There was once a time, a simpler time, when we lived in connected communities. People looked out for each other, talked over the backyard fence and developed likeminded friendship groups built around similar life-stages and trust. We developed networks of friends, families, neighbours and interest groups like footy clubs that supported one another and made the sometimes challenging task of navigating our way through life a little easier.
A lot has changed over the past 10 years and family units and friendship groups have been put to the test in a variety of ways. It’s certainly a far cry from the 1950’s style nuclear family where Mum ran the household while Dad went off to work. The lines of responsibility have gone way past blurred – they overlap. Mum and Dad juggling to keep the household on an even keel. Opportunities to establish and maintain important and supportive friendships have been outsourced to Facebook.
Our lives are simply too busy, we don’t have time anymore to invest in the types of ‘networks’ we used to rely upon to help each other out.
So we’ve had to find new ways to manage some of the tasks that would otherwise slip through the cracks. Social platforms like Facebook provide us with the illusion of a harmonious and full set of buddies, just don’t expect you can rely on those buddies to help you out when needed.
Technology and the digital age have certainly stepped in to help. There are thousands of once time consuming tasks that can now be performed on your smartphone whilst riding the train to work. But there are certain physical tasks that technology just can’t fix. Or can it?
A new ride-sharing service for kids, Stretch, is testing just how far we’ve progressed when it comes to our hectic lives and the security of our kids. Stretch allows parents of children 6 and up to schedule drivers to pick-up and drop-off their kids when they’re too stretched to manage it themselves. A daughter at netball and a son at swimming lessons right at the same time? Stretch will help juggle both by providing police checked, qualified and, as Trump put it, 'extreme vetted' drivers to perform pick-ups and drop-offs as required. They’ll even wait around to keep an eye on kids, just like a babysitter, if needs be.
The service is currently operating in Sydney, where hectic lives are the new norm. A similar scheme, HopSkipDrive, has been operating in Los Angeles for a couple of years and grown significantly in popularity. So how far have we come in our willingness to put our most cherished little darlings into the hands of strangers?
One of Stretch's founders, Preya McMahon, is betting that we've come a fair way. The mother of three says that the leap isn't such a great one.
"Raising my kids, I would often wind up agreeing to a car pool with some distant friend for one of my kids. It felt safe because there was a vague connection, but really, I had no idea whether they were a safe driver or not".Preya McMahon
Stretch is already in demand. Single parents with high pressure jobs, as well as married couples whose kids have commitments in Parramatta, Randwick and Paddington all at the same time. As well as parents who are just tired of always being the one asking a favour.
"We have one customer whose daughter is picked up and dropped off from school every day", says McMahon.
"Our drivers are mostly mothers. They often meet with their young passengers in advance and make sure there's a comfort level. And they'll 'go the extra mile' too, stopping on route to pick up an essential hair net from the chemist before a ballet recital if necessary".
Change is rarely comfortable. Demand for the Stretch service however, would suggest perhaps we're just a little more prepared for it than we might have thought.
This article originally appeared on CarsGuide.