This piece originally appeared on Millennial.
Millennial moms make up 22% of the Mom population in the United States. They are a vital part of a much-maligned generation. Millennials, as a whole, have often been referred to as entitled, lazy and uniformed, among lots of other deleterious adjectives.
Heck, there is even an article with a headline that reads “7 Reasons Why Millennials Are the Worst Generation.”
An older generation complaining about a younger one is not new, but millennials do not deserve abject criticism. In fact, there appears to be one area in which millennials are achieving success in a way their parents and grandparents weren’t able to: finding a work-life balance.
In fact, millennial moms are generally happier than their older counterparts, both in work and in relationships. Let’s take a look at why that is, and what wisdom anyone, no matter their age, can learn from them.
Millennial moms choose their own path
When their moms, baby boomers and Gen Xers think about work, they think about the feminist movement and shattering glass ceilings. However, millennial moms think it is more important that a parent stay home to care for their children than the generations before them thought. In a recent survey, 60 percent of millennials thought a parent should stay home to care for children, while only 50 percent of Generation X and 55 percent of baby boomers agreed. For previous generations, this decision was part of a political and social movement, but today’s young moms see it as a personal choice.
Today’s technology impacts career choices
Teleworking. Flex time. Remote desktops. Thanks to the explosion of technology, millennials see no reason their careers must mean traditional 9-to-5 cubicle work. Instead, they embrace working from home, cutting down on office costs and commute times.
This means more time with family and more time to be productive as well. In New York City, for example, the average time spent delayed during the commute to and from work is 74 hours a year. That’s not just the commute time: That’s the time unexpectedly delayed during a commute. Why not start work as soon as you are able, instead of as soon as you can get yourself to the office?
Smartphones make it easy to respond to email, take a work call and track projects from anywhere. Digital natives who are comfortable relying on technology know that very few jobs actually require sitting at a desk from 9-to-5. Last year, millennials overtook Generation Xers as the largest generation in the workforce, so these preferences will continue influencing workplace traditions and standards.
Picking partners who pick up
Young moms do not think they are solely responsible for the housekeeping, cooking and child care. The idea of equality is so innate in their worldview – thanks to trailblazing moms and grandmas – that it can be the millennial dad who stays at home with the kids or who washes dishes every night.
The Mothers and Daughters: The Working Mother Generations Report shows that millennials are happier with their decision to be an at-work or stay-at-home parent and how the at-home responsibilities are divvied up. This is because millennials seem to be moving toward a more egalitarian home life, one where both mom and dad can chip in to get the work done.
Planning ahead to accommodate life
Millennials do not seem to have the same lineal idea of workplace success. This might be why some accuse millennials of being lazy or unmotivated, when in reality they simply desire flexibility. In fact, millennials site a lack of flexibility as one of the main reasons they leave jobs. As this group is reaching their peak work years, employers will look to retain talent by providing this desired flexibility.
Happy millennial moms plan to ensure they don’t suffer through the same long hours and unforgiving schedule as their parents. If their office job won’t provide the desired flexibility, many create a full-time job out of several freelance positions. What full-time workers might see as a side hustle, millennials see as a full time gig. In fact, 38 percent of millennials are freelancers, more than any other generation.
Millennial mothers also have to look at a company’s maternity leave policy during their planning process. There have been numerous high-profile announcements of family-leave policy changes from industry giants like Facebook, Etsy, Netflix and Spotify. All announced positive changes to their family-leave policies to give young moms more time at home to bond with a newborn. Campbell’s Soup Co. also changed its leave policy recently, and the president said, “We are all about millennial mothers, and this is really good for consumers. Putting those factors together, I just said it’s time.”
Millennial moms are hitting their peak work years at the same time as they embrace family life. Given their access to technology, flexible attitudes toward work and intentional choices of a partner who will pitch in, many moms are able to craft a lifestyle according to their goals and values. Whether a woman decides to work outside of the home or as a stay-at-home mom, it is clear: These choices allow these women – and their families — to live happier lives.