After dropping her three children off at preschool, Joanna Navarrete gets on the Internet and promotes her business. She blogs. She reviews. She posts information on websites — all to get expecting moms to hire her for consultations or attend her monthly classes on caring for multiples.
“I want to feel productive and benefit my home,” says the 32-year-old Miami mother. “But I’m doing it more because I want to help moms of multiples feel supported.”
Millennial moms like Navarrete may be the generation to end the mommy wars: These women, born after 1980, don’t draw a line between stay-at-home mom and working mom because they are almost all earning income — even while home with their children. They take risks, aren’t afraid of failure, and they find financial opportunities in places prior generations overlooked, according to research and interviews by Maria Bailey, author of the newly released book Millennial Moms: 202 Facts Marketers Need to Know to Build Brands and Drive Sales.
“These are extremely tech-savvy, extremely innovative women who value work but on their own terms,” Bailey says. Millennial moms sell products and services through social media. They work as contractors or contributors for former employers. They take risks on ventures, even with student debt, because want to do great things. In typical millennial fashion, these mothers are rewriting the rules of business and motherhood as they go.
So, far only there are an estimated 13 million millennial moms in the U.S., only about a third of the 42 million millennial women, which means their true impact of millennial moms has yet to be felt, according to research by Bailey’s BSM Media. Already, they are proving a distinct and sought-after group. “To be competitive, businesses need these women who know how to build online relationships and understand the way millennials are communicating,” Bailey says.
It’s no secret that millennials have started some of the most innovative businesses of the past five years, and women fall heavily into this group. Shannon O’Reilly-Fearn, a 34-year-old millennial mom, worked in publishing before giving birth to twin girls. While pregnant, she saw a need for classes and in-home consultations for expecting parents of multiples. She launched Twin Love Concierge, which now employs six mothers, including Navarette in Miami, who help take her concept to cities across America.
“Everything I do is in the hours my girls are asleep, and I often work through the night,” O’Reilly-Fearn says. “I have six staff members who are moms in the same situation. I work around each mom’s schedule. We are all working to support other moms, but we’re at home with our twins or triplets.”
Clearly, the equalizing nature of social media has given a newfound upper hand to smaller, social media-savvy mommy upstarts like Twin Love Concierge, which uses online channels to market its services to other digitally connected millennial parents.
For employers, those alternate opportunities will force them to think differently about the career paths they create for mothers. Today, women are delaying the age at which they get married and have their first child. The average age of a first-time millennial mom is 26, two years higher than what it was in the mid-’90s, according to a 2015 Millennial Moms report by Goldman Sachs. “Chances are employers will hire these women and have to face the reality they become moms further into their careers,” Bailey says. “An employer may invest four or five years before a woman becomes pregnant, and then they don’t want to lose an employee they have invested a lot into.”
To retain millennial moms, some employers already are becoming creative in structuring jobs. Amy Sobel is a 32-year-old millennial mom who has a 15-month-old son and works from home for her former employer, a Fort Lauderdale marketing firm. Sobel sets her work schedule by the tasks or projects on her plate, hosting a Twitter party for a client during her son’s nap time or conducting a Skype meeting in the evening. “As long as I get done what I need to do, it doesn’t matter when or where the work is done,” she says.
Young mothers like Sobel have different expectations at work and home. They expect their husbands to help with the children and to easily integrate work and family. Where previous generations of mothers saw staying at home as a sacrifice, millennial moms, don’t, Bailey says. Empowered by technology, they are balancing work and family on their terms. And they are completely willing to try different money-making ventures. As Sobel says: “If it doesn’t work, we don’t take it as hard. We’re convinced the next big thing for us is out there.”
Cindy Krischer Goodman writes weekly on work/life issues. Connect with her on Twitter @balancegal, firstname.lastname@example.org or visit worklifebalancingact.com.