For years my wife and I looked for a way to communicate essential things that didn’t rely on texting. You see, when you rely on texting, you forget. Or, in most cases, I forgot. It’s not top-of-mind because it’s not top of text. Texting is a great form of communication for parents and couples. But texting is only good for cool stories about weird birds, videos of Big Kid Moments, pics of cool things I see in store windows, and notes of appreciation and love. Texting is very, very bad for sending really important things your partner needs to remember, remembering really important things your partner sent you. And grocery shopping.
We needed Wunderlist because of the pretzels. Before Wunderlist, I would go to the grocery store and wing it. I cook most of the time and shop most of the time, and did so well, with family tastes in mind. The family was fed, and I patted myself on the back. Job well done. One problem: The pretzels were missing. My wife loves pretzels. I could live without them. So we mostly lived without them. We also, I suspect, lived with a growing resentment that neither of us could place.
The pretzels were one thing, the yogurts another. She loves those small cups of Icelandic yogurt that have weird flavors — specific weird flavors. The kids love them too — other specific weird flavors. I can live without lingonberries, thank you much. And so I bought them when there was room in my backpack. When there wasn’t, I forgot them — amnesia by convenience. More products I didn’t care about but others couldn’t live without started to follow suit. The grocery store resentment came more into focus and my wife started making lists. At first, the list was written, on paper, as though I was some early 20th century explorer going foraging for victuals. I forgot the paper sometimes, lost it in the cart a surprising amount of times, and missed things that were there on the list that I held there in my hand a bewildering number of times.
So we started researching apps.
We downloaded a few, used them all simultaneously and used them all poorly. Fortunately, we soon gravitated towards Wunderlist. I think we liked that you would click the button by the task and it would show as a strike-through, so you could still read it if you screwed up. I’m pretty sure that was the killer app function that we liked (Note to readers: It doesn’t do that anymore. Double note to readers: Wunderlist was bought by Microsoft two years ago and they reportedly moved most of the team to build the more current app, “Microsoft’s To Do.” I haven’t bothered to jump into To Do. It doesn’t matter. Wunderlist still works just fine, thanks.)
Wunderlust did other stuff, too. Other apps did more other stuff. But we didn’t need any other stuff. We needed an app that would give us easy-to-share lists so that we could grocery shop, pull-off birthday party planning, pack everything we needed for a long weekend on the road with a very needy baby and pretty damned needy grade-schooler.
Because, you see, the best co-parenting app doesn’t need to be a very good app. It needs to make a to-do list, share that to-do list, and the rest is up to you. Once you decide to use the app, the unimportant important things — food preferences, balloon preferences, packing the right kinds of snacks — can stop getting in the way of life. You stop arguing over the week’s dinner, because when the week’s dinner is in an app you just buy the damned ingredients. You stop fuming miles into a four-hour drive over her forgetting the Z bars — not the Clif Kids bars, which they hate — because it was in the app and it was bought.
Best of all, you start text messaging more because texts are a safe space again. You send love, see more pics of the kids, and learn about the world — sending the recording of the Brazilian white bill that proves it’s the loudest bird on Earth. That’s a sound that would have otherwise been drowned out by a To Do. Thank God for co-parenting apps, right?
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