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Parents Pause - tools for parent-child shared mindfulness, providing self-care and reducing stress.

Comunity-based and online tools to help parents and small children benefit, together, from mindfulness and connect with other parents.

Photo of Ela Compton
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Updates: How has your idea changed or evolved throughout the Prize? What updates have you made to this submission? (1500 characters)

• We incorporated participant feedback from new trials that we conducted (online ‘Zoom’ group meditations, in-person mindfulness playdates). • We’ve added a 4th module to our app: MINDFUL GAMES are relevant, age appropriate and fun exercises that parents and young children can play together. • We expanded our concept of group playdate meetings to include community centers and other public spaces, as well as private homes. • We adjusted our implementation model from app-only to one that offers parents ways to encounter and engage with our program via real-life community spaces and events. • In our home region, we’re reaching out to initiate partnerships with local community centers, day care facilities, co-working spaces and NGOs; our focus here is to provide meaningful access for parents/families with fewer resources, as well as to hear from these parents what works best for them. • Following “guidelines for facilitators” (http://familycreativelearning.org/guide/), we’re designing group meditations at community centers that also incorporate good food, with the aim of better supporting interested lower-income families through opportunities to feed body as well as mind. • We’re adding a facilitator training program to empower local community centers and organisations to run ParentsPause events, allowing our program to scale faster. • Our idea has become more tangible as we’ve explored and defined our brand (name, logo, brand personality & language, starter website). • We’ve designed a prototype of the app on paper and on screen, incorporating early feedback from our mentor and potential users. • We’re now exploring the incorporation of modern technological conveniences into the app, such as voice interacyion (Alexa/Google Home). • We have begun the process of incorporating as an LLC.

Name or Organization

ParentsPause LLC (in registration) Ela Compton Merel Geanna De Boer

Geography

Now: Seattle, WA, Oakland CA, online: U.S. and E.U. Worldwide (English and Spanish speaking).

What is your stage of development?

  • New Innovator, with less than one year of experience in ECD

Type

  • Team

What is the stage of your proposal?

  • Prototyping: I have done some small tests or experiments with prospective users to continue developing my idea.

Describe how your solution could be a game-changer for your selected Opportunity Area (600 characters)

1. SHARED MEDITATION PRACTICE with small children (modeling self care) can improve well being off all. Reducing stress in parents benefits both parent and child. 2. COLLECTING RESEARCH DATA on the effect of mindfulness on young children 0-5 and new parents. 3. Introducing mindfulness as a new form of self care to new users (parents of children 0-5 years). Making mindfulness accessible for low-income families. 4. Engaging parents in BEING instead of DOING. Enhancing nurturing, protective parent-child relationships and appropriate learning experiences provided by mindful games.

Select an Innovation Target

  • Network: Connecting people with each other to enhance the reach or effectiveness of new or existing resources.

Tell us more about your innovation (1500 characters)

ParentsPause aims to provide accessible tools and support network to help stay-at-home parents and caregivers reduce anxiety, depression and isolation, build supportive communities, help small children grow in nurturing presence of emotionally available, mindful caregiver. It builds on scientifically confirmed effectiveness of mindfulness and meditation, while addressing the particular realities and needs of those with babies and small children. Rather than encouraging caregivers to carve out time to pursue their own practice, our approach involves their child(ren) -- providing important additional benefits for all. We draw on our experience in the western U.S. (Seattle, Oakland) and Europe; we would love to be able to connect to and benefit caregivers facing similar challenges anywhere - especially those unfamiliar with mindfulness and struggling economically. ParentsPause project has two elements: • a mindfulness app for parents/caregivers and their small children, offering four different modules (parents & children meditation playdates; recorded meditations to use daily; online group meditations; mindful games to play with a child). • and a program to promote the benefits of mindfulness (particularly to low-income families) by making our practices and app easily accessible through facilitators, partnering organizations, community centers (in a group setting with parent & child meetups).

What problem are you aiming to solve? (3 sentences)

We aim to reduce STRESS (depression, anxiety) experienced by caregivers (especially in low-income families) and make them more emotionally available, nurturing for kids. We seek to guide new parents through a relatable & affirming solution to their frustrating and often debilitating ISOLATION by connecting them with others. We offer an antidote to the modern, pervasive challenge of OVER-STIMULATED & emotionally neglected kids, helping them cope better, learn impulse control, become school ready.

Explain your idea (5000 characters)

As moms of young children, we know parenting can be stressful, lonely and downright hard. Sometimes it seems you’re the only parent who does not have everything ‘together,’ and you can feel desperate for just one little moment for yourself. ParentsPause offers relief for parents in challenging moments, in ways that can actually enhance the bond between parent and child. With a focus on stress reduction, self-care and non-judgemental human connections, we provide mindfulness tools that build online and in-person community. The benefits of meditation and mindfulness are well-established, inspiring many people and and even entire organizations to adopt their practice. But newer parents, and especially stay-at-home caregivers, face challenges finding and accessing such opportunities -- not the least of which is the understandable perception that they haven’t time. This is especially unfortunate because stress poses a real threat to a secure parent-child attachment and early childhood development (as documented by the the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child). In our experience, shared mindfulness practices diffuse stress and enhance that vital attachment. ParentsPause aims to reach any and all parents of younger children (0-5 years). We are planning two primary pathways to connect with potential customers and beneficiaries. First, we’re designing an appealing mobile app with robust, practical features (see the description of modules below) that will be widely available to the vast customer base of paying smartphone users. Second, through active partnerships with local community centers and organizations, plus a growing network of community-connected facilitators, we will promote and share our helpful tools with parent audiences who might not otherwise encounter or have access to mindfulness discussions or app stores. No matter which path draws users to our program, we’re committed to offering them a full suite of useful tools and a welcoming, supportive community. The ParentsPause app consist of 4 primary modules: 1) “Meditation Playdates” - Building community and sharing experiences in-person are import to help parents overcome feelings of anxiety and isolation. This concept draws directly on our training and experience. We’ve developed a proven structure for guiding participants through 1-hour sessions. Such sessions are all about human connection, non-judgemental sharing and getting the benefits of meditation. Children are a vital part of Meditation Playdates: learning via modeling and at the same time enjoying uninterrupted play while parents get to practice mindfulness in a real-life setting with children around. NOTE: these events can be hosted and promoted through local partner centers and orgs, etc., as well as through the app. 2) “Pause & Listen” - This module provides guided meditations for parents on our app. Our particular aim here is to help stay-at-home parents deal with daily stresses and emotions through short, guided meditations. We understand that when we’re more capable to cope with stress, our emotional intelligence improves and we better connect with and appreciate our children -- who, in turn, benefit and learn from our example. And so we will support parents to be accepting and being present even in stressful moments -- think “Tantrum Antidote,” or “Colicky Baby Whispering”... 3) “Online Group Meditation” - These are live, online meet-ups for parents that take place once per week, after children’s bedtime. Here we focus on self-care and sharing between parents. Participants go through a guided meditation that responds directly to the needs expressed by the session participants; then the parent participants share and discuss their experiences of mediation practices and parenthood; and the session ends with a short Loving-Kindness meditation. 4) Mindful Games - This consists of parent and child mindfulness exercises that tie into daily activities, and are easy and fun to do together -- think “Putting away Toys and Worries,” “Solid Solids,”Less Stress While Getting Dressed,” etc. Here we are focusing on appropriate learning experiences and creating nurturing, protective relationships. Both child and parent can learn, together, how to be in the present moment and deal with inevitable stress in a resilient way. Our approach is secular, non-religious, and open to anyone. We strive to create community based on participating with open mind and heart. Our families and broader communities will benefit from our collected practice and values of vulnerability, deep listening, lack of judgement, and being in the present.

Who benefits? (1500 characters)

1) Children: Research has shown that toxic stress in early childhood is associated with persistent effects on the nervous system and stress hormone systems that can damage developing brain architecture and lead to lifelong problems in learning, behavior, and both physical and mental health (The Science of Early Childhood Development. (2007). PP aims to bring relief to stressed, anxious and isolated parents: in doing so helping create nurturing, safe, healthy environment for children. Having a more present, emotionally available parent, who also models coping skills, may be one of the biggest benefits that PP aims to provide. Modeling healthy “being” instead of “doing”. 2) Low income families: Benefits of mindfulness in reducing stress and anxiety symptoms in adults is well known and scientifically proven. Knowing that economical struggles can cause excessive stress especially to new parents, we want to cater to low-income families specifically (Baer (2003) concludes that mindfulness-based interventions ‘may bring participants with mild to moderate psychological distress into or close to the normal range’ (p. 137)) 3) Stay-at-home parents/full-time caregivers: Parents benefit by becoming more skilled in dealing with daily life stress. They become more emotionally available. They’ll be open to greater insight into their child as well as them themselves. And more importantly have an opportunity to connect with other parents in safe and nonjudgmental atmosphere.

What kind of impact will your idea have? (1500 characters)

Our concept has great potential to catalyze positive change for children and parents alike, and so can make meaningful contributions to the longer-term health and well-being of individuals and their communities. As proven by many studies, meditation -- silent, mindful pause -- is beneficial for adults (parents) thus creates nurturing environment for babies/toddlers giving them sound start in life. Mindfulness practice is especially beneficial when it’s shared with others (Semple (2006)). It opens up opportunity for meaningful connection to happen -- with oneself, with one’s child, and with fellow parents. Our network and platform will facilitate local community building and provide tools to guide meditation through a child- and self-care focus. Our toolbox and facilitation program will provide access to those benefits more broadly. The impact we hope to have is that stressed parents can calm their minds and feel more connected (to themselves, their children and community), be in the present moment, and learn with and from their child(ren). We also prioritize providing children safe space they need for exploration and uninterrupted play. By being together, the adults model sound habits, openness, availability, and emotional intelligence. Long-lasting benefits will include multiple generations of people who deal with stress in a more mindful way; who display enhanced creativity, confidence and compassion; and who share the values of connection, community and appreciation

How does or how could your idea impact low-income children? (1500 characters)

1) Less stressed parents, less stress in home environment “Toxic stress in early childhood can damage developing brain architecture and lead to lifelong problems. (The Science of Early Childhood Development.”(2007) Mindfulness decreases stress and enhances self-compassion (Shapiro: S.L.,. international Journal of Stress Management 2005, Vol. 12, No. 2, 164) 2) Modeling stress management to children “Children model their parents’ behaviors: parents who cope with stress in healthy ways can not only promote better adjustment and happiness for themselves, but also promote the formation of critically important habits and skills in children” (Managing stress for a healthy family, APA) 3) Having a more mindful parent, more emotionally available parent “Differences in parenting behavior play an important role in creating and sustaining income-based gaps in children’s cognitive and non-cognitive skills. Programs for parents aimed at increasing mindfulness,(-), may help reduce the cognitive demands of stress, increase parents’ focus and attention on their children, and promote their children’s successful development.”. (Fostering Mindfulness in Low-income Parents of Young Children) 4) Playing Mindful games together, creates nurturing parent-child relation is an direct positive social interaction and teaching mindfulness principles. “Resilience requires relationships, not rugged individualism (Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University (2016))

Innovation: What makes your concept innovative? (5000 characters)

1. It offers mindfulness SHARED with very small kids (0-3) with mutual benefits. 2. Implementation network for ParentPause app - trained facilitators, in-person group meetings INTRODUCING mindfulness as a form of self-care to new users, making mindfulness/ meditation accessible to less affluent parents (MBSR course is expensive, meditation classes are too, and what to do with the child if you wanted to go there?) also "mindfulness" or "meditation" are not top-of-mind search/reference terms for some groups. 3. Voice interaction (google home/amazon echo etc.) with ParentsPause app makes a group/individual mindful experience seamless and accessible both for parents and toddlers. 4. Promotes healthy BEING with child (0-5) instead of DOING/ACHEIVING, over-scheduling etc. Building solid nurturing ground for future education.

Scale: Describe how your idea could reach a significant number of end-users. (1500 characters)

ParentsPause tools and resources would be community, web and app based. They would attract participants based on their interests and needs -- meditation for parents, mindfulness, stress reduction, community connection, etc. We want to design our program to support parents/caregivers in reaching out to find others in their neighborhoods and communities, meaning that users themselves would be motivated to expand the user base. PP aims to reach any and all parents of younger children (0-5 years). We are planning two primary pathways to connect with potential customers and beneficiaries. First, we’re designing an appealing mobile app with robust, practical features (see the description of modules below) that will be widely available to the vast customer base of paying smartphone users. We can expand this group through promotions, partnering with parenting organisations, online Zoom meetings etc. Second, through active partnerships with local community centers and organizations, plus a growing network of community-connected facilitators, we will promote and share our helpful tools with parent audiences who might not otherwise encounter or have access to mindfulness discussions or app stores. No matter which path draws users to our program, we’re committed to offering them a full suite of useful tools and a welcoming, supportive community. We can expand this audience program through direct promotion with and by community partners, service orgs, free publications and more.

Feasibility: Where are you with understanding the feasibility of your idea? Describe what you’ve done so far and your plans. (3000 characters)

We have: - interaction, content and graphic design of the app (tested/ redesigned - work in progress) - pre-recorded meditations (work in progress, some tested) in English - zoom meditations for adults (tested with successful feedback) - in-person group practices (tested and refined) - branding: name, domain, logo, brand communication style - starter website, email - training program for facilitators (work in progress) We plan to: - develop the app - rebuild website - promote the app and commercial playdate group meditations to middle class parents (through positive parenting/ attachment parenting classes, yoga centers, parents organisations, like PEPS etc. and online) - reach out to NGOs, community centers, preschools, other parenting groups to partner with and introduce our program to less affluent families - this will also become an implementation network for the app (free for low-income families) - start facilitator trainings - translate PP to other languages (Spanish, ?)

Business Viability: How viable is your business model? (5000 characters)

ParentsPause app will have free and paid features. Mindfulness and meditation classes/apps are in high demand lately. There is a gap in mindful parenting with small children. We hope to exceed Headspace success with paid features and be able to offer our community-based program -- facilitator trainings and group mindful playdates (parents & kids) for the most vulnerable social groups -- free of charge. We expect to use data gathered from our users (via app interactions and surveys) to improve our service and possibly feed research, etc.

HCD: How have you used human centered design to build or refine your concept? (5000 characters)

We tested everything on us and our kids and other parents: 1. Trial meditation playdates with kids (variating kids temperaments & motoric, different environments: outdoor/indoor, semiprivate, private spaces) with feedback at the end. 2. Name, logo, designs tested and discussed with mentor, participants. 3. App functionalities discussed and reiterated with playdates participants. 4. Partnering with organisations - in progress (we are reaching out to more: Parent-Child.org, uwkc.org) to gather knowledge of what is needed and how we can best tailor PP facilitator training to serve low income communities. 5. User journey (and touch points) - we figured we need partners (organisations, individuals) to effectively reach less educated and lower income families. 6. User personas - we analysed who are people that might use ParentsPause.

Tell us more about you (3000 characters)

In 2016, we -- Ela and Merel -- both found ourselves feeling isolated as stay-at-home parents in Seattle, each having moved here recently with our own baby in tow. While grateful for having the choice to be full-time moms, we each were craving opportunities to pause, to meditate, and to connect with like-minded parents. We met during the fall of that year in a “mommy and baby” yoga class, where we discussed our common interests and challenges. Seeking solutions, we found other yoga/dance/music/storytime classes, PEPS groups, and co-op preschools. But there were no meditation groups available for parents with babies or tots. Inspired by our near-desperation, we decided to try meditation with our crawling babies in the room. To our surprise it worked great! Not only did we feel more relaxed, rested, calm, present and connected, but our kids seemed to benefit in the same way. We found that our relationship with the kids was renewed each time as we regained a fuller appreciation for them. We found that our practice created a space for us grownups to look within ourselves, connect and open up to each other on a deeper level. It also created conditions for our kids to explore and play on their own terms; they interacted and resolved their conflicts in ways surprising or unclear to us, but satisfying to them. Each was free to reconnect with her parent when and how she needed, whether coming by for a quick look/touch, or cuddling on the lap/ nursing/ hanging on. As our daughters grew over the past year, new challenges arose (like potty training!), but every time we were surprised how beautifully and gracefully everything clicked into place when we adults were present and receptive. Our meditation group expanded a little as we were joined by a couple of other moms, but remained small and private for intimacy and manageability. As we continued our shared practice, we felt a desire to share what we were experiencing and spread the word. We wanted to meet more parents in our neighborhoods who might be interested in meditating with their children -- to sit with them, stroll with them (walking meditation), even meet with them online as a bigger group (through a tool like Zoom) to meditate and share after our kids’ bedtime. So we imagined a platform, including a mobile app, to provide information and tools to introduce parents to the benefits of mindfulness; plus, of course, a means to connect with other area parents in their area in person or online. This could potentially be used anywhere. Through our practice, we’ve gained insights into how we feel, who our children are, and our parenting patterns -- such as tendencies to unnecessarily react or instruct. We are excited to invite parents/caregivers of small children to this journey of self discovery in their relevant context, including modeling human interaction with presence and emotional self-awareness -- “being” rather than “doing.”

Do you have the people and partners you need to do what you’ve described? (600 characters)

We have some resources. Ela is an accomplished entrepreneur, an experienced branding and service designer with UI/UX skills, and a mother of a two-year-old. Merel is a MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction) instructor with a background in social science, and a mother of a one-and-a-half-year-old. We have connections with web developers/programmers and designers. But we need some help… (see next)

As you consider your next steps, what kinds of help could you use? Is there a type of expertise that would be most helpful? (1800 characters)

We need business and legal expertise: - to help us craft a detailed business model (how to most appropriately and cleverly build this platform, and how to make it work and grow in a sustainable way -- how to finance it in the long run) - to help with legal business, privacy/personal safety related issues.

Would you like mentoring support?

  • Yes

If so, what type of mentoring support do you think you need? (1200 characters)

(see text above) Business, Legal

Are you willing to share your email contact information submitted on OpenIDEO with Gary Community Investments?

  • Yes, share my contact information

[Optional] Biography: Upload your biography. Please include links to relevant information (portfolio, LinkedIn profile, organization website, etc).

www.parentspause.com

[Optional] Attachments: Please upload relevant attachments or graphics or show us how you prototyped.

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Good idea! I hope that your proposal will be achieve and help with good communication between children and parents. And maybe in the future it also can help me to take care of my child.

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