Exhausted Aussie mum-of-three Michelle Forster creates app called myWhānau to help organise her children’s busy lives.
Michelle Forster was barely coping with the crazy juggle of her corporate job and three busy kids. She found she’d be spending at least 30 minutes a day organise their activities before rushing off to the office, where she was working up to 60 hours a week.
“It was everything from children’s sport, special days at school, permission slips and excursions. Eventually the juggling just got too much for me and I wanted to find a way to help myself and help others too,” Michelle says.
Michelle found it a real struggle to spend time sorting out the kids with all the forms and scheduling, as it just added to the hours she was already working. The stress was overwhelming and that’s when she realised something had to change.
“I thought, if I’m struggling, I’m sure other parents are struggling too,” Michelle says.
“Then, I saw an app called “Tripit” where you can organise all your travel plans. I also noticed Apple was starting to translate dates and put them into your calendar. So, I thought, ‘Why can’t we do this for family schedules and really automate the process?’ So it was that way of thinking that really got me started.”
Michelle, a New Zealander living in Sydney, created myWhānau (based on the Maori word for extended family) as the ultimate family backup.
myWhānau is the first calendar assistant app that ‘automates’ your family calendar; taking on the role of a virtual personal assistant for your family’s scheduling.
It works by automatically adding your family’s events and tasks, saving time and frustration building your calendar. myWhānau automatically creates entries for school events, parent tasks and any activities outside of school, sourcing them directly from emails, portals and websites. Your calendar is 100 percent personalised for you and your family.
Michelle was so inspired to make myWhānau a reality, she quit her job and launched the pilot in July, 2019, testing it on 21 families using the google calendar.
“I was still using automations behind the scenes but the families were using Google calendar, which worked as a preliminary MVP. This was great, as it didn’t cost me anything but my time. It showed me what my customers were needing, what they liked and what they didn’t like,” Michelle says.
“So, I had customers using it for a year and loving it, giving me great insights. Then I officially launched the app in October 2020, designed specifically for parents’ needs and dedicated to making their lives more stress-free.”
There is currently no similar family assistance app on the market; Michelle believes the reason a “life saving” app like myWhanau is so desperately needed is because the industry is dominated by men, who might not quite get the “pain” that many mothers go through trying to organise their children’s lives.
“My long-term mission to save parents ten hours a week that they spend on chores. Currently the app is being used across 26 schools in Australia and New Zealand but in two years, I hope to have 300 schools using myWhanau and making life so much easier for all.”