I want to start with a disclaimer: I am the worst millennial. For starters, I use a top sheet (apparently we are killing those off?). I also hate avocado toast and to be honest I cannot figure out a good use for Twitter. I laugh when I see headlines about the latest “millennial” thing that we apparently all do, because grouping every single person born within a large number of years into one category and expecting us to be the same in every way is crazier than trying to tell us that Pluto is not a planet – sorry it was, is, and always will be.
So having said all that, there are some great things we can learn from our generation. For example, in true millennial fashion, I crave understanding why and how people work. I blame this on games like M.A.S.H. and all the Seventeen magazine quizzes we took growing up. There’s just something very intriguing about understanding what makes people tick. In college, we looked at things like the Myers Briggs tests, multi-generational workforces, etc. Before I even had my first job I had seen numerous studies about what I would be like to work with as a millennial, what I should expect of other generations and what they’d expect from me.
It didn’t take me long after having kids to realize that a lot of what I had learned about being a millennial in the workplace, applied to my journey through motherhood. The things I need and expected at work were true at home too. Some of these were very eye-opening, and really taught me a lot about myself.
Millennial Claim #1: Millennials crave feedback
This is the claim that because we all got participation ribbons growing up, we now all need pats on the back and a continuous feedback loop. While I hate this about myself, I have to admit this one is true for me. It’s not that I can’t work well without feedback, but I work better when I know what I’m doing right or wrong and how I can improve. At work, I have weekly meetings with my manager to talk about anything that is going on, but also about personal development, goals I’ve set for myself and progress towards them.
I find myself asking my kids “did we have fun today?” But what I really mean is “did I provide enough activities for you?” – aka did I parent well today? It’s a lot of pressure to put on ourselves, especially based on the opinion of a 3-year-old who repeatedly asks for mac and cheese, thinks it’s hilarious to put his shorts on backward and acts like it’s the end of the world when asked to go to the bathroom. But the key here is now I know this about myself. I know I do better with feedback – so if I am feeling brave, I will ask the 3-year-old. If I want honest, I just spend some time reflecting myself. How did I parent today? Did I lose my cool? Was I as patient as I should have been? Are we all still alive? Then I think we’re doing alright today.
Millennial claim #2: Millennials are all about relationships.
We don’t want just a “boss” or “colleagues,” and we don’t like hierarchy. We want to have mentors and friends and have each other’s backs.
I want to be my child’s parent and their friend and it’s SO HARD TO DO BOTH because we can’t. It’s confusing to kids. I was giving my son a timeout for screaming “NO” at me one day and he just kept whining from his timeout chair. I finally just looked at him and said (probably yelled) “why are you whining!?” And he responded, “because you’re not my friend right now!!!” And I just wanted to die. It broke my heart. It took all my effort to not say “you’re right, let’s have ice cream instead of time out,” but I want my toddler to be a functioning adult who can take direction one day, so I waited it out. After the timeout, I explained he wasn’t allowed to scream no at me, and I probably shouldn’t have yelled either. We agreed we’d both try better next time… then we may have had a treat anyway… 🙂
Millennial claim #3: Millennials crave a positive culture and fun workplace.
I sort of combined a few here. But essentially, we like perks! We want flexible time off, the ability to have a beer in the break room, opportunities to give back to the community, good benefits, etc. Basically, we want it all – it’s not just about the money or the title or any other one thing on its own.
This one has been a struggle for me. Because I work full time, I have less time with my kids. So I often feel that I have to shove in ALL THE FUN in the time we have. This means I often force “fun” situations on the family and regret it later. What I mean is I will plan something to death. We will have all these great snacks, and do this great thing, and do this other great thing, and then the grand finale of great things!!! And then somewhere in the middle we are worn out, or something unexpected happens, and I fall apart. This is partially about my need for control, but it’s also because I want to DO IT ALL! Sometimes my husband just nicely nudges me to remember that to a 3-year-old, just one or two things is plenty of fun and sometimes doing nothing is great too. So I’m working on it, and readjusting my definition of fun to that of a 3-year-old acceptable level.