Forget the “Good Old Days,” I Love Being a 21st-Century Parent

Image Source: Thinkstock
Image Source: Thinkstock

Working from home during the summer with a 3-year-old breeds a whole new kind of chaos and crazy, but it’s one I wouldn’t change for the world. I can’t count the number of times I’ve thought this over the last week (our first unofficial week of summer), as well as over the course of the year.

Every time things get a little bit past crazy and into overwhelming territory, I step back and think about what that sentence really means.

I work from home while raising my 3-year-old.

There is no other generation as of yet that’s been able to honestly say they hold down a real job while also staying home with their kids (without it meaning some kind of crazy, hectic, never sleep, juggling of a schedule, at least).

But now, in the 21st century, it’s becoming more and more normal, and I’m getting fewer and fewer odd puzzled looks when I answer the ever-popular question of, “So what do you do?” with both a “work” and “stay at home” response. I can only imagine it’s going to continue becoming more and more mainstream as the trend of working remotely, telecommuting, and Internet-based jobs gets more popular.

While my family’s job-life situation is one of the biggest factors that make me grateful for the Internet and all the technology that comes with the 21st century, I realize just how much I rely on our advanced time when it comes to my parenting. I’m almost ashamed to admit how much my skill set depends on Jetson-like technology, but there’s nothing wrong with embracing the opportunities available to you.

Since my little guy was just a few days old, I’ve been joking that I’d never be able to parent without the Internet, and the funniest part (or saddest?) is that it’s almost completely true. The first night we were in the hospital with my newborn son, I turned to my newly-acquired smart phone (have to be able to take pictures 24-7, right?) and downloaded a white noise app, both to quiet my screaming baby and to gain a little peace from the hospital chaos so my husband and I could snag a little rest.

In the weeks that followed, I poured over the Internet, practically referring to Dr. Google as my pediatrician. While there are certainly downfalls with using the Internet to answer your thousands of questions, it’s the best resource I found as a new mom. I was able to figure out that my son’s screams and cries weren’t in fact normal; that he had silent reflux, and a combination of diet changes and medication could ease his pain. They were answers I wasn’t getting from my own pediatrician, fellow mom friends, or my family.

Google to the rescue.

I learned about breastfeeding complications and how to solve them, and I learned of the holy grail known as sleep training. I even used a sleep consultant in another country to help me try to solve my baby’s sleep problems. (It didn’t work, but that’s a story for another day.)

Now, as a more seasoned mom (as if I can call myself that at only three years in), I still rely on modern day technology on a daily basis. I don’t mean I use tablets and phones and gadgets and gizmos to entertain or distract my child all day long. He can go all day without touching any of those things, happy to play with Tupperware and cotton balls and whatever other non-toys he can get his hands on. It’s that I use them to help us plan our days, learn about activities, and understand age-appropriate development.

When I can’t get to the library to check out all the books on whatever stage of terror we’re currently going through (which I’ve been known to do), I can turn to the Internet. I can easily find recipes to try that fit our huge list of restrictions without spending tons of money on fancy cookbooks that may or may not meet our needs. I can even order ingredients the local stores don’t always carry and have them show up on my doorstep.

When we’ve been stuck inside and I can’t stand the idea of attempting one more Pinterest craft, activity, or recipe (see, more technology), I turn to local community calendars and mom groups looking for things to do and people to connect with. A game of phone tag among a group of friends trying to plan a group outing with a bunch of kids in the background is the last thing I can think of wanting to do, yet sending a simple group text or making a Facebook event is a piece of cake.

Motherhood can be oh so lonely, yet turning to technology can allow you to find other moms or kids in your area going through the same things that you are. Maybe it’s for support for the terrible threes or maybe it’s for a playdate at the park when you just can’t handle being alone anymore. Sometimes it’s for support from people you don’t even know, on group boards or forums where you can ask questions without worrying about being judged. Other times it’s just to see what’s happening in the community on any given day, when you don’t have time to swing by the library to check out a bulletin board of community events.

I’ve learned about story times at different libraries, movies on the lawn, scavenger hunts, music classes, and more. Then there’s always sports teams and lessons to find and schedule, and not worrying about reading a map when you’re trying to go somewhere new with an unhappy passenger in the back seat.

I’m not someone who has to have all the latest and greatest devices or things, but I never knew how much I appreciated the time we live in today in order to make the most of parenting days. Not only does this allow me to pave the way for a work-life balance that works for our family, it makes our days fun, simple, and stress-free at the same time.

While I love the nostalgic idea of old-fashioned communities where everyone lives close together and all the moms take care of everyone’s kids as a group, I’m most appreciative of the opportunities and freedoms current times have allowed moms and families to have in the midst of our crazy, fast-paced world of today.

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