Mobile apps that help parents are becoming increasingly popular as working mums and dads around the world look to take shortcuts in a bid to make their busy lives more efficient. One of the places these apps are proving most popular is Silicon Valley.
This is partly because tech giants like Apple and Google are trying to tempt their employees to stay at the office for as long as possible by providing them with everything they could possibly need, from gyms and jacuzzis to meals and mindfulness sessions. When employees do escape the office, there's often still work to be done.
"I think there’s a second shift for parents like me," said Sara Varni (pictured), a vice president at Salesforce in San Francisco and a mother of three. "You go home so you can spend some quality time with your kids and have dinner and then you sign on when you get there. You don’t have to but I’m someone that likes to be responsive to my team and I don’t want to be a bottleneck for them."
Faced with these time limitations, Varni has come up with innovative ways to better manage her time.
Varni, who has been a Salesforce employee for eight years, said she has adopted several mobile apps and online services that make her life easier. Many of these are built by Silicon Valley startups, which means they're often launched in San Francisco first, before being expanded out to markets like the UK.
"I joke that I’ve in some ways outsourced my life with all these new technologies," she said while on a trip to London. "There’s a boom right now, especially in the Valley. I can outsource my laundry, I order groceries from Amazon Fresh. I use Munchery to get take out food that’s better than Dominos. Some of that stuff is really life saving."
She added: "I’ve been using this service called Blue Apron which is kind of meals ready to go where everything is portioned so all you have to do is cook it. It saves you money in the sense that I don’t have to go buy like a big thing of ginger for example.
"Why waste my time doing that if someone else can do it just as well and it’s not breaking the bank. It means I can pick up my daughter from school or go to soccer practice."
But are other Silicon Valley parents taking the same approach? "Totally", according to Varni.
Many of the sharing economy apps coming out of Silicon Valley are taking off globally but the UK government is currently reviewing the impact they have after Uber and Airbnb proved controversial. The issue is far from straight forward because on the one hand they stand to make people's lives a lot easier but on the other they're disrupting well established businesses, be it in the taxi industry or the hotel market.