Tablets and smartphones afford the flexibility to keep on top of your work from anywhere, something every parent knows is essential when you combine active children with an unpredictable schedule.
The following apps have made the iPad indispensable to my workflow during times I couldn't be at my desk, and, as a bonus, my ally in managing my family of four.
The All-In-One Productivity Tool: Evernote
Free on the app store
The only downside of the proliferation of apps to streamline your life is just that: the proliferation of apps that streamline your life. Sometimes having too many excellent productivity tools actually makes you less productive. Evernote is the solution.
This feature-packed to-do list and note taking app combines the best elements of every productivity app you've ever tried. I use Evernote for everything from researching projects, writing articles, making to-do lists, cataloging the children's art work, as a weekly meal planner and for recording all my work expenses.
Its robust user interface and cross-platform compatibility mean I am always able to access or record information at a moment's notice, perfect for capturing those moments of inspiration that only occur when you're knee deep in a sandpit at the local park.
The Now-My-iPad-Is-A-Computer App: GoodReader
$4.99 on the app store
This app brings file management to the iPad, making accessing, opening, editing and annotating a wide array of file types a simple process. With GoodReader, I can work with Office files, PDFs, ZIP files and other traditionally non-iPad compatible files; meaning I'm never stuck at the grocery store unable to open that urgent document my client just sent.
Its ability to annotate PDFs also make it indispensable for signing and emailing that teacher permission slip you forgot to put in the school bag that morning, saving you years of guilt!
The I'll-Never-Let-Email-Drown-Me-Again App: Mailbox
Free on the app store
A robust email app is the most important tool in a working parent's toolkit. Email represents the majority of my workflow, and being able to deal with messages quickly and efficiently while on the go is my key to staying on top of things. There's nothing worse than getting back to your desk with a good few hours in hand to tackle a project, only to be faced with an inbox full of email that must be dealt with immediately. Mailbox tackles this problem head-on.
Its purpose in life is to help you get to “inbox zero,” by allowing you to deal with messages in one swipe. It works as an email triage system, allowing you to either snooze emails – having them return to your inbox at the time of your choosing; send them to pre-determined folders; archive; or delete, all with a simple swipe.
The I'm-Available-Anywhere App: Go To Meeting
Free on the app store
While it's billed as the app that lets you do more and travel for work less, Go To Meeting's iPad app is ideal for busy parents. Being able to join, host or schedule meetings straight from your iPad means I can jump in on that last-minute conference call from the soccer sideline, or give face-to-face input on those mockups without anyone having to wait for me to get back to my computer.
The Essential- For-Any-Parent App: Phonics Munch
$0.99 on the app store
As any parent will tell you, the iPad is an excellent device for entertaining your children on those rare occasions when life doesn't work out as planned and you need to work from home and watch the little ones. Phonics Munch is one of my favorites.
It features an adorable creature named Chomper who lives in Letterstone National Park and eats letters, consonant and vowel sounds and rhyming words. Mimicking the game play of such perennial favorites as Angry Birds by completing levels to unlock the next, it captures the attention of both my six-year-old and my two-year-old, all the while secretly teaching them to read. Its apps such as these that make the iPad truly revolutionary.
Which apps help make your life as a work from home parent a success?
Jennifer Tuohy covers business and technology topics for eBay.com, where of course you can find new and used iPads (see 3rd gen models here) or any other mobile communications device that you use for your work. Jennifer is also a freelance journalist and social media consultant.