Are You a Millennial Mom?
Our generation is raising kids differently. A big part of that is because we are faced with many situations that our parents weren’t.
I can’t remember the first time I heard the term “millennial mom” or “millennial.” To be honest, I didn’t actually think the term applied to me. I thought it was the generation after me. What I do remember is that I didn’t care for it. Something about it rubbed me the wrong way and I wasn’t sure why. (I’ll explain more on this later).
What I do know is that other mom’s similar to me in age (25-35), are raising our kids a little differently than how we were raised (well, maybe a lot differently). I was curious why there’s been such a huge shift in our parenting approach so I did a little research.
What is a millennial anyway?
It’s typically defined as someone born in the mid-80’s to late-90’s and let’s just say, the millennial’s are starting to take over – both as parents and in the workforce. According to the Pew Research Center, they analyzed data from the U.S. Census Bureau and found that more than one in three working Americans is a millennial (35%).
What’s most interesting to me about millennial’s is that we are growing up with social media – and I don’t mean that the way it sounds. The generation before us wasn’t raised with it at all. Social media wasn’t on a parents radar yet and it’s something they never had to deal with.
The generation after the millennial’s is growing up with certain technology and social media from day one. Most of them know how to use an iPad by the time they are eighteen months old.
Millennial’s, however, are growing up with social media and technology. By that, I mean that we are the generation it’s being introduced to first and we are the first generation of parents to raise kids that will know the term Instagram by the time they’re two or three.
We seem to be right in the middle of a big shift in the world with the internet and social media as well as diet. Millennial’s grew up with minimal television, played outside most of the time and had to go to a store with actual film and wait for our pictures to get developed. Our parent’s weren’t as worried about knowing where we were 24/7, we could ride our bikes without helmets and there were no cell phones to constantly check in with. It was a different world and a different time.
Now, the new generation is growing up with a whole world of technology that never existed for millennial’s when we were kids. “Social media” was a term that was completely foreign. Facebook was just barely being introduced and it was only to college students at first.
So, how does technology and social media affect millennial parents?
A big part of being a millennial mom is figuring out how to raise kind, independent, resilient kids in a completely different world than what we grew up in (all while trying to stay off our phone in front of our kids, on the phone enough to stay caught up with work and social media, figuring out what to cook, buying more healthy, organic foods, working and oh yeah – finding some alone time, whatever that is.)
And since there is no parenting manual, we’re left with a little bit of trial and error as well as relying on each other (which millennial’s do much more than any other previous generation).
Millennial moms rely on and trust each other more than traditional media. Many moms today feel misunderstood by traditional media and tend to use the internet, social media and blogs to connect with each other. They also rely on online reviews for just about everything (i.e.: Amazon, Yelp, etc.).
Technology (mainly the internet and streaming sources like Netflix, with lots of awesome documentaries) have also given millennial’s a gateway to information instantly and many of us have used that to our advantage.
Most parents I know today have educated themselves on many things related to parenting, diet and healthy living. If you look at what millennial’s grew up eating for dinner versus what children of millennial’s are eating, you will see a huge difference. Millennial mom’s tend to me more educated in what is healthy and what a balanced diet is. For example, our parent’s grew up giving us lots of juice because they thought that was healthy at the time. Now, we know it is mostly sugar and best in moderation.
What are some stereotypical characteristics of a millennial mom?
- Try to feed children mostly organic food and make their own baby food.
- Believe in baby-wearing (the practice of carrying a baby in a carrier or sling on you much of the day).
- Are very tech-savvy.
- Are very educated.
- Believe in self-care and alone time (away from kids).
- Do things differently than their parents.
- Believe in a softer parenting approach, often referred to as parenting with respect.
- Engage with their kids in different, creative ways.
- Are addicted to their phones, social media and take A LOT of pictures.
- They feel the need to schedule lots of activities for their kids.
- Are hard workers and competitive as hell.
- They care more about the quality of a product than the price.
- Are having their kids at a later age.
After reading many different blog posts about millennial’s and millennial mom’s, all of the above seem to be common stereotypes of the “millennial mom” (or I should really be saying millennial parent as it applies to both moms and dads).
I’m sure you may agree with some and not others. I know I do. What it really comes down to is that what we are choosing to focus on is the same – millennial mom’s are still a generation dedicated to raising genuinely good, kind children just as I’m sure our parents were. How we’re going about doing that, though, seems to be what’s different.
Why I don’t care for the term “millennial”
Given all of this information, I am not a fan of being labeled a millennial. While many of the characteristics above do apply to me, there are some negative stereotypes about millennial’s that I don’t like.
Many people in the generation before us view millennial’s as entitled and “soft.” For example, it’s become common to give out trophies to all of the participants of something (i.e. a baseball game or any kind of competition). Previously, the winner or winning team would be the only ones to receive trophies and that was that.
I’ve spoken with many people a generation older and I can’t tell you how many times I have heard older people complain about this. They think we are creating a generation of entitled, soft kids that will come to expect something for nothing. They feel that we are not instilling as much of a work ethic that they instilled in us and we are “babying” our kids.
It can often feel like the older generation just doesn’t understand our parenting style – and they don’t. How could they? We are being faced with many challenges that they weren’t. Unfortunately, many of them frown upon some of our new ways of parenting and it can feel like they are judging our every move but that’s okay. We will never have everyone on the same page. All we can do is our best with what we have and with what we are faced with.
My experience as a millennial mom so far
I remember vividly the first time I saw my oldest daughter swipe through an iPad like a pro. She was barely over a year old. That’s the first memory I have of really thinking that I was raising my child in a very different time than when I grew up. I also remember reading tons and tons of blog posts and different articles about the effects of screen time on our kids.
There are a lot of benefits that come with having technology readily at our fingertips. Technology can be an excellent tool (when used properly) to teach our kids different skills.
However, I think the biggest challenge for millennial parents is finding the right balance between it all. Every family is different and every child is different. What works for one family might not work for another.
I am currently staying at home with both of my children and some of the biggest challenges I’m faced with daily are keeping up with housework, working on my blog, trying to find enough time to play and engage with my kids, trying to calm a teething baby, navigating the school system (since this is new for me) all while trying not to lose myself in the process.
Much of this is very traditional family stuff. The difference is the technology that’s infused into every aspect of what we do.
My best advice for millennial moms
Alone Time and Date Nights
It’s taken me a long time to realize this but getting away from my kids from time to time is crucial. I feel the same way about date nights. Quality time with my spouse is a huge priority for us. The stronger our connection is, the better parents we are and it all trickles down from there.
Don’t Compare Yourself to Other Parents
Absolutely nothing good can come from this. I know it’s hard though. Trust me, I find myself doing it all the time and have to make a conscious effort not to. I blame this on social media. In a world where everyone posts the best parts of their lives, in can easily make you feel like you aren’t doing enough as a parent but you are! If you are doing your best and your kids know they are loved, that’s all that matters.
Set Aside a Time Where Phones/iPads/TV are Not Allowed
While I am considered a millennial mom, I also still value many of the traditions we were brought up on (as I’m sure a lot of other millennial parents do as well). For example, I don’t believe that any form of “screens” should be allowed at dinner time. We are also trying to implement a rule where both me and my husband are off our phones from the time my husband gets home from work until the time the kids go to bed.
Don’t Be Too Hard on Yourself
No one knows you and your family as well as you do. Do what works for you – regardless of what society or some article tells you. If you do find yourself getting caught up in the comparison game, take a break – from social media and from all media in general. You’d be surprised at how refreshing it can be.
You are doing awesome mama! We millennial’s got this. 🙂