Today’s families are juggling more than ever before — both physically and mentally. And despite having more on their plates than previous generations, parents are actually spending twice as much time with their kids than they did 50 years ago, which means time is a precious resource for families who are balancing personal, professional, and social goals.

Parents want to invest in services that ease the burden of managing modern family life, and they’re looking to on-demand technology to help. That was the topic of Chicago Tech Powers the Connected Family, a Tech in Motion panel discussion hosted by Sittercity on April 19.

“When you become a working parent — male or female — you have so little time,” said panel moderator Jennifer Owens, founder and president of Jennwork, an agency designed to support organizations focused on serving women through relatable content. “You’re looking for anything that will make your calendar work better, get your chores done, help you in your career.”

The event featured four women-led tech companies that are working to solve some of the challenges facing today’s families. Sittercity Head of Product Sandra Dainora was joined on the panel by Lisa Souter, founder of Sparkl, an on-demand, eco-friendly car wash; Desiree Vargas Wrigley, founder and CEO of Pearachute, a service that allows parents to easily manage their kids’ activities; and Allison Robinson, founder and CEO of The Mom Project, the leading technology platform for enterprise businesses to connect with female talent.

As a pioneer in connected family technology, Sittercity has been improving the way families connect with sitters and nannies since 2001. Today, Sittercity is using data and design to push the category even further. By helping parents match with the right sitters more quickly and making it easier to communicate, rebook and pay, Sittercity is making it easier than ever for families and caregivers to connect and manage their everyday relationships.

“Tech has the power to make things much, much easier for everyone—not only the sporadic need for finding a new babysitter, but the day in and day out…” — Sandra Dainora, Head of Product

“Thinking about how technology plays a role in [parents’] lives is one of the things that is driving what we are building,” said Dainora. “Child care is not a one-and-done type of event. As someone who relies on child care to balance work and life, I can say first-hand, it can be a real pain on a daily basis. This is where tech has the power to make things much, much easier for everyone — not only the sporadic need for finding a new babysitter, but the day in and day out scheduling and communications, payment…who wants to think about ATM runs when you’re coming home from cocktails?”

The challenges parents face aren’t limited to managing child care. Each year, 1 million millennials become parents, and 70 percent of moms with children under the age of 18 are working. The opportunity for technology to help has never been greater. That’s why Robinson launched The Mom Project: she realized no one was addressing the needs of qualified moms who are re-entering the workforce after taking a break to care for their children.

According to Souter, whose car wash service, Sparkl, comes to its customers, “We live in this on-demand economy where we’re used to being able to tap an app on your smartphone and book an appointment. You know, snap your fingers and things are done. Groceries are delivered, laundry is done, pet walking, whatever it is. We just want to give back time to parents, to busy professionals, to anybody, because why spend it at the car wash?”

“So many of us are working, but we’re also spending more time with our children…that means when we’re with our kids, we have more intention of making it really meaningful.” — Desiree Vargas-Wrigley, Founder & CEO of Pearachute

In fact, research shows that spending money on time-saving services contributes more to individual happiness than spending on consumer goods. Technology gives parents the tools they need to have meaningful experiences with their families.

“One thing about millennial parents is that we care about experiences more than things,” said Wrigley, who created Pearachute to streamline the process of scheduling activities for kids so families could focus on the fun instead of the frustration of figuring out what to do. “Millennial parents are busier than they’ve ever been before. So many of us are working, but we’re also spending more time with our children…that means when we’re with our kids, we have more intention of making it really meaningful.”

Ultimately, for the connected family, it’s not about the technology itself but the solutions it provides. “We believe that by making child care work better, we’re giving parents and sitters the time, freedom and peace of mind to do more of what makes them happy,” said Dainora.

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