Becoming an ‘app parent’: Tech that can help with family scheduling, chores and more

Parenting is fun and rewarding but also challenging and worrisome. Turns out there’s an app for that.

Parenting apps are nothing new, but instead of focusing on child development and milestones many new apps are geared toward parents. Apps can help parents be more productive, stay organized, keep track of chores and co-parent after a divorce, which may help people feel less stressed.

Nearly half (49%) of millennial parents rely on mobile apps to find information about parenting, according to a 2018 survey from Zero to Three, a national nonprofit focused on early childhood development and well-being.

For some parents a tech-centric approach may be a great fit for their family’s needs. For others this may be too much technology impinging on their parenting.

“The bottom line is every parent is different — just like kids — so what works for one mom may not for another,” said educational psychologist Michele Borba, author of “Unselfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me World.” “The key is to find what meets your needs and then stick with it so it becomes a routine. Then it kicks in as a habit and makes things easier to parent.”


’25th hour of their day’

Families are looking to enhance their parenting with technology tools that will “give them the ’25th hour of their day’ and ways to stay connected with their family, friends and their support structure, be it neighbors or internet-bors,” said Priya Rajendran, co-founder of the S’moresUp app, a family management platform that recently announced a collaboration with BSH, maker of smart appliances from brands including Thermador and Bosch. With the integration of the S’MoresUp app and the Home Connect digital assistant, parents can program appliances to assign chores, such as empty the dishwasher or load the dryer, to specific family members.

Parents are not looking for technology to replace their current methods but to bring automation and consistency to it, Rajendran said.

A recent S’moresUp study of over 600 parents found that over 90% primarily consult their extended family and friends when they run into parenting issues. Few discuss parenting issues with their net-bors (citizens of the internet), but that number is growing, Rajendran said.

Parents can manage complicated family schedules with the schedule and task management tools they use at work, but these tools were developed for work environments and have limitations, Rajendran said.

“The non-tech ways used in the past — charts, boards, etc. — work, but it depends on the parents doing a lot of the heavy-handed work like reminding, tracking, updating and measuring the progress. If parents don’t get the time and energy to follow through, the system breaks,” Rajendran said.

Think of apps as a partner and not as a replacement.

“Apps are here to help the parents offload some of their burdens on reminding, tracking and monitoring,” Rajendran said.

Social distancing due to COVID-19 has changed the way we look at technology and apps, especially as classes for kids are being delivered over Google Classroom and Zoom video conferencing, and apps like FaceTime are being used to stay in touch with friends.

Because of this, it’s “essential to put the technologies that are available to good use,” Rajendran said.

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