Where is the Slack for Moms?#slackformoms
As a business person, I admit, technology has served me well. My productivity, as an executive in customer facing role like sales, professional services, and customer success has improved by leaps and bounds with business productivity tools. I can now spend more time thinking and strategizing at work and not be burdened by drudgery. Even hailing a cab, which I thought was easy enough, has been made easy to a point where I almost now pine for some excitement while traveling. But as a mother, which without a doubt is the most important role that I play, I haven’t benefited as much from technology. The innovation engine of Silicon Valley hasn’t yet helped us, moms. Can someone cut us, the moms, some Slack?
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step
As a step in the journey of using technology better in my role as a mom, I decided to address one of the top priorities for us moms — the all round development of our kids, to get them ready for an uncertain future. Most of us today supplement kids’ school education with classes and camps. Finding and managing kids’ activities is an important part of the life of most moms. The process is very painful and in spite of our best efforts always leaves us feeling that we could have done better.
There is no dearth of technology that moms use to achieve this Herculean task. Text messages, emails, phone calls, Googling, Yelping, Yahoo Groups, Google Calendars, worksheets, to name just a few. But trying to work with these is like trying to cook a great meal with lots of leftovers. It’s a pain, tastes terrible and leaves you feeling strange the next day.
The process today
With the carrot of early bird discounts & the stick of missing out on good summer camps, the stress starts to build up as early as January, as camps start to publish their schedules.The feeling is very similar to the pressure of tax filing deadline but just hundred times worse and there are no extensions. By February end, procrastination is no longer an option. After a long hectic day, I grab a glass of red wine and embark on this journey. I Google for camps and classes and I am presented with a bewildering array of choices. I get sucked into this information vortex for an hour and I realize at the end of it, just like after the glass of wine, I am no wiser than before (at least with the wine I have a nice buzz).
I feel the urge to ask, Joanne, a fellow parent. But it’s awkward to text her late in the night. So I send her an email. Joanne gets to my email the next evening and responds with some feedback. Her email lands in the pile of emails. By then I have moved on to my next battle (if you are a mom, you know what I mean). At some point later when a combination of guilt and fear make me go back looking for that email, the information in it is inconclusive and I feel the urge to reach out to another friend. And so the story goes on. It’s a testament to the will and resolve of moms that we get to the end zone in spite of the obstacle filled terrain that we have to navigate. There has to be a better way.
A better process would be…
I get notified of the camps & classes as they start to trend or become available, filtered to my specific needs. I can quickly view some details about them — not too much. I am assured that people in the neighborhood are actually discussing and planning to attend these camps and classes this year. I shortlist a few and start a messaging thread with my friends to see what they think about these camps. Now my conversations are not scattered across text messages, emails and phone calls. And if I am new to the town or haven’t the time, I can access a concierge service that helps with recommendations on camps and classes based on my needs.
We have taken the first steps to solving this problem for moms with MyVill app. A single app that combines classes/camps information and messaging to make it easier for moms to get the help they need on their fingertips.
Road to nirvana is always under construction…
In the lives of moms, their day-to-day work requires information (like camp and class information) and collaboration tools (like messaging & calendar) to work without friction. This will free them up to spend quality time with kids and on themselves.
Bringing these tools together will not be an easy journey but I am not alone. There are other women entrepreneurs who have embarked on this journey like the team at Parenthoods. But none of us, I am sure, chose this because it is easy. We chose it because it is important.
This was originally posted in Jan 2016, on the MyVill medium blog