WORKS

Flying Solo: Basecamp for Families via Community Dinner

This was a submission to Open IDEO’s “Early Childhood Innovation Prize” in February 2018. After this submission I was paired with a mentor and we discussed the viability of this idea.

The goal is to help parents when they’re “flying solo” with the care of young children. How often do parents have dinner alone with their child, yet desire some companionship and socializing in a welcoming and cost-effective space? This was my submission on the Open IDEO challenge website

After this submission I was paired with a mentor and we discussed the viability of this idea.

Describe how your solution could be a game-changer for your selected Opportunity Area

The care and attention that very small children need from their caregiver(s) can be both mentally and physically exhausting. Kids learn through play, and adults find relief and positive energy from the shared experience of family dinner, song and dance. Especially for those parents that lack a strong local family network, it would be a game-changer for there to be a reliable, fun, family-friendly communication network as well as a physical space to connect locally with other parents and supporters.

More about the innovation

Flying Solo aims to apply the principles of community, nutrition and exercise to build a service to address the lack of support, isolation and confusion that often accompany parents that need a social network to feel supported and strong. Within the “Insights and Recommendations” guide for supporting parents, there appeared to be encouragement to find the right technologies to help parents. This is due to the fact that technology—particularly those that use the open internet and disseminates information via a mobile device—opens up a service or product to a wider audience.

There is a particular process to the intent of this networking solution. It is as follows: 1) Welcome (Inclusion) 2) Interaction (Emotional Well-being, possibly all via technological communication) 3) Physical Participation (Exercise, Nutrition, Health) 4) Foundation Local Participation (Building Community)

Aiming to solve what problem?

Flying Solo aims to apply the principles of community, nutrition and exercise to build a service to address the lack of support, isolation and confusion that often accompany parents that need a social network to feel supported and strong. Within the “Insights and Recommendations” guide for supporting parents, there appeared to be encouragement to find the right technologies to help parents. This is due to the fact that technology—particularly those that use the open internet and disseminates information via a mobile device—opens up a service or product to a wider audience. There is a particular process to the intent of this networking solution. It is as follows: 1) Welcome (Inclusion) 2) Interaction (Emotional Well-being, possibly all via technological communication) 3) Physical Participation (Exercise, Nutrition, Health) 4) Foundation Local Participation (Building Community)

Explain the idea

The goal is to help parents when they’re “flying solo” with the care of very young children. So how often do you have dinner by yourself? This sounds like such a simple thing, but I think it is important issue and is of great significance to some people. Having dinner by yourself is just an example, and it may be surprising to some to say that if you have a young child with you you’re not alone. But the level of communication between a young child and their caretaker can be so great that spoken communication can feel one-sided. During the earliest years caregiving for a young child can be gloriously uplifting yet physically strenuous and lonely. Therefore it’s of great importance for a mother, father, or caretaker to feel like there’s someone to genuinely communicate with - another person to complete the conversation. Supporting people that are in the midst of raising a child has a number of challenges.

Time is an issue! Because many parents/caregivers work full-time and feel that the only time they get to see their child is in the evening after work; they want that time to be relaxing and meaningful. Weekend visits can be interrupted easily by concerns about nap schedules. Physical energy is a problem, mainly because there is often a lack of sleep that accompanies the breastfeeding of a baby and the needy temperament of a toddler. For some people, their needs just might be able to be satisfied with a phone call. Others have family or well-established friendships that allow for adult-to-adult dialogue.

Still other people might join an organization and feel that their social needs are met. However, there are many situations where a parent/caregiver feels physically tied to their home. Children often are in bed by 8PM, therefore without very trusted and affordable childcare leaving a child to pursue adult interaction is a challenge. I would like to start with finding out what kind of support, environment and activities are desired by parents and caregivers. This might involve informal interviews with single or “solo” parents at a handful of organizations that cater to supporting this demographic. After confirming that certain services or communication is in fact needed and desired, I would set about finding out how best to communicate with the parents/caregivers. Once the communication is established, a series of in-person activities could be setup on a local level.