Kids, Productivity

A perk to kids having phones

I am usually the owner of the “grocery list” at our house. We don’t really have a great spot to have like a whiteboard or cork board in our kitchen anymore. Notepads end up getting buried in the drawer, and annoy me if left sitting out.

So for the last couple years I have kept a running list in the Google Tasks app on my phone titled “Grocery/Household”. This is where I normally jot down random items that I realize we are low on, but that I might not otherwise think of when I sit down to make the actual grocery list. (Like, ziploc bags. Or brown sugar. Or some more pens for the kitchen drawer. Etc.)

This has generally worked well. However, I am only 1 of 4 members of our household, so obviously it is possible that we may need something that I have not personally encountered in the week.

Like last week, I did the grocery shopping, and a couple days later Ivan asked me, “Did you pick up a bottle of bathroom disinfectant and toilet bowl cleaner?” I said, “No… it wasn’t on my list. Did you tell me we needed that??” (I never clean bathrooms. Ivan handles the master bath, and the boys split up our other two: the main bathroom and the guest bathroom. So I never touch the toilet bowl cleaner, and it wasn’t on my radar!)

I do try to inventory what I can, or at least ask around if anyone needs anything, but as you probably know, the default answer is usually “nope”. *This does not necessarily mean that we don’t actually need anything else, just that no one can think of it, in the moment.*

So! I think I solved this problem. As I was at the store this week, wandering the aisles, I had a lightbulb moment.

Why not make a shared note??

We all have phones now! iPhones, to be precise. With a Note shared to all of our phones, we could all add things to the list from our own phones, and it would update the master list.

This would then take the burden off of ME to have to think of everything, too. The old way usually involved someone yelling, “Hey mom, can you pick up some more toothpaste next time you’re at the store? We’re getting low.” And then I would have to go into my app and write it down, IF I was even free/ around at the moment to do so.

With the new method, it would be on them to just open their phone and add it to the list!

So I made a shared Note, and I now feel like a Genius for thinking of this. Hahaha. (This is probably such an obvious fix, but I swear it never crossed my mind before.)

I am sure some people also have much more elaborate grocery list making systems. Like maybe a spreadsheet or printed Inventory List to go around and check every category. We do not, and honestly, grocery shopping is pretty low on my list of chores to do. I don’t like it, and I often kind of “squeeze it in”- meaning the list may be made very quickly/ on the fly, in not the most organized fashion. Just being real, but I don’t have a big fancy list making process. Sometimes I literally just peek in the cabinets and fridge quick before I run to pick up more staples- which is how things like “toilet bowl cleaner” can easily get missed.

Here is our current Shared Note list:

I will let you take a guess who added Items 1-3, and who added Items 4-5.

(Answer: The boys= #1-3 and me= #4-5.)


(It’s supposed to be Chicken in a Biskit I think, the crackers. I’ve never bought those before, so I’m a little perplexed how that ended up as the first item added to the shared family grocery list. But, okay….)

Anyway, I feel happy to have a system in place for this. And it’s a good example of how technology can actually come in handy- and how teens with phones can be a really nice thing! (There are definitely negatives to teens+ phones, too, so I’m happy to focus on a positive for once.) 🙂

My next idea: a family group chat thread!! WHY did I never think of that?!?! We can have all four of us on a text thread and then instead of texting each other individually about questions, or like, me saying, “I don’t know, ask Dad” or something, we can just all be on one thread. DUH.

Daily Gratitude:

I am grateful for cups. Like the kind you drink water out of. Random, but have you ever thought about what it would be like to NOT have any cups in your house???

19 thoughts on “A perk to kids having phones”

  1. My husband and I are huge AnyList fans (it’s an app, and as the name implies – it’s lists – any type) – you can share them with anyone, we do have a paid family account AND they connect to our household Alexas, which I thought was SO DUMB at first, but it turns out it IS nice to just say “Alexa, add eggs to Costco” or whatever while cooking vs picking up your phone and typing it!

    We have separate lists for different places we go, and all add to them as we notice things are low or out. We also use it for things like packing lists, household tasks, ideas for the future, etc. Truly it is a pretty amazing feature, I know you can do a lot of this in notes, but I like having it separated!

    My daughter now has a phone and we added her to AnyList as well (all the kids do know how to add things via Alexa) so she has it on her phone, and one of her favorite hobbies this summer was biking to Target and getting whatever was on the list, if it could fit in a backpack. Pretty sweet! She also used it to make her Christmas list, and shared it with us, and keeps a bunch of other lists going too. Now I sound like an ad for Any List 😛

    ANYWAY I’m very happy that you found a system that works, it is kind of a game changer!!


    1. Hahaha about sounding like an ad! Too funny. I actually had never heard of AnyList, so thanks for sharing! I’ll have to look into it! And we have never jumped on the Alexa/echo dot or any of those things train really, although our fridge actually has a screen and internet access and the kids can tell Alexa to look stuff up on there, etc. This makes me wonder if I could set it up to record my grocery list on there! Hmmm… I love the thought of your daughter biking to target to pick up household items! I wish we lived close enough so mine could do that! 🙂


      1. To be fair, my husband works at Amazon as a software developer, so we were extremely early adopters of Alexa, not necessarily by choice 😛 (my husband was testing new versions). I am typically fairly resistant to new apps/systems but my husband just sets it up for me and forces me to use it…. and then I love it. We’ve had several shared Google Calendars for at least 10+ years, we also use 1Password to store all of our passwords (and now our kids have this and know how to use their accounts on it too), and AnyList was at least 5 years ago too. It is nice to not be the one that has to research this stuff and it just shows up for me, all nicely integrated!


  2. This is really my dream, but one of us would have to give in. My husband has an iPhone and I have an Android and neither of us wants to switch. I can’t find a free app that is compatible across both platforms. So my husband keeps a list on his phone and whenever I come across something that needs to be added to the list, I write it down on a piece of paper and put it by his seat the dining room table. LOL. It sounds really passive aggressive, but it works for us. We have four lists, too: regular groceries, Costco, pharmacy, and hardware store.

    Anyway, I’m so happy you have figured out this system and I hope it continues to work for you!


    1. Oh! My husband has an Android and I have a iPhone and we use Out of Milk. We also use Google Keep to share lists for bigger things, like to dos or wish lists. He has a list in Google Keep titled “Things I want but probably won’t buy”


  3. Yay! Shared notes are amazing! I sort of wish my daughter were old enough to have a Notes app, because sometimes she wants/needs things that I am completely unaware of until she wails at me that we’re out of it.

    My husband and I did the shared notes app for years, and still do for Costco items, Penzeys spices, and vacation lists… but we switched over to AnyList for our grocery shopping needs. It organizes things by category (and you can create categories that work for you), and it syncs on both our phones. It’s much more organized than the Notes app. I love it!


    1. Apparently everyone knows about AnyList but me! Ha. I’ll have to look into that! I use Google tasks for many lists and I like that I can have it on the sidebar of my gmail, which I usually have open on my computer.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. We do have various group chats as a family but my daughter never keeps track of those unless I tell her to check her phone for some information I passed on.
    Grocery lists still go on a piece of paper in our kitchen even though half of the time I forget to take it when going shopping. – I should know better…


  5. I also use (and love) AnyList.
    If I tell my husband something and he forgets it at the store he’ll say…”It wasn’t on my list.” He does NOT maintain a list and I have so many lists on AnyList, I don’t actually have them shared with him…but I probably should! I’ll take a screenshot of my list, though.
    We have a “Boogie board” on our fridge and this is when I will write things down if I don’t have my phone handy for AnyList. Before I head to the store I’ll take a picture of that list, or add it in to AnyList.

    My family has various group chats; my Mom + all my siblings. One of my sister’s and her older daughters. I LOVE group chats but didn’t have any until the pandemic started…


    1. My husband has no lists either! Well, he now has a shared grocery list, but he has yet to add to it… we shall see… 😉 I have all sorts of various lists, so it baffles me that he doesn’t. No comment on the deeper meaning of that… ha. I guess I must have more things to keep in a list?


  6. i am also the one doing the groceries list, although nowadays husband goes to do it more than I. We also started to order groceries in Jakarta for certain things as it’s very convenient.
    For kids activities, I created a google calendar shared, yet, my husband keeps asking me what activities!!! very annoying. hahaha.
    i guess he’s just used to ask than check himself.
    oh family chat.. mmmm… my girls are still small and my current thinking is delay using phones. I prefer chatting more than texting, and I’d like my girls to talk to me than texting me. I know this might change in a few years, so I’ll reassess by then.


    1. Well, to clarify, my kids never text me if we are all at home! I just mean like if they are at the gym or a friends house or not home and we are communicating that way. Or if my husband is at work and we are trying to ask a question/coordinate plans with him for the evening, etc. They still talk to me in person all the time, don’t worry. 🙂


      1. That’s good. I wouldn’t be surprised that in some families they don’t talk but text to each other, especially in Asian countries. I see many dining table of families each one just on their phone eating. Very sad. But you are very mindful about this and spend a lot of time with the boys. So I’m sure they feel comfortable talking to you.


  7. Oh yes this is how Phil and I have done it for a couple of years now. I would also suggest using the check mark option (you’ll see it as one of the options below the note). Then when you check something off, it moves to the bottom of the list. It makes grocery shopping easier. And then I can see how much progress Phil has made while out shopping. LIke if I think of something I need at his 2nd stop and I can tell he’s at Aldi, I will add it and then I don’t have to text him. About 60% of our list stays the same each week, so I go and uncheck everything we need for the next week and it moves it to the top of the list. We have lists within that note for Aldi, Cub (our big box grocery store) and Target. It’s been the best to share the list making process. It results in less mental load for me!


  8. That’s so smart! I have paper notes for grocery lists and everyone adds to that BUT I love that my kids have phones and that we can communicate via text when we are all doing our things.


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