I’ve heard a lot of jokes about how the Millennial generation has, ironically, become disconnected by connecting too much. Through the availability and growth of the internet and technology, Millennials are completely tuned into each other’s lives, have the world at our fingertips (literally!), and over share through social media; but some critics claim that, as technologically advanced as we are, we have difficulty socializing in person due to lack of practice.
I usually laugh off these jokes as an exaggeration, but recently, during a vacation with friends (while all the kids were napping), I looked around the room. Guess what we parents were doing? We were playing Draw Something with each other, and not a word was spoken as we communicated via our fingertips!
The more I thought about it, the more I realized that, at a certain undetermined point, I had stopped having real conversations with my friends on a regular basis and had started texting instead. How did people manage before everything became instant? What did people do before the advent of apps? And more importantly, when did I become so Millennial, and how does it affect my mothering?
The categorization of a generation (Baby Boomers, Gen X, Gen Y/Millennials) and the resulting stereotypes threaten our unique identities, but recognition of our individual characteristics within a generational stereotype can actually empower us. Awareness can help prevent an overindulgence of our Millennial ways.
Among the numerous traits ascribed to Millennials, the most memorable are: narcissistic, lazy, entitled, doting parents, constantly connected, seekers of true work-life balance, cravers of positive affirmation, great multitaskers, and very tech-savvy. If I were to evaluate myself, I have to admit that I would check off much of the above. As a Millennial Mother, I’m hip (narcissism?), I’m doing a great job and like to hear it (positive affirmation, please), I know how to really enjoy life (work-life balance), and I’m glued to my phone (tech-savvy).
As a mother, I should be wary of overindulgence in technology and shortcuts, both of which can inadvertently lead to laziness and entitlement, but, being a Millenial Mom isn’t all bad. When viewed positively, my “Millennial traits” also mean that I am confident, seek feedback for improvement, support working hard and playing hard, and use technology for good. Technology allows me to journal, Facetime with the grandparents, send e-mail updates, stay connected with old friends, find new recipes and DIY advice, and think outside the box.
As a Millennial Mother, the internet and technology are part of my life. I don’t think I need to sever the connections I have made through the blogosphere, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest (isn’t it insane how fast our worlds have morphed in just one year?), but I should make sure I don’t go overboard.
To set a good example and to be involved with my children, I sometimes need to put down the phone, get off the computer, and turn off the iPad.
I evaluated my Millennial ways and noted some areas that need improvement:
1) When you wake up, what’s the first thing you do?
Check instagram for new photos. Oops.
2) How much time do you spend on the computer each day?
Too much to count. Oops.
3) How many phone conversations have you had today?
One. But, it lasted an hour. My son was asleep and I was washing kale–but, then I zoned out and surfed the web for new clothes while we were still talking…oops.
4) How many hours of sleep do you get? (If less than 7, what cuts into your sleep time?)
Five, if I’m lucky. Facebook. Oops. And some reading and writing, but these are all things I never have time for during the day! Double oops.
My answers indicate my own shortcomings and Millennial ways. I hope I’m not alone and other Millennial Mothers can empathize. Our generation is innovative, creative, and productive (in a fast-paced, web-based way), but if we’re not careful, we can easily become lazy, entitled, and demanding. I believe we can work to be better Millennial Moms, as long as we are aware of our potential weaknesses and work to keep those at bay.
QUESTION: Which Millennial Mom attributes do you identify with?
CHALLENGE: Ask yourself the four questions above. If you like your answers, great! If not, make small changes throughout the week. Review the questions again to measure your progress.