Parents nowadays have more distractions than ever before. They have phones that keep them up to date on events all over the world. They have portable computers and tablets to do their work from every location. They have readers that no longer require physical books to be in their possession. Everything is at their fingertips and yet, there are things that are literally in front of their face that remain unseen.
Walking through any public place and you'll see that attention spans are divided. There is much going on and it appears that people are taking in a lot of things at once. Can a person take in and enjoy multiple things at once though? Can they be in the moment and recall it in the future? Are these divided attention spans sucking out some of people's joy.
The reason for this divided attention span is varied. Work needs to get done and now that the technology is there adults are expected to do more. The temptation is too great to check the phone to see what is going on in a moment. They want to share the moments with people.
This article is to explore things that millennial parents have the propensity to miss out on due to the demands of the world around them.
If you have not done this, you don't even know how much you are missing out. There is something magical (and cliche) about sneaking in to watch your baby sleep. To be clear by "baby" we are talking ages 0 to 100 here. Your baby is always your baby. If you need to break out from the old folks home to go try to watch your baby sleep, that isn't the worst idea I've heard. It's not the best either, and maybe I've just heard a lot of really bad ideas in my life.
Honestly even at older ages it is the most wonderful thing to go in and rearrange their covers to make sure they are warm. Brushing those small hairs out of their face, so they don't get tickled and have a dream that there are spiders on their face. Listening to the soft snores.
When a person watches their kids discover things it reignites in them the wonder of everything. Like what are your hands doing right now. Can you tap your left pinky on your palm? Are you double jointed in any of your fingers? Do you have any moles on your hands? Does your eyebrow itch? Hands are amazing. The way that they do what your brain tells them to do. What else is amazing in the world?
Yes, there are viral videos that show us the wonderment and range of the things people can do in the world. However from a baby's perspective just that they can use their hands to pick something up and move it is like painting a Picasso. Be amazed. Look at the things you do and be amazed that you can do them.
Every day your body does processes that keep you alive and you don't even have to acknowledge it. You just keep breathing and going. Take a deep breath for a moment and realize that if you have nothing else today, you have this. You have this breath and this ability to move. To get things done. You have power. Also maybe put your hair in a pony tail if it's shoulder length because that baby is going to want to grab and pull.
This is so hard. This is one of those things that we try to do a lot, but it takes at least 30 minutes longer to make meals if the kids are helping. Also, depending on if it gets dumped on the floor it could end up being a complete bust. Still this is important for so many reasons. Forming connections with your kids is important and this is fun stuff for them. You don't want to have them move to college and not how to use an oven. To be honest I'm learning as I teach my kids because I never learned to cook. We are double handicapped at this food creation. Sometimes honestly it's the most frustrating experience in the world to have help, but there are a lot of important lessons. They get to learn to participate for the family, work together, and hopefully gain knowledge on cooking. My focus is on them and our project because otherwise I will mess up. It gets my mind off work, it gets my mind off drama. Also it's a good feeling to complete the project that night and know how it's going to turn out.
With reading tablets and apps you may be tempted to have the tablet read to your kids. That way they can get some education from there and you can finish that one last thing you have to do before bed. Though from an efficiency standpoint this makes perfect sense, you may want to reconsider some times. Depending on the ages of the children reading stories is less about the words and following along than it is about whatever random questions they come up with about pictures etc. It's a time for them to interact and check on if your knowledge is up to par and if they can trust you to know everything. My youngest will continually ask about that characters hair or why she holds the basket in that hand etc. She doesn't really care about the story per se, but that we are looking together and figuring it out. Look, it's frustrating sometimes too. Worth it though.
There comes a day relatively quickly where the kids won't answer about how their days are. It will be like pulling teeth. Reinforcing now that you care by putting stuff aside to listen to their day is important. If they are having a hard time getting started try asking them about their favorite part of the day and the worst part of the day. That can give some good insight on how they are feeling and if you can help them with any problems throughout the day. I've noticed with my own kids that they ask me and my parents about their days now and like to hear about what was hard for them. It's important to listen to people and it's never too early to learn. You will definitely get some long answers at times about who got timeout etc, but that's kind of fun to learn. Bonus points if you can check in the next day and ask if that kid had a better day the following day.
This is a time to try to talk. It's a good time to work out the plan for the night. It's a time where electronics can be put aside and face to face time happens. Dinner time can be a stressful time because some kids are picky eaters. It can begin to feel like dinner time is a battle ground instead of a gathering in which people you love are surrounding you. Not being distracted by my phone helps to control the flow of conversation and distract little ones into eating better. It won't always work, but sometimes. We need every advantage that we can think of. If you are a working mom and the children have activities, sadly these dinners are sometimes the only time you get to have all of the family around. It's nice to spend it fully engrossed in the moment. Sure this might be a little be of a sitcom kind of outlook, but trying to do a couple dinners a week like this seems good.
There are so many improvements in the way things are done, it becomes incredibly tempting as a parent to jump in and fix things for your kids. That isn't always the best thing. Also sometimes we tune out while they are struggling. Since they don't want our help any way then we might as well check facebook. I would try to stick in there to watch them a few minutes struggling with it before I turn to something else. That way you can take note of their personal process. For example my kid will struggle and than go nuclear when she can't figure things out. By watching her I can do some encouraging and when she gets to the point I can see frustration building up, I tell her a joke. I do a small story about something unrelated. I ask if there is something that she doesn't remember in the process that I can help with.
Millennial parents have some things pretty hard. They have a lot of judgement cast their way it seems. Not just from the elders, but social media has made it so easy to cut down other people's decisions and the way that they raise their kids. It seems we are living in a world that is so much smaller. The fact is that unfortunately nowadays you don't ever know if someone in public is videoing you,. You don't know if they are watching how you interact with your child and deeming it "wrong." This was not a worry when we were growing up. There wasn't a concern that someone would make a meme of you on facebook at your worst moment. There wasn't a concern that some stranger would call CPS if you left your kids in the car when it was below 0 and you ran in to pay for gas. There are just a lot of things that are different. Not all bad of course. However feeling constantly judged is hard on everyone.
There are some awesome video games currently. There are ones that are virtual reality. There are ones where you have to move around and do things. It's great. None of that really takes the place of some good old fashioned playing outside. Getting a little mud on your face never hurt anyone. Letting the kids run around like they were raised by wolves and jumping in to chase them. Squirt gun and water balloon fights, Flying kites, jumping rope, and playing ball. These are all of the things that made childhood fantastic. Encouraging the kids to play outside instead of sit inside is a great way for them to learn to love being physically active. This is especially important when we are facing rates of obesity rising. Also, getting them moving gets me moving - so I try very hard not to skip out on the outdoors even if I'm not exactly a frontier woman.
Play dates weren't really a thing when we were younger. They are now. Also they seem to be starting preschool younger. They start sports at younger ages. These all contribute to kids having pretty heavy schedules by the time they get to school age. Millennial parents miss out on having a relaxed time because they are afraid their children will get behind by the time they are 5 if they haven't found their calling (whether it be dance, karate, swimming.) If you don't have your child in the right class than are they even going to make it to the 2024 Olympics? You don't want to be the reason that they didn't get to pursue their dream so the scheduling begins. Hopefully in the schedule we have time to mark in have a happy childhood. If not at least they got a head start in learning and friendships.
When we were young there didn't seem to be as much explaining about things when we were denied access to something. Now when there are parents in the store and their kids are requesting candy the answer is usually a quarter of an hour explanation about the effects on teeth. This is not a bad thing, but it's different. When we were kids it was "No," and than we sulked for a little bit and moved on. It seems that we have missed out on the beauty of being able to answer the questions of our wee ones concisely and confidently. This is something that we should try to bring back. There is an age where explanations can be an important part of helping teach and then there is the age of 2 where they parrot you and don't require essay answers on why they can't have the sucker.
There was a luxury in the past generations of having less information available on how your decisions would mess up your kid in the future. As we have gotten more advanced in technology there are much more ways to research every possible problem. That research meets with varying ways of coping or fixing the problem. The parent than has to try to figure out which way is the appropriate way to go after spending 5 hours reading horror stories from other parents who had the same thing happen and met with disaster,. Having too much information available can be paralyzing when you are an anxious person to being with. When you couple that with the fact that your child is likely the most important thing in the world to you, it can be a panic inducing scenario. Figuring out things as you go is getting harder to do as the information pours in from all the sources.
This is going to sound bitter, but Pinterest makes some moms feel like failures. Yes, I'm speaking for myself (and others.) It's hard for some moms to work and find time to build a robot made out of candy for their kid to bring to school for whatever holiday party is that week. Heck even if I didn't work this isn't something that I seem to be able to accomplish. It's just not my calling. Obviously there is nothing wrong with not going the extra mile to make a Pinterest worthy snack for your child. No other parents are judging this. It's something purely ingrained in ourselves. However I can't help but think that before Pinterest was here it wouldn't feel as bad. You wouldn't know that there were ways to make pancakes shaped like easter bunnies and fruit trays that are rainbows.
In times past there was no recommendation on the amount of screen time that a child should get each day. There was very little though in general about how much time we spent watching the tv. This lead many of our generation to gain quite a bit of time logged with our favorite babysitter: Ms. Television. The only rules we had were not to sit so closer or our eyes will go really bad. Now that different accredited organizations have reviewed the television's affect on developing brains there have been some recommendations rolled on for children. This not only has contributed to more parents "cutting the cord" when it comes to TV's, but it does seem to add to the guilt that a parent feels when they do let the kid seek out the boob tube as a means to get some work for themselves done.
Millennials are more likely to continue working and building a career than previous generations. This means that less are likely to stay home and raise the children all by themselves. The positives to this are more "team" approaches to raising kids, and daddy involvement. At times the father opts to be the stay home parent and take care of the more hands on day to day kids stuff. The negatives to this could be that all though many women do like their job they also would like to have more time at home with their baby's and children. In the United States this issue has been on the plate for awhile as mother's (and even fewer fathers) have any paid leave when they do have a baby. This results in mothers returning to work before they are ready (emotionally or physically.)