The time-starved. A brand-new definition for certain members of our society, of which I am certain is a result of the uptrend in social media obligations. We all have the 9 to 5 responsibilities, just like in the old days, prior to the birth of the worldwide web. But today we're also burdened with necessary demands like Facebook communities, Pinterest duties, LinkedIn relationships, and upping our Twitter followers. Then, to complicate the blend, mix in being mother and father and single moms are virtually poster children for the affliction.
Rather than its original intention, of making things easier, I believe all this new technology has added more stress to our daily lives. But it's not all bad. Some very clever entrepreneurs have stepped up to lend us a virtual helping hand. Here are 10 super-cool products and services I have found that will allow you to spend less time on your "www.to-do's" and more time with your beloved kids.
1. Necessity being the mother of invention, three clever moms have come up with a gem of an online service. It's number one on my list, and an all important must-have, especially for single moms: a healthy pool of reliable babysitters. Whether you need a last-minute sitter for a coffee date or business dinner, UrbanSitter.com could be your solution. Think of it as "OpenTable for babysitters." It is the first online service to find and book a trusted sitter through existing connections and affiliations (built on Facebook Connect). Leveraging Facebook to help parents find sitters through friends means that trust is built in -- parents can see reviews and recommendations from friends, and can search for sitters simply by availability or by specific skills and qualifications (i.e. speaks French, is CPR certified and has experiences with special needs). They can book in real-time, message with sitters and pay online (or via the mobile app). Basically, UrbanSitter replicates the off-line process of gathering sitter recommendations and puts it online to make it much simpler and more efficient.
2. Need help with your mommy duties? Or have "to-do's" you just don't want to do? Mommy concierge services to the rescue. These people will do all that stuff you can't or don't have time for. Whether it's decorating your baby nursery, picking up your dry cleaning or organizing your child's birthday party. In Orange County, near my hometown, I found Kim of mommyconcierge.com. Her fee is approximately $25 per hour, or $150 per day. Check online for one of these awesome mommy helpers in your area.
3. Another site started by three very smart mommies from Massachusetts, Meg, Julia and Christa, and one of my favorite online resources is, mommeetmom.com. Single moms need a village and this website is your link to local ladies just like you. Think of it as a mommy dating service. Whether you're searching for a playdate or just another like minded mom to answer questions and be a support this site is for you.
4. Ever feel like you're being pulled in a million different directions at once? Can you define your life as organized chaos? Then www.livingtree.com could be the answer to your scheduling nightmares. It's a new free web and mobile app for parents that provides an integrated scheduling system that's sharable among members of a family and members of your school system (teachers, coaches, tutors, etc). LivingTree is designed to intuitively integrate all of a child's classes, teams, schools, and leagues for easy coordination of all events from sports practices to doctor's appointments to parent/teacher conferences. When locations or other details are changed (by a parent, a coach, or a teacher) the calendar updates in real time, and everyone is automatically notified on their mobile devices. How cool is that?!
5. I don't know about you, but I am one of those people who eats to live versus lives to eat. Consequently my children and refrigerator suffer. If I'm missing something for a dinner recipe, my resolution, more often than not, is a salad. Fortunately for my family, I found this new recipe app called su-chef.com. It was specifically designed to save families and working professionals time every day. Su Chef ($0.99) transforms your iPhone or iPad into a personal assistant chef finding hundreds of recipes from any combination of ingredients ready at home. You can also search more than 100,000 recipes for nearly any taste on earth, special diet or food allergy. Personally, my daughters are thrilled!
6. Who else reading this post hates housework? Yep. Thought so. Luckily for New Yorkers, a bright gentleman founded a startup called getmaid.com. It's an on-demand maid service. With Get Maid you can instantly book via your iPhone/Android app or at GetMaid.com, and have a high-quality maid arrive within two hours -- or schedule up to a month in advance. Whether you need someone weekly or simply looking for someone to clean up on a completely irregular schedule, they'll be able to help you. Having an affordable maid available at a moment's notice will reduce stress for any single parent on the go. Keep an eye on them as the company is planning to expand across the country by the end of this year.
7. Dedicated parenting includes knowing what you don't know. For me, that is mathematics. I cannot get my youngest daughter through algebra to save my life, and my schedule doesn't always allow for me to drive her to a tutor. To the rescue is instaedu.com, an online, on-demand tutoring service. They make it easy for you to connect your kids with thousands of expert tutors in a variety of subjects. It's all done via Internet from the comfort of your home. It's easy and affordable ($24/hour) and removes one less hectic to-do from your list.
8. What happens when one of your children starts to feel ill in the middle of the night. You are a single mom. There is no one else at home to leave your other child(ren) with, while you rush the sick one to the emergency room. Or you have to figure out how you are going to run to the doctor and not be late for work or have your other children be late for school. Now can fire up your pingmd.com app. All you do is "ping" your doctor directly, share photos, and list out the symptoms. He or she can respond with a diagnosis, medication and/or the treatment you need. Created a dad and neurosurgeon based in NYC, he knew there was a communication problem that existed between doctor and patient. He believes this instant link between patients and their own doctors will drastically decrease the amount of time and money, that is wasted within the health world.
9. Here's a nifty time-saving service developed by a mom and toy business maven. Her site is called www.nevermissgift.com. This is a great service for single moms who don't have time to shop for every birthday party your child gets invited to or simply for someone who's forgetful (like me). Basically you identify the kids in your life: nieces, nephews, godchildren, kids, etc. You register each kid for a gift-giving occasions -- holidays, birthdays, etc. -- and provide a gift card message for each gift. That's it! A few weeks before the occasion you'll receive an email from NeverMissGift with three gift picks that match the child's profile, age, and your budget. The top pick will be wrapped, packed and delivered on time, unless the user (1) selects one of the two alternate gifts or (2) cancels the gift event.
10. Finally, Cheri Augustine Flake, LCSW, from www.YouAREaRockStarMom.com had a cool suggestion for moms who feel the peer pressure of recording every milestone in her child's life, but no bandwidth to create those intricate little scrapbooks: It's called Kidlee. Kidlee functions much like a Facebook page. You create it for each of your children and fill in a status update. This is great for when a child says something hilarious, meets a milestone or just does something adorable (a bonus with Kidlee: you can add photos). The cool thing is, only people that subscribe get the updates and they can opt in for how often, once a week, etc. You don't have to subscribe, either. You can just visit the custom Kidlee webpage.
Hope these suggestions make you a little less time starved and a bunch more stress free. Do you have time saving ideas? I would love to hear from you.