Thank goodness for the Internet and for smartphone apps. With our crazy work-life juggle, it would be much more difficult to keep in touch with far-flung friends and family members without it. It can also help keep you connected to your kid while he or she is in camp, to your young adult at college, or to your spouse working the opposite shift. Here are a few of our favorites:
- Cozi.com. Think of Cozi as your virtual personal assistant; it can help you organize everything from your family's next vacation to your kids' camp schedules to your normal, busy, day-to-day life. Perfect for making sure your household runs smoothly -- even when you're not there to make sure everyone is on schedule.
- Facebook.com. We call Facebook the Working Mom's friend for a good reason -- you can socialize, network, and find support at all hours of the day or night. Customize your privacy settings to create family-only photo albums, or use the great chat feature to circumvent time zones (and pricy long-distance bills) with your student studying abroad.
- Shutterfly.com. Upload your photos, and use Shutterfly's handy service to email the latest snapshots to everyone from anywhere. It's not just for sending out baby pictures anymore!
- Postcard Express for iPhone. If you have an iPhone, you can create your own cheesy (or not) postcards to send immediately to your friends -- no postage required. The images you take and send are geotagged, so they show up in the recipient's inbox with a tiny map showing exactly where you are.
- MyFamily.com. If you're concerned about privacy issues with Facebook, MyFamily.com may be for you. It's a social-networking site that you can tailor to suit your family's needs -- and it's private, so your photos, blogs, calenders, and details are safe from public eyes. The enhanced privacy comes with a fee, but it's just $9.95 per family group (no matter how many people are in it), and a separate iPhone app allows you to access it from anywhere.
- Free blogging platforms. Think of it as an online version of the classic Round Robin newsletter people used to send out a generation or two ago: A group blog that's open only to designated members is an easy way to keep grandma up to date with what all of the grandkids are doing. (No time to blog? Just post photos and funny captions -- Grammy will still be pleased.) Blogger, Livejournal, and Wordpress are just three great (free) options.