When you think of everything the average American parent tries to pack into 24 hours, it’s a miracle anyone gets through the day. Besides feeding, bathing and generally loving their kids, many parents work longer hours – 47 hours a week, according to a recent Gallup poll.
Plus, our culture doesn’t make it easy for new parents. Moms and dads pay a chunk of their wages toward health insurance and child care. And, unlike Canadian or Swedish moms (among others) who are rewarded with several months of paid leave, US mamas are often pressured to jump back to work after just a few weeks of recovery.
When both partners work, they often put as much time into caregiving as they do breadwinning. Housework and childrearing are now “teamwork,” but that means they both increasingly feel the pain of “juggling it all.” And single parents, are squeezed even more!
In spite of it all, millennial parents aren’t skimping on time with their kids. “Modern lifestyles and demands make it hard for families to have quality time together,” states the Modern Parents Report, published by Cassandra, the leading research firm on youth culture. “Moms and dads are making it a priority and devising new ways to feel connected to their kids.”
Millennial Parents: Can You Say Busy?
Today’s parents have a ton on their plates. Working full-time + coaching the T-Ball + baking Pinterest-worthy macarons for the school fundraiser (from scratch, with organic wheat flour, of course!) demonstrates the super-hero determination of today’s millennials.
But perhaps the biggest challenge of all is that most modern parents are doing all this, all alone.
Today, if you have a nanny or two, you have to be quite well off. But, until just 70 years ago, all parents – from the beginning of human history - had 3-4 “nannies” to help them! (I’m talking about their support team of grandparents, aunts, cousins and older sibs.) But today we’re spread far and wide. Grandma and Grandpa may live a day’s journey away, and you may only get to connect with your sister by a quick text as you both rush from work to pick up the kids.
Parenting Is About to Change…
For families to thrive in America, things have got to change. At Happiest Baby, it’s ingrained in our culture to ask, “What if there’s a better way?”
I, for one, believe there is!
A sea change in parenting is rolling in, and Millennial parents seem ready to ride the wave to a saner balance. But, to actualize this, we need technology that works harder for us. The goal of my life’s work is to create technologies that help real-life moms, dads and kids. (Happiest Baby’s debut product, SNOO, takes a big swipe at the #1 stress on new parents: exhaustion. Think about it: bassinets/cribs haven’t changed in over 1000 years...with SNOO we’ve created a responsive baby bed that reduces crying, increases sleep, ensures babies sleep safely on the back (per the AAP recommendation) and helps babies develop a better day/night schedule. SNOO is a big advancement in tech, and I expect we’ll see a big leap forward in the well-being of families to follow). We need more tech innovators working to improve family life. The potential is as great as your imagination.
It Still Takes a Village
In addition, we need to look to village life and inject a culture of community help into the modern American family. Our children are both a treasure and a responsibility to our entire community.
The great news is there’s evidence that’s already happening. Another insight from the Cassandra report:
“Friends and family have never been as intermingled as they are today. Gen Y has always been highly social and team-oriented., and, as they become parents, they’re maintaining the importance of friends in their lives by inviting them to be part of their families.”
Millennial parents, a.k.a. the “experience generation,” are making the kind of change I’m hoping for. My career has allowed me to be a sounding board for new parents for over 30 years. They’ve shared with me their thoughts, fears and dreams. And, more than ever they're hip to a little secret—asking for help is not only fine, it’s one of the smartest things any parent can do!
Big cultural shifts happen when a small number of people make changes that catch on and spread. So, go ahead, ask for help and see what happens. You may be surprised at how happy and willing your friends and family are to pitch in.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if millennials become known for a revolution in parenting? I see the power in this generation, and I believe it’s possible.
Learn more about SNOO smart sleeper and Happiest Baby’s mission to offer smart solutions to help families live happier, healthier lives. And if all this sounds cool to you, follow us on LinkedIn…we’ll be needing more bright young minds to join us in the year ahead!
Photo by Julia Newman, courtesy Brooklyn Herborium