Millennials have been a hot topic of conversation through recent years, but not all of them are the young, irresponsible, avocado toast–eaters that you may have read about. This generation is moving into the “parent” age bracket, and we’re beginning to see how millennial culture is shaping and redefining parental ideologies.
In typical millennial fashion, these “parennial” mamas and papas are tossing the outdated rule books and bringing in their own approaches to parenting and raising children.
They are creating family homes that are eccentric and cozy
The “hygge” trend is especially popular among millennial moms, as this Danish secret to “happy living” is all about promoting a feeling of cozy contentment and simplicity in the home. Parennials love any reason to get cozy and personal in their homes.
For Olivia Drouillard’s family, this means hanging her boys’ art up on the walls and collecting elements from nature to decorate their home with. “It’s not cookie-cutter, and I like it that way—not everything has to be so structured.”
She calls it their Home of Joys, where they thrift unique furniture, paint old items to give them new life, and jump freely on the couch. She wants her boys to remember their home as rustic, homey, and filled with creative expression.
They check product ingredients
Millennial moms aren’t as concerned with anti-aging products as previous generations, but they do care about incorporating proactive beauty into their self-care routines. This means exfoliants, serums, and plenty of face masks. But they won’t put any old thing on their faces, or their babies’ bodies—the ingredient list has to check out.
“I look for things that are fragrance-free, and if I want to add my own, I’ll use mild essential oils mixed with carrier oils,” Olivia says. She is also cautious about which cleaning products they use. She avoids chemicals like lye, ammonia, and bleach cleaners. In terms of skincare, she approves gentle ingredients like shea butter, jojoba oil, argon oil, and vitamin E.
They prioritize self-care time
Self-care and mental health are top millennial mom priorities. Nicole Wojcik says, “Feeling aligned starts with yourself. I’ve made a conscious effort to be in tune with values that are important to me, in terms of self-care, and to be happy with myself so that I can be the best mama and wife possible.”
Parennial moms are taking those bubble baths, journalling their feelings, and maintaining activities that are important to them as people, and not just as moms. It’s non-negotiable, because if they aren’t their best selves, how can they expect to have the energy to raise happy, healthy humans?
They spend more quality time together
Parennials value not “burning out” so that they can maximize their time with their babies. This can be as simple as being present in the same room together, sans high-stimulating digital devices, or planning out specific activities to get the fun going.
Susanne Froese is part of the 46 percent of parents today who are in the workforce, yet like other parennials, she’s spending more quality time with her kids than previous generations. Susanne initially felt guilty for needing time away but realized her social work job brought her personal fulfillment. “I also love seeing what the kids do and learn when they aren’t with me. It’s important to have this balance and our kids benefit from it as well.”
This way, mom feels fueled and baby gets full intentional time spent together.
Unconscious Consumerism is out
Capsule wardrobes, minimalism, and a “less is more” attitude are on the rise for millennial moms, who still buy things, but they buy fewer, more responsible products. Kathleen Quiring says, “The internet has helped us to be aware of climate change, economic collapse as a result of an unsustainable model, and that unchecked consumerism is unhealthy physically, spiritually, and globally.”
In order to gain millennial moms’ respect and trust, brands are needing to step up their authenticity and transparency game. Parennials want people of colour, LGBTQ+ communities, and diverse bodies represented in marketing, books, and mainstream brands. They are teaching their kids to welcome the idea of unique identities and communities, and to live respectfully and in harmony with each other.
Food time is fun time
And healthy time, too! Millennial moms are cooking more extravagant meals and inviting their kids to join them. Susanne says, “I love cooking with my son. While it can take more patience to teach him to clean up the inevitable mess after, it’s such an important skill and important to feel connected to the food you eat.”
Susanne pays close attention to ingredient lists, but mostly uses home-grown or -raised foods. They experiment with recipes, and it shows—her son’s favourite dishes are sushi, brie cheese, pho, and shawarma.
Social media is their first language
It’s no surprise that the most transparent and well-connected generation would take that to heart in motherhood. Nicole presents her Instagram aesthetic through beautiful photos and honest captions and loves how authentic Instagram can be. She often turns to it to connect with other moms about successes and struggles.
“Especially when I’m the only one in my friend group to have kids, it’s a nice way to connect and see their stories.” Instagram is the popular social network among millennials as it’s seen as the most supportive and collaborative medium.
Though they’re not afraid to publicly share beautiful moments, parennials are increasingly aware of their children’s privacy and many agree that they keep a treasure box of memories that are all their own.
They see their kids as whole beings
Thanks to the internet, parennials have access to a variety of parenting styles, which they can accept or reject based on theirs and their children’s needs. Parennials say they view their children not as an extension of themselves, but as their own people, and are allowing them a say on the way they learn.
Kathleen embraces unschooling for her daughter, which “entails paying attention to what sparks your child and finding resources to support what’s meaningful to them. It means validating your child’s interests, even if they aren’t traditionally valued by society.”
Parennials are seeking to create more confident and empathetic members of society than they may have been while growing up.
They’re waiting longer to have children
Millennial moms want to be sure about having kids; the average age of first-time mothers is now 28 compared to 25. These conscious decisions allow moms like Susanne to focus on strengthening their marriages, travelling, and advancing their careers. Susanne says that though it’s never easy to be a parent, waiting allowed her the time to have a better idea of her individual interests and goals before identifying as a mom. Now, they build on those goals and develop new ones as a family.
They want to see and experience the world
Eighty-two percent of millennials want their children to know they don’t need material possessions to be happy. Susanne says she would much rather spend money on experiences than objects. “Travelling allows us to spend time together, and I want our kids to experience different cultures and ways of life.” Parennials also enjoy simpler pleasures with their kids like nature adventures, movie nights, or craft time.