Millennial men want to ‘have it all,’ too

Work-life balance is not a ‘woman’s issue.’

Millennial men want to ‘have it all,’ too

“What is wrong with Millennials?”

That question has been a too-familiar refrain in recent years, from commentators complaining about the “me generation,” or our work ethic, or our shifting habits around marriage or child bearing. But I’ve come to believe that Millennials (loosely defined as those born between the 1980’s and early 2000’s), are the first generation to be born into a world that is fundamentally rethinking which way is up, and which is down. Technological change, political upheaval, major cultural evolutions—particularly on gender issues—have all rapidly reshaped our world. Why do Millennials get blamed for the world we’ve inherited?

What Millennials Are Facing

Earlier generations of Americans (‘Greatest Generation,’ Baby Boomers, and Generation-X’ers) came of age during historical periods of great uncertainty (think the Great Depression, World War II, The Cold War). Their lives were structured around maintaining stability; a man or a woman was judged by his or her ability to maintain and keep a steady job, home and family. Stability was king because it was the rarest of commodities.

Millennials, on the other hand, have been raised by Gen-X and Boomer parents and thus have an understanding and appreciation for stability. But our historical context has been different. We have been born into an era in which the word “stability” has derived a negative connotation; stay too long at a job and you might be deemed not cutting-edge enough. Millennials not only live with change; they’ve come to expect it as surely as the next wave of technological innovation is unveiled. Meanwhile, our generation has also matured at a time when online manicured personas are more idealized than our non-virtual (real) person, leaving us to struggle with the question of “who am I?” in this morally ambiguous new world.

Remember too, Millennials are just entering their adult years. At 80 million strong, they now represent that largest U.S. generation. According to a report by Get Abstract, by 2020 they will outnumber all other people in the work force. 83% (and growing) of all new mothers are Millennial women.

The Current State for Mothers

Much of this social change has been shouldered by women, and in particular, by mothers.

The biggest impact of this change can be seen in a woman’s time: Over the course of the past century the amount of time mothers spend with their kids has directly increased as her level of education increases. But even as women make more time to spend time with their children, they aren’t “finding” more time. Put simply: [t]ime studies now show that mothers’ time with children has been climbing steeply, at the expense of sleep, personal care, and leisure...since 1985” (Overwhelmed, pg.180).

In instances in which mothers choose not to return to their careers after having kids, their schedules are no less-busy than those of working mothers. Carpools, after-school activities, running for PTA president, crafting the perfect birthday party and running the household have turned motherhood into a profession in itself.

The youngest generation of new moms is building portfolio careers: ones that are defined by the simultaneous pursuit of multiple interests, curiosities and identities. The modern mama is likely to be highly educated, considers her career a journey and is likely to be a co-breadwinner for her household.

A third of college educated women in the US will “opt-out” of their careers at some point to raise children, have children or take care of aging parents. This choice is one that an increasing number of Millennial mothers have made, for personal and economic reasons.

Scholars note that this decision, while deeply personal, will impact a woman’s potential life time earnings over her career. A 2005 Harvard Business Review article by Sylvia Ann Hewlett and Carolyn Buck Lee found that at ages 25-29, women earn 87% of the male wage. By the time they reach 40-to-44 age group, women earn a mere 71% of the male wage. Hewlett and Lee point out that although the average amount of time women take from their careers is less than three years, the reduction in salary upon return can near 40%. And yet, many women choose to be at home with their children during those crucial early years. We must do more to help these women, too.

Organizations are slowly starting to pay attention to the difficulty women face upon attempting to re-enter the workforce but we are far from where we need to be. I’ve come to believe that the only way can make progress on this issue for Millennial families is for men and women to address this issue together, as partners in change.

What Millennial Men and Women Can Do Together

A recent NYT article by Claire Cain Miller looked at how workplace policies aimed at providing more flexibility for women have backfired in countries around the world. The major take-away? Family-friendly policies aren’t women’s issues or men’s issues; they’re human issues.

Work-life balance is not a ‘woman’s issue.’ Nor is Millennials’ growing desire for flexible work, or our need to professionally evolve with social and technological change.

As Millennial men and women consolidate into the workforce and become the newest cohort of parents (ushering in the new era of Generation Z) there are many opportunities for change that we must address together. They include:

  • Gender equality in society
  • Family-friendly policies
  • The growing role of technology in our lives
  • The role and definition of “work”
  • Re-defining the role (and cost) of higher education
  • Maturing perspectives on our relationships to the earth, and our role in it

Millennial men will have to help bring the gender revolution full circle. To be clear, that is not a euphemism to say that men will or should dictate conversations about gender equality. But if gender equality is what we are working towards, then men will have to do their part.

This means re-thinking what it means to be a significant other so that the expectations of child rearing and professional careerism are shared as desired by each couple, and not as dictated by gender scripts. This applies as much to mothers who desire to on-ramp back onto their careers, to fathers who choose to stay home with the children.

This will require a commitment not only from us as Millennials, but also from the organizations with which we work.

We already know that Millennials are innovative and willing to change with the time. Perhaps our opportunity lies in having the privilege of using our Millennial drive for purpose and meaning to help engage each other in a robust reexamination about what it means to be a father, mother, and human in the 21st century. I’m in.

We're so glad to live in a time when modern baby gear exists. Sure, no one is going to argue that having a baby is easy—but it can be easier with support from some gadgets designed to help your baby and put your mind at ease.

As you build your baby registry, look for products that go the extra mile to make your life a whole lot easier. For example, what's better than a bassinet? A bassinet that can rock by itself. And what's better than a traditional baby monitor? One that allows you to actually take a peek at your baby. Believe us when we say these upgrades can make all the difference.

Here are 10 baby gadgets that will make your life so much easier… relatively speaking, of course!

A bassinet to promote safe + sound sleep

HALO Innovations Bassinest Swivel Sleeper Essenta Series Nautical Net

The safest place for your newborn to sleep is in your room, but not in your bed. Thanks to the swivel function of the Halo Bassinest, you can easily tend to your baby during the night—which means more sleep for you, too. Trust us when we say that is the best gift you can give a new parent.


A smart swing for your baby

4moms mamaRoo 4 Bluetooth Enabled High-Tech Baby Swing - Classic

Believe it or not, many babies are born with strong opinions about how they want to be rocked, swung or shushed to calm down. With the mamaRoo's various motions and reclining positions, you'll be able to find a setting your baby loves when you need to free up your hands for a bit.


A complete travel system for car + sidewalk

Chicco Bravo Travel System - Indigo

No matter where the day takes you—or what mode of transportation you need to get there—getting a complete travel system for your baby will equip you for anything.


A swaddle you don’t have to wrestle

Love To Dream Swaddle UP Original

What do babies and Harry Houdini have in common? A knack for breaking out of tight constraints—which can be a headache when swaddling is the best way to help promote good sleep. Thanks to a breakout-proof swaddle that allows your baby to sleep with their hands up, you don't have to work up a sweat just to get your baby comfortably swaddled.


A nursery wherever you need it

Baby Trend Lil Snooze Deluxe II Nursery Center

During the early days of parenting (when you are feeding and changing your baby around the clock), having convenient access to everything you need with a go-anywhere nursery station can save you serious time and energy.


A little help for stuffy noses

Fridababy NoseFrida Nasal Aspirator

Up until the point years down the road when your child is able to blow their own nose, the sniffles can be a real struggle—but not with a nasal aspirator that makes it easy for you to get that snot out of their nose.


A way to keep an eye on your baby

VTech 5" Digital Video Baby Monitor - VM5251

Trust us when we say you'll sleep better when you know your baby is also sleeping soundly. That's why we're so thankful for modern-day video monitors, which allow you to check in on your sleeping baby without running the risk of waking them up when you sneak in for a peek.


A bassinet for hands-free rocking

Simmons Kids Silent Auto Gliding Elite Bassinet - Odyssey

Babies are soothed by rocking motions. But what does that mean for you if you can't rock them throughout the night? With an auto-gliding bassinet, they can comfortably drift off to sleep... and continue snoozing.


An easy way to contain diaper smells

Diaper Genie Expressions Pail

Sometimes it's the little conveniences that make a big difference in the quality of your day-to-day life. That's why a great diaper pail should not be undervalued: By containing the smell, you will save yourself dozens upon dozens of trips to the garbage can.


A white noise machine that pulls double duty

Hatch Rest Sound Machine, Night Light & Time-to-Rise

A phone-controlled sound machine may be something you never considered until now, but it will be a major lifesaver for years to come, especially as it can also function as a time-to-rise clock that promotes good sleep habits for your child.


And as for securing all these awesome products? Well, a Target baby registry is the way to do it. By creating your baby registry with Target, you will also enjoy their Year of Benefits registry program, which includes perks like a welcome kit with more than $100 in savings and samples, two 15% off coupons to complete your registry, and a full year of returns. The benefits are better than ever right now: Target just launched the Year of Exclusive Deals perk as one of its registry benefits, and this includes a year's worth of discounts on baby essentials (think diapers and formula) and comes complementary when you sign up for Target Circle.

Because while parenting may not be "easy," deciding to register with Target definitely is an easy decision. Start your Target baby registry now and enjoy shopping with a Year of Benefits featuring a Year of Exclusive Deals available via Target Circle, two 15% off coupons, a year of hassle-free returns, a free welcome kit and more!

This article was sponsored by Target. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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