*By Seow Lim, entrepreneur, successful high tech executive with track records of building businesses, a mom of two boys*
Working mom challenges
The first step towards Povi came out of my life as a busy working mom with a demanding career. It seemed like I was always busy going quickly from one thing to the next and juggling my career with parenting. I always tried to pick up my kids from school each day and tried to switch gears from work issues to my kid lives when I met them. But it was not easy. The stresses of work and chores at home resulted in less than optimal connection with my kids on a daily basis. I was always there for them, encouraging them in their academics and extra-curricular activities but something was missing.
Fast forward two years
My parenting has changed. I have more conversations with my sons everyday. I look for ideas from their world to start meaningful conversations. A simple example, when I saw a child crying at the library, I told them this story: "I was at the library today and I saw a little girl crying. She was lost and looking for her mom. I went to help her. Luckily her mom was looking for her too. What would you do if you were this little girl?" After some contemplation, my older son replied, "I would be really scared too but I wouldn't cry."
Another time it was something I heard on the news: "On the news today, I heard about this old man with Alzheimer who got lost, and somebody helped him find his way home. Have you helped anyone today?" My son younger replied "Yes! I helped my friends chase bees away by throwing the soccer ball at them."
The stories and scenarios are endless and we all know them. But previously, at the end of the day, when my brain was tired, practicing these open-ended, reflective conversations with my kids was not easy. Now in my avatar as a reformed tiger mom, they love sharing their feelings! They both do it so differently and it amazes me. I was so happy when my usually reserved teenager said to me, "Mommy, you've changed. Before, you just asked me about my school work. Now you really let me do what I am interested in and support me in it."
My 8 year old boy is more direct. Everyday, he asks, "Mommy, could you talk to me when I am taking my shower?" and at bed time if I haven't started a conversation, he says "Mommy, do you have something you want to talk to me about?" or "Mommy, I have a secret to tell you today." It's at times like this that I know that the habit of thoughtful conversation with my kids for the last 2 years have worked.
Others helped me, I can help others too
In the beginning, I had thought that the solution would be a really smart robot with computer vision and voice recognition capabilities that would get kids to open up. But a lot of user research and my gut feel made me question whether interacting with another digital device or robot was the solution. No, I want my kids to talk to me, interact with me and connect and share human emotions.
That's why Povi is cuddly, furry and soft and he speaks like another child!
There are still many features we want to add to Povi, our app and the content platform, including messaging to consult expert teachers and psychologists on the platform.
Our plan is to make 5000 Povi and sell them on Kickstarter on May 24th. Please help me make Povi a reality. Support us on Kickstarter. http://www.povi.me/waitlist.html
Written by The Povi Team
P.S.: Seow Lim was joined in her mission for EI by a bunch of us who are inspired by her. She took a personal parenting challenge and actually created a product to help solve this. And what's more this is a problem that is so relevant today where a lot of us parents are so busy and our kids are precariously digitally inclined.
We are seasoned psychologists, counsellors, software engineers, a creative designer, a journalist, a user research specialist and toy industry veterans and we are hoping you will love Povi and Povi's mission as much as we do!