Modern parenting

Times have changed quickly. Here, parents discuss how to get the best from what the world has to offer and avoid modern pitfalls.

The world and our relationships within it have changed since we were kids. There’s more choice, more information, more time pressures, more expectations and more opportunities. Here's how some parents have navigated modern parenting...

Technology

Let’s face it, the biggest change for most of us since we were babies is the radical change in technology over the last 20 or 30 years. The internet, smartphones and all the apps and brands that come with them have made life easier and harder. They can hugely increase convenience but also steal all your time (in case you had any left after looking after the little one). Here are a few tips from the parents we talk to on how to navigate our up-teched lives:

“Whatever you do, don’t believe the social media hype. I’ve seen friends post picture perfect scenes of their domestic bliss only to have the same mum break down on me over a coffee. Enjoy social for what it is. A bit of a laugh.”

Deepti, mum to Praveen, eight months

“Amazon Prime and Alexa saved my life. I’m not a techie by any standards but being able to order nappies there and then means I’ve got more headspace and one less thing to worry about.”

Corinne, mum to Anna, 14 months

“I moved to a whole new city when Leah was a year old. I was dead nervous about being lonely but there are so many mum dating apps, like Mush and Peanut, that I started to make friends really quickly. And every town will have its own local forum advertising meetups and soft plays.”

Jasmine, mum to Leah, 18 months and Carl, two months

“We’ve got a rule now of no phones when Jojo’s awake. She’s totally seen how important they are to us and even though she can’t turn them on, she giggles just holding one. And it’s not fair on her if she’s having to fight for our attention because we’re addicted to our screens.”

Clive, dad to Jojo, 16 months

“I find the internet a bit overwhelming at times. But I feel confident that all the big purchases I’ve made for Edie, like her cot, car seat, buggy, etc, are the best I can afford, at the best price. Chris (my partner) gets annoyed at all the research I do, but who doesn’t love a bargain?”

Isla, mum to Edie, nine months

Attitudes

Gone are the days of dad doing the nine to five and mum staying in all day, keeping the house straight and preparing dinner. Parents tell us that although society is far from perfect, bringing up kids in the 2010s feels a lot more preferable to how their parents describe it:

“I don’t take breastfeeding in public for granted. I love the fact that I can feed Larry pretty much anywhere now and no-one even notices. One of my aunties tells me about the comments she used to get, to the point where she nearly stopped breastfeeding and was really upset. If anyone said anything to me, they’d get a rattle in the face.”

Nicole, mum to Larry, four months

“I feel so lucky about how much time I get to spend with my daughter. I’m freelance and want to be as hands on as possible and it’s great knowing that’s completely acceptable. I’m right in there at the soft play, chasing Jones and getting involved. And it’s great when you see another dad there too.”

Scott, dad to Joanie, 16 months

“We’re pretty flexible with the routine at the moment. If we go out for a drink or meal in the evening, he usually sleeps through in the car seat and no-one seems to mind. If he’s awake, he’s usually making people laugh. It feels great that people are welcoming to our whole family.”

Zosia, mum to Adam, 11 months

Entertainment

When we talk to parents, it’s clear our attitudes towards keeping little ones entertained has definitely changed. Not only are there more leisure time and entertainment choices available. Parents tell us it’s usually the kids who choose what to do – for better or for worse:

“When I was growing up, the most entertaining thing we did was a trip to a carpet warehouse. I don’t think soft play existed back then. Even if it did, you’d never get my dad going. My sister and I definitely fitted around what my parents wanted to do.”

James, dad to Frank, 20 months and Sally, two months

“For us, it’s trying to find a balance between making sure she’s stimulated and developing but not spoiling her. We’re conscious we need a life too, but it’s hard to miss out on an opportunity if we think it will benefit her.”

Angela, mum to Ottie, five months

“Because there’s so much on, it means there’s loads we can do as a family. Will (my partner) enjoys messing around in the soft plays as much as Lily, and it gives me a breather to catch up with my life. Things really seem designed to keep parents entertained as much as kids.”

Sarah, mum of Lily, 15 months and Michael, one month

Health

We might hope it’s fish and chips, but chances are it’ll be kale and quinoa for tea. Followed by baby yoga and a mindfulness session. The health revolution has meant the parents we talk to have to navigate a whole new set of ideas.  They’re ideas their own parents probably wouldn’t recognise, let alone get involved with:

“Food is a hot topic in our home. There’s so much choice and we’re so conscious of feeding them healthy meals and snacks that it’s easy to get obsessed. My partner is a bit more old school. We try and find a balance between treats, convenience, expense and nutrition.”

Carla, mum to Daniel, two years and Frieda, six months

“We both want him to be healthy but it’s also about finding time to do everything. My wife wants to cook everything from scratch, I want to take him to the park and make sure he’s outdoors enough. It’s exhausting. We’re trying to get better at dividing the workload – it’s the only way to get through everything.”

David, dad to Jun, one year

“I never thought I’d do anything like baby yoga, but we’ve found a class where we can all go along so it’s brilliant to share the experience with my partner. It makes a real difference if we can all do something together.”

Aileen, mum to Connor and Molly, 19 months

It’s fair to say times have changed, and largely for the better according to these parents. Yes, there is more pressure but also more fun for the whole family it seems. Where things can go awry sometimes is navigating this modern world with your children’s grandparents. You can explore this idea more in our article about grandparents.

And if you’re finding the pressures of modern parenting too much, talking it out can be a wonderful relief. Lean on friends, family and social networks. One real benefit of social networks being always on, is you can reach out to other parents day or night. Winner.

This page was last reviewed in December 2018.

Further information

Our support line offers practical and emotional support with feeding your baby and general enquiries for parents, members and volunteers: 0300 330 0700. 

Make friends with other parents-to-be and new parents in your local area for support and friendship by seeing what NCT activities are happening nearby. To find out when an NCT nearly new sale is happening near you, search here.

You might find attending one of NCT's Early Days groups helpful as they give you the opportunity to explore different approaches to important parenting issues with a qualified group leader and other new parents in your area.

Read further articles on relationships in our dedicated section. 

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