AD/ Why I feel lucky to be a Millennial parent!
At our last Johnson’s ambassador meeting we spoke about the Evolution of Parenthood, the team from The pineapple Lounge came to do a presentation and I found it absolutely fascinating. I knew I was technically a millennial parent because I fall into the age bracket (1982-1995) but I hadn’t considered all the factors of what make me a Millennial parent or thought about the contributors that have shaped our generation into the parents we are. I have defiantly mocked myself when I used the title ‘Millennial mama’ in the past because I was led to believe that it had a negative connotation, we are after all the generation that now document our parenting journey online, the parents before us didn’t do that and because its relatively new to the world it comes with some backlash and opposing opinions. 8 in 10 babies right now have millennial parents, we are currently a great force NOT to be reckoned with… we are raising the future and we are pretty proud of that so don’t get in our way! I personally think we are one very lucky generation to be raising our Children at this point in time and I will touch on why through out this blog post. Its been a great chance for me to review how I’ve evolved as a parent and what I learned at the meeting resonated with me so much about the parent that I am.
One of the main reasons I feel lucky to be a Millennial parent is that we have had the best of both worlds. We very much had an ‘analogue’ Childhood, mobile phones weren’t widely used until my teens and even then it was a simple txt or call, there was no internet until my teens and again this was not easily accessible (I mean can you remember how pants dial up was?, ha!) life was very different then to what the generation below us are experiencing now. Having said that we now have to navigate through a very ‘digital’ parenthood, embracing new technology into our lives is easy for us and doesn't shake our dynamic like it did our parents but we also know the importance of real life experiences with our children. We are a group that will always have one foot slightly in the past because our childhood feels so nostalgic and juxtaposed to what our children can experience now. The Pineapple lounge referred to Millennial parents as ‘Constantly seeking the harmony between the old and the new’ and I can relate to that so much, any ‘Insta parents’ would. We digitally share our parenthood journey, we seek online relations, we communicate through social media but when it comes to our kids we still expect to give them a childhood like our own.
I think I will always encourage my children to jump in muddy puddles like I once did, I want them to do all the classic ‘Art Attack’ style crafts that I remember doing as a child… “Heres one I made earlier” (Sorry I couldn’t help myself) I want them to have Teddy Bear picnics & play boardgames with us around the table at Christmas, THIS is where the Millennial traits shine through, will the next generation of parents have that same nostalgia? What with having way more technology to contend with throughout their childhood. Maybe not.
Theres pros and cons to parenting as a millennial, I know that there is for all generations of parents but because we have an incredible amount of opportunities these all come with unique pressures that we have been the first to deal with. I think its important to touch on something that The Pineapple Studio mentioned and thats that the Universal parenting experience is shared by all generations, being a modern parent doesn’t mean that we are immune to the age old challenges our parents experienced before us. We are all sleep deprived, we all face the same parenting emotions and issues but as times change we are differently equipped, we have unique tools to help us along the way.
We are a culture more educated than ever before, we can with one simple click access any type of information we want and are said to be some of the best informed parents there has ever been. How many of you have basically ‘googled’ your way through difficult parenting situations so far? (guilty as charged) but being this well informed can come with the worry of judgment and the fear of doing something wrong. Truth is that there is no real right and wrong but just what suits us, our kids and our lives but being able to access so much information means that we face conflicting views all the time that plant seeds of doubt. I remember mentioning my weaning plans with Olive once, we wanted to try ‘Baby led Weaning’ as we hadn't done that with Oaks and It seemed the best way to avoid gaining another fussy eater later on. It meant that from 6 months old we would introduce finger foods or a safe version of what we ate, which was fine except even at 6 months Olive could not use her hands or bring them to her mouth. Every meal time we gave her finger foods but we also gave her some puree until she was able to use her hands and feed herself, this was only perhaps for a few weeks but I received some opinions that led me to believe I was doing it all wrong despite being told by some platforms that my method was fine. I DID ME, I continued to label our weaning journey as ‘Baby Led’ even though some told me I couldn’t. Ridiculous but a prime example of how having so much information can lead to conflicting ideas.
We have an incredible amount of things to do as a family, I mean days out, attractions, play areas etc. I know my parents have mentioned in the past how lucky we are to have all the things that we do. We are a busy family, at times I will moan that we are TOO busy but secretly I like it that way. Social media has influenced me to do more, see more and visit places I may never have known about it and I think thats a great thing, but this has a fine line and I also see that. The fear of missing out or comparison to others is strong, theres a huge difference between being inspired to do more and feeling like its an obligation because so & so is taking their kids there. I can see why so many buckle to the pressure that social media brings, trying to keep up appearances can be exhausting and can lead to the focus shifting from whats important. I think i’ve been close I really do, but if theres one thing that I have gained throughout the past 4 years its to believe in myself as a mum and dance to the best of my own drum. Thats why I see social media in such a positive light, with the right mindset it can be used as a huge tool of inspiration for parents.
We are so lucky that we can make connections as parents now without leaving the house, in those times of need. We are surrounded by forums, chatrooms, apps, podcasts that can all transport us into a virtual world filled with thousands of other like minded people who have that same common interest. What I find so amazing is the impact these connections can make, perhaps its just because you have a very specific topic you need help with or need to find a mum dealing with the same thing you are going through but there is a gap for everyone to feel valued online. I had a best friend who’s baby was tube fed for a good year, in me sharing her story I was one day able to then connect another mum with my friend. They grew a relationship purely based on being a support to one another through learning to adapt to having a baby with different needs, not having any ‘real life’ friends going through the same meant that this new millennial style of relationship building had an amazing effect on them.
Going back to what I said earlier about having one foot in the past and one foot in the future, we spoke at the Johnsons meeting about Milenial’s rejecting that traditional family life. As an individual I know I don’t want to fully give into saying goodbye to my past and instead I want to keep experiencing things WITH my kids which is exactly what I think they meant by us rejecting the stereotypical family roles. Theres more of a sense of friendship with our kids than ever before, I know I defiantly want to see myself as a friend as-well as their parent. I think this is so true, for example ‘twinning’ more than ever we want to twin with our kids, we take them for a baby chino so that we can go on coffee dates. I am desperate to go to the ‘Big Feastivle’ this year and experience a family festival, all these things are prime reasons why I love parenting in this age.
I love that being a parent is something this generation seems to embrace, we value experience as a family and seek to collect memories together more than anything else. We are young at heart, we don’t mind putting on matching Christmas pyjamas or dressing up to go trick or treating as a family or having. I think this makes us so lucky to be parenting right now, we have the chance to leverage nostalgia from our own childhood experience into theirs before their world gets a whole lot more serious.