What we’re learning from parents: We’re juggling, sharing, and want to connect

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By ParentsTogether National Team

“I just started carpooling with a parent after three years of our kids being best friends and going to the same school. We just needed to get motivated to do so—the option was there this whole time.”

We can’t think of a better way to describe our work at ParentsTogether than what we heard from this respondent to the national survey we conducted online in March 2014. Like so many of you, we sometimes find ourselves reluctant to ask for help– not wanting to burden other parents whose lives are at least as busy as ours. And yet when we do, it lightens the load for everyone and makes all of our lives a little better.  

ParentsTogether wants to change the way we think about parenting in the US. As parents ourselves, we know that the old ways aren’t working, that going it alone is not sustainable (or enjoyable), and that we really are all in this together. We know that by connecting with each other we can not only support one another in the short term, but change the policies and practices that impact families in the long term.

We started by asking hundreds of parents across the US–from Kentucky to California–what matters to them, where they are struggling the most, and how we can best serve them. The results both surprised and delighted us. We heard loudly and clearly that parents are already supporting each other but that those connections could be deepened–that we could help each other even more. Read on to see more about what we learned.

We’re already each other’s best resources.

We suspected that parents were each other’s most trusted resource, which our survey results confirmed. For parents with children of all ages, the group we most often reach out to for advice on parenting is— you guessed it— other parents. Conversely, doctors and pediatricians rated last for parenting advice with just 4% of respondents regularly seeking advice from their healthcare providers.

We like to share.

We are already supporting each other in a number of ways including providing advice, making referrals, and organizing playdates. We’re also sharing. A lot. Over 92% of respondents reported borrowing or sharing something— clothes, toys, and books coming in first, second, and third respectively.

How can we better support each other? By connecting locally, and in person.

In spite of the demands on our time, we are overwhelmingly interested in connecting more in person with 92% of parents reporting they would like to engage more with each other offline. And while expectant parents were especially interested in connecting with parents with similar due dates, it’s clear from all parents that we don’t know our neighbors well enough and that local connections are the ones parents want most.

Our biggest challenge? Juggling it all.

Not a surprise, but the biggest concern for respondents was ‘juggling it all’ with an incredible 80% of respondents saying they felt they didn’t have enough time frequently or all the time–higher than finding childcare, quality schools, and financial concerns. Parents also said the reason they didn’t reach out to other parents is that they’re too busy (36%) —but also because they don’t have a way to connect (26%), something ParentsTogether wants to change.

As we embark on the audacious goal of uniting millions of parents across the country we will continue to ask how we can help you and how can you can help each other. We hope you will join us!

ParentsTogether is a 501 (c)3 nonprofit community of over 3 million parents, caregivers, and advocates working together to make the world a better place for all children and families.

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