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Millennial moms are embracing motherhood on their own terms. With Mother’s Day around the corner, Reethika Azariah Kuruvilla wonders where these women fit in the whole motherhood saga

Millennial motherhood is about finding that support group, online or otherwise, who will help you through the rough times and toast you through the good.

There’s a whole lot to be said about ‘millennial moms’ and even more left unsaid. She’s the mom juggling her smartphone, car keys and baby in her carrier while she goes grocery shopping on her way home from work. Still trying to stay sane in an ever-multiplying world of expectations, mothers have come a long way from days before social networks dictated posting pictures of your perfect home alongside awards at work. There’s nothing more constant than change in the world, and evolution to the new age of ‘millennial motherhood’ is now the new normal. There’s nothing the Internet cannot help with, from colic and babies to getting back to work after a sabbatical. Come to think of it, being a ‘millennial mother’ certainly has its perks.

Old definition, new roles

A Wall Street Journal blog two years ago described ‘millennials’ as “a group of people who are building major companies, altering the way we work and live, challenging long-held notions of family and society.” Officially denoting anyone born after the mid-1980s and the late 1990s, most mothers today fall under the ‘millennial’ category. Generally speaking, anyone born earlier than the mid-1980s discovered the Internet, social media and smart technology as an adult; anyone born in the 2000s doesn’t remember life without ‘Angry Birds’ or Wi-Fi. Today’s regular mother, juggling too many things she thinks she needs to control before she understands that there’s a lot more she can’t, is the average new-age ‘millennial mother’.

A Goldman Sachs study actually had a 37-page paper published on ‘millennial moms’. The gist of it essentially led to describing young parents as being more health-conscious and smartphone-aware — telling investors to keep an eye out for millennial mothers’ distinctive tastes in consumerism to profit from it. The paper details how changes in parental choices have transformed retail and advertising. This is now the age where online shopping for everything from groceries to children’s clothes has now moved on from going from store to store for the perfect food or size. Children now don’t need to wait to switch on the television at a particular designated hour for their favourite cartoon show, they’ve got it all online or on an app that can playback shows without advertisement breaks. And, this is essentially a good thing.

Maya M, who doesn’t deny she is the ideal ‘millennial mom’, talks of how buying newborn clothes for her baby is more about the kind of material being used than the fact that they’re just clothes that fit from a famous brand. It’s not about pre-packaged, readymade baby food, but fresh, homemade, unrefined food that’s a healthier choice, even if it’s a tougher option. “Also, I don’t expect motherhood to be the only definition of who I am a couple of years down the line. I’d rather take help when offered, grandparents or a babysitter every now and then, not to be some corporate tycoon but keep my own identity, get back to work and have friends who are not toddlers.”

Working at a popular radio station, Anjana, tells of how she needs to get out of the house and be something other than being a mom. “I do need a specific ‘me’ time. This not only gives me more patience with the kids at the end of the day but also a lot more satisfaction with the quality time I spend at home. This way, we do get perfect pictures on our holidays of all of us happy together!”

Motherhood brings with it all those wonderful things from unconditional love to the ability to yell for no reason and wonder how someone you love so much can have you ready to protect and injure them both at the same time. Millennial motherhood is about finding that support group, online or otherwise, who will help you through the rough times and toast you through the good. It’s about finding serenity in the chaos, finding out that in spite of all those technological advances and the rather insensitive evolution of humanity, mothers still have just two hands.

Staying on top of things today is tougher than it was yesterday or the day before, but here’s a quick five-step path to millennial motherhood enlightenment:

Schedule Planning for the rest of the month has never been known to hurt. Get a huge ‘Mom Calendar’ that can hang on your kitchen wall with notes on everything from school performances to summer camps, meetings or holidays. There’s no way nobody in the house “didn’t know” when something was supposed to happen because they weren’t told. Prioritising expenses and events ahead of time avoids unnecessary stress.

Time-Out: Make time for yourself, your hobbies, just an hour or so every other day that is spent doing things for yourself. Being a mother is overwhelming and feeling neglected and exhausted does not translate to good parenting. Give yourself priority on your list of things to do every day, whether it’s to exercise, read, or watch TV.

3 Family Meals: Eating organic and healthy is great, but so is the odd burger and soda. Healthy alternatives to breakfast, oatmeal or cereal, are just as good as idlis and sambar. Allow yourself the odd sleep-in and let the family’s breakfast change for at least one day a week. Meals don’t need to be haute cuisine every time, and everyone pitching in to cook one dinner a week also makes it a fun family activity.

Help: When offered, help is always good, but asking for help is an option, too. Never feel the need to take on more than you can. The ‘millennial father’ can pitch in just as much as grandparents or home help. Much of being a mother is about proving to yourself, probably more than everyone else, that you’ve got things covered. Accepting help is just as important as offering help. The next time you offer to have the neighbourhood kids over for tea, ensure you have a day when your neighbour does the same.

Technology: The Internet and all the fun that has come with it isn’t as bad an evil as it’s made out to be. Find programmes online or courses you’d like to sign up for. Look for childcare in your neighbourhood or classes for your children to attend while you get that much-needed cuppa. After all, social media is not the only thing you need to use the Internet for. Avoid spending time editing photographs to post online when you have family around you. It’s the moments you lose in reality now that matter later. Put your phone away to spend quality time with your loved ones before you suddenly look up to find there isn’t anyone with time to spend with you.

Demographics at the Pew Research Center suggest, “48% of millennial women (ages 20 to 35 at the time) were moms.” As with every generation before, millennials are still just normal people. However, as those before can prove, the millennial generation has its own particular challenges, strengths and weaknesses that stem from where we have reached compared to when we were born.

In retrospect, we’re all millennial mothers today (even those of us born before the 1980s), and there’s nothing we do not have the willpower or determination to accomplish. It’s about finding the strength you didn’t know you had, patience you didn’t know existed, and dealing with fears you never thought possible. Here’s to motherhood, millennial or otherwise, may we be recognised for everything we do and given more time to do all those we still want to. If you’re a mother, you’re a superhero. Period.

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