It was 8:15 in the morning and I was driving my parents to a doctor appointment when I got a call from my husband who was dropping off our kids at school. “Weren’t we supposed to bring flowers to school this morning?” I confidently answered, “Don’t worry, they are for the Open House tonight, I’ll buy them later”. A few minutes later my phone buzzed again. “Honey, the flowers were supposed to be there this morning. It was in the school email.” I was sure the flowers were meant for the Open House later that night. I had read the entire blurb about Open House and even marked it in my calendar. When I got home, I scanned the entire email again and found the one line about the flowers at the very bottom of the lengthy email. I felt guilty and embarrassed that I missed it and knew my kids would grill me about why they were the only kids without the flowers this morning. How could one little line at the bottom of an email cause such a big problem for me? Yet it was not the first time. Or the last.
I have two great kids in Kindergarten and 2nd grade. Despite working full-time, I try my best to be involved in my kids’ school lives. I write everything down – sometimes twice – to make sure I’m there for both of them. With two kids, a busy job, a family, and other personal commitments I find it very hard to keep track of things. With constant emails from my kids’ school it is almost impossible for me not to miss something. I constantly live in fear that I will forget something important and when I do, I feel guilty.
The first time it happened, I asked myself, “Isn’t there an app for this? In this day and age, isn’t there an app for everything?” Instead of one app, I found lots of apps and lots of websites, each for one aspect of what I needed to do as a parent. Ironically, technology was making my life as a parent harder rather than easier. For everything I needed to do, I had to get yet another app with yet another username and password.
The more I talked with other parents and teachers, the more I realized I wasn’t alone. A prominent Silicon Valley executive complained that as a Dad of three young kids, he is constantly on “reply all” email threads about who is going to bring what to the next school event. A working Mom in Louisiana said her school does the volunteer sign ups by posting a sign up sheet on the school door. After writing her name down, she takes a picture of the sign up sheet and emails it to herself. A teacher in my son’s class said she could not share the hundreds of pictures she had taken throughout the year because she can not do it via email (it’s not considered secure) and she is not technical enough to create a password-protected website to share them.
That’s why I’m creating SimplyCircle, a service designed to help parents and teachers communicate in a stress-free way. Teachers can post updates, share pictures, invite parents to volunteer, send reminders, all in one place – safely and securely. And parents get their calendars-at-a-glance, digests and reminders so that they don’t miss another event or forget to bring flowers to school ever again.