Despite the constant flack Millennials seem to catch, I'm OK with being lumped into this generation. Some of the hardest-working, smartest, and best people I know are Millennials. As a Millennial mom, though, I have to admit parenting through this prism isn't always the easiest. The worst things about being a Millennial parent are, in many ways, the counterpoints to the best things about being a Millennial parent — they're opposite sides of the same coin, so to speak. So even though I think there are plenty of reasons being a Millennial mom is the coolest gig on the planet, I'm not going to tell you it isn't hard sometimes.
But, hey, that's parenting, right? I don't care who you are or how you do it, there are going to be days when being responsible for the upbringing of tiny humans makes you wish you could quit adulting. In fact, those days will sometimes seem to be the majority shareholders in your life. Still, although parenting is hard by any standard, there are certain challenges Millennials face that are unique to our generation. It doesn't make our plight any better or worse than that of any other parent; it just makes it different. (We're all on the same side, y'all.)
So if you're among the more than 22 million Millennial parents in the United States, join me in commiserating over some of the not-so-ideal facets of parenting we face on a daily basis.
1. So. Many. Choices.
OK, I completely understand how much this sounds like the problem of a privileged person. This is my party, though, so I'll cry if I want to — and want to, I do. I have two children under the age of 6, and the choices we have had to make just as it pertains to preschool are mind-numbing. We had to decide what kind of "learners" they might be: Would they thrive in a Montessori school? Or are they destined for the local school of math and science? Should they attend an eco-school, where the focus is on sustainability and they'll be able to garden in the afternoons? Yes, I'm grateful for all of these options. On the other hand, though, it creates an atmosphere of crushing pressure. What if I make the wrong choice? What if I send my kid cruising down a track that takes him in a direction he never wanted to go?! Our parents had it easy, when the choices for schooling were just "public" or "private."
2. The Work/Family Balance Paradigm
Tomorrow night, I am going out for the first time in what seems like a really long time for a little "me" time in celebration of my birthday this week. Because having kids is more expensive than ever, my husband and I both work. Because we both work and we have two small children, we rarely have time to do normal adult-type things, like going out to dinner with friends. And we are not alone — according to Forbes, Millennials are almost twice as likely to have a spouse/partners working full-time than baby boomers, and a whopping 76 percent of Millennial parents cite "finding time for me" as their most prevalent challenge.
3. Disproportionate Expectations
We've already touched on how A) Millennial parents are faced with a million different options regarding what's best for their kids and B) the cost for raising said kids is growing at a seemingly exponential rate. Yet, amazingly, Millennial parents are simply expected to do more with less. We're supposed to feed our kids organic and enroll them in mind-expanding extracurriculars and pay for the technology now used in the classroom and a whole host of other things — all while wages stagnate or, worse, continue to fall. Childcare and education alone make up 18 percent of the cost of raising a child, which is a 16 percent jump since the '60s.
4. The Peanut Gallery
While it's true that technology puts countless people at your fingertips to support you and spot you advice on parenting these days, there is definitely a downside — unsolicited advice or input. And lots of it. Because Millennial parents are so synced up on social media, we're constantly exposed to opinions about how we should be raising our kids. Every keyboard warrior in the world has an opinion about parenting, and they're more than happy to share it with you. Not to mention the inferiority social media can breed when other parents on your feed seem to have it all together while you are categorically a hot mess mom.