When Tonya Parker, a mom in Illinois, wanted to better organize her family life a little over a year ago, the first thing she did was set her kids up on Trello, a web-based project-management tool. Parker’s four children, ages 9 to 18, now use Trello, which is more typically used at work, to keep up with chores, to-do lists, shopping, and homework. “I use it every day to keep track of what schoolwork I need to do, or places I need to be, things to buy,” Hannah, her 15-year-old daughter, says.
“College was my first experience of having to keep track of my own stuff,” Tonya said. “I wanted [my kids] to have that sooner.” Incorporating Trello, along with Gmail, into the Parker family’s life has been a godsend, in Tonya’s view. It streamlined family communication, helped keep everyone organized, and added a layer of accountability to tasks. Now, instead of wondering if her children forgot to do something, Parker says she can ask, “How are you doing on your checklist?”
Children’s free-play time has been on the decline for more than 50 years, and their participation in extracurricular activities has led to more schedule-juggling for parents. Parents are busier too, especially those whose jobs demand ever more attention after hours: 65 percent of parents with a college degree have trouble balancing work and family, a 2015 Pew Research Center report found, compared with about half of those without a college degree. In an effort to cope, some families are turning to software designed for offices. Parents are finding project-management platforms such as Trello, Asana, and Jira, in addition to Slack, a workplace communication tool (its slogan is “Where work happens”), particularly useful in their personal lives. In other words, confronted with relentless busyness, some modern households are starting to run more like offices.