Why Parenting Now is Better Than Ever
Our parents may glamorize the way they raised us, but there are so many reasons for why I’m glad I’m a mom NOW and not 30 years ago. We’ve got technology. We’ve got concepts like coParenting. We’ve got social media. Here are five reasons I’m stoked to be bringing up babies in this part of the 21st century.
“That’s not how we did it when you and your brother were growing up,” my mom said to me when I busted out the iPad at a Los Angeles steakhouse.
Truth be told, this wasn’t the kind of place you should bring a toddler. The tablecloths were white. The waiters were wearing suits sourced from Saks Fifth Avenue. And there was no kid’s menu. But I couldn’t find a babysitter and this was my belated birthday dinner with my mom who was in town for just one night.
“Good thing I’m a parent now and not 30 years ago!” I said, turning on Sesame Street with a smile. My daughter beamed up at me. She knew watching the iPad was a treat. We limit screen time to 30 to 60 minutes a day, max. And we bring crayons and coloring books to diners and casual restaurants. But here, where my steak cost more than I earn in an hour, the iPad was everything. Peace for the other patrons and myself was totally worth 45 minutes of Elmo.
My mom took a drawn-out sip of her red wine because she didn’t have a comeback. She was enjoying the atmosphere AND sitting across from my now quiet 3-year-old just as much as I was. Thirty years ago, it was a babysitter or nothing. Now we have iPads for emergency fancy dinners where the grandparents are paying.
2. Meal Kit Delivery
My brother and I have very different memories of what we ate growing up. He insists that all our mother fed us was “junk food” like ramen and hot dogs, while I remember home-cooked meals waiting for us in the microwave after track practice. The truth is probably somewhere between roasted broccoli and Hamburger Helper.
All of my parents (biological and step) worked full-time jobs when I was growing up. Now that I’m in those same trenches, balancing a career with meal planning for my family, I have so much more respect for the mountain that is making dinner every night. With that said, I was an early adopter of services like Blue Apron, Green Chef, and Sunbasket (I’ve tried them all!).
What’s not to love about getting three meal kits delivered to your home each week? The recipes and ingredient ratios are handled for you and having the ingredients waiting practically guarantees that you’ll sit down and have dinner together at least three nights a week. Sure, a little more effort is required then the TV dinners of my youth, but it’s worth it to feed my family healthier food and it’s definitely easier than making something entirely from scratch each evening.
3. Apps for Everything
When I brought my daughter home from the hospital, she lost 10 percent of her body weight like most babies. Unfortunately, we had breastfeeding and jaundice issues. She continued to lose lbs., which sent me into a tailspin of anxiety and tears.
With the help of a lactation consultant and a breastfeeding app, we got everything on track by the time she turned a month old. The app, however, became my best friend (I may have been a little Single White Female about it. I was obsessed). I could track how long and how often I was feeding my sweet girl. I could track wet diapers. I could create charts and graphs. Seeing the results of my labor (breastfeeding is hard work!), grounded my anxiety in the digital world.
Sure, our parents survived feeding babies, buying homes, and divorce and custody disputes without an app. But with so much technology out there, technology meant to make things like sharing custody easier, can anyone honestly say they’d rather these tools NOT exist? Even my dinosaur parents get excited when I tell them that “there’s an app for that.” They won’t admit it, but I think they’re thrilled to be grandparents now and not then, too.
4. Social Media
We’ve all seen the articles about how social media is going to be the downfall of society as we know it. From cyberbullying to catfishing, the horror stories are enough to make you unplug forever. But there are so many wonderful things that come from connecting with others online. The benefits of social media far outweigh the detriments, as far as I’m concerned.
A few years ago, I took a hiatus from working to stay home with my infant daughter. While I relished the time with her, I was lonely. We’d just moved to a new area with no family or friends for miles. Days spent changing diapers with a human whose only means of communication was crying or cooing, with a partner who traveled for work a few weeks each month, left me desperate for adult contact. Facebook communities and online mom groups were my saving grace. I chatted with other parents. I laughed at parenting memes. I participated in some amazing discussions about the peaks and valleys of motherhood. In many ways, social media helped prevent me from going insane that first year as a new mother.
5. Progressive Parenting
Before I became a mom, I dove into parenting books and blogs with the fervor of a scientist trying to find the cure for cancer. But unlike a scientist whose quest was to save the human race, I was simply trying to save myself and my future child from some of the pain I experienced growing up. Would I be a good mom? How could I break the cycle of mistakes my parents had made? How would I raise kind, helpful, and happy human beings?
That’s another thing I love about being a mom right now, I can learn about how to be a better parent any time, anywhere. My own parents didn’t have access to the classes, blogs, books, and articles we have now. There were some resources, sure, but they weren’t available at the push of a button on your smartphone. Not only that, but culture hadn’t caught up with changing family dynamics. Things like divorce still had a stigma attached, leaving children in alternative situations feeling ashamed or ostracized.
I’m thrilled to be parenting NOW, in an age where there are so many tools to help me be a better mom and to help parents in all situations, thrive. I’m thrilled to be raising kids in a time where families of all shapes and sizes are defined by the only thing that matters: love.
I’m convinced that the conveniences and technology we have now will free up more time to focus on what matters most, our kids. From social media to meal kit delivery, I’d never pull a Michael J. Fox and go back in time to trade places with my parents. Today, I’m raising my third cup of coffee to being a mommy to Generation Z and beyond!
Are you glad to be parenting now? Or do you think our parents and grandparents had it easier when they were raising us?