Sharing the load

Juggling work, kids, and after-school commitments is no mean feat.
Aligning everyone’s schedules to ensure you can finish work in time to collect children and shuttle them to sport, or tutoring, or friends’ houses – or contacting willing friends and family to help out – is a daily exercise in high-stakes logistics.
Aussie Mum-of-two Maggie Scott developed a nifty app that aims to lighten the load on parents.
Parachuute encourages networks of trusted people (like your family members, or other parents on your kids’ basketball team) to post ride requests on the app. Parents can choose to respond to a request, often taking a child on the same journey they were already headed – say from school to basketball training – and earning ‘points’ in the process, which then allow them to ask for a lift another day.
Maggie said the average family spent 5.6 hours in the car each week getting kids to sporting activities, and that 60 per cent of children were driven to school.
“Combine this amount of driving with record levels of work participation by parents and family stress is often the result.

“To get by, families will make decisions on what their children can do and how they will get there. This is likely to include things like making their own way to activities and carpooling with other parents.”
Maggie’s top rules of the car-pool:
• Make sure your kids know who is picking them up so there is no confusion
• Follow road and safety rules appropriate to the age / height of the child (this should be a no-brainer)
• Set a good example in terms of how you speak and behave
• Make sure the kids travelling together are polite to each other
• Check in that it’s working for your child and any other family you are helping out, and don’t take it personally if someone has to pull out
• Make sure your kids know they can tell you anything they are worried about
• Have parent’s details (phone and address) in your phone contact list
• Keep quiet – by being a fly on the wall you will learn a lot about your kid, their friends and what’s going on!
• Don’t be late – it puts pressure on everyone so avoid it wherever possible and let people know if you are running late (the person being picked up also needs to make sure their child is ready)
• Don’t cancel at the last minute or if you have to, take on responsibility for working out a solution
• Sub-out to another driver without telling the other parent. Young kids, in particular, need to know who they are getting in the car with

For more information on Maggie’s app, check out