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The growing trend of ‘minimalist parenting’ in a tech-reliant world

(EDITORIAL) With the natural progression of tech-reliance in the world today, there is a new trend toward minimalist parenting. Are you parenting right?

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Kid using VR googles representing parenting in a digital world.

Every generation must grapple with new challenges of parenting, but that seems especially true of this generation. As parenting advice spreads across the web and self-help books like wildfire our generation is rife with contradictory ideas, too many articles where fact and opinion are interchangeable, and truths are accepted without condition.

It’s no secret that many parents are skeptical of the effect technology is having on their children.

Studies have shown that leaving a child in front of an iPad or television can have detrimental long-lasting effects such as delayed speech, and deferred emotional and social development. Now a new trend, borne of the minimalism movement (see the great success of the art of tidying up and a focus on experiences over things) is suggesting that children need far less than we’re giving them and that kids with fewer toys are able to explore their imagination free of distractions.

Raised Good is a compassionate blog that questions our dependence on the many things we need to raise our children. One blog post discussed a German kindergarten that removed toys from the classroom and allowed students to explore their day completely unstructured. The children began confused at their bare surroundings, but soon they played with the classroom’s chairs and blankets making little forts. Then they began engaging with each other, communicating and creating intense and imaginative worlds.

Boredom and lack of stimulation breeds creativity. Ask any artist ever.

But is stringent minimalism the best solution in a world full of things? If our children don’t use technology will they be at a disadvantage when they start school, or worse yet, spend hours consuming screens when their exposure eventually becomes unavoidable?

Fear of doing it wrong

I was recently gifted some baby hand-me-downs and found to my surprise the sheer number of things I now have just for the baby to lie down in. But what do I know about babies?

This is exactly the problem.

Perhaps our reliance on proprietary things comes from a deep insecurity about what it will be like to parent.

Our fear of doing it wrong, or not giving our child enough overwhelms our pragmatism; our gut feeling that says, “Isn’t this excessive?”

The internet says we need these various apparatus and tools while experts demand we play our baby Mozart in the womb, let our baby cry themselves to sleep, teach our infant to sign, code, or use the toilet at three months old. It doesn’t take long to find experts that tell you to do exactly the opposite.

When we are nagged by the thought that either we are doing too little, or that we are giving too much, how can we listen to our guts and raise our children in a way that feels right to us?

More than one way

As millennials begin to raise generation Alpha (born 2010-2025) we will likely see more of a push toward minimalism in child-rearing, and likely more diverse and divisive theories about parenting, and that’s okay.

Perhaps the new breadth of parenting information that this generation is blessed and cursed with will give new parents permission to follow their guts.

When my little nugget shows up in November, I plan on making parenting choices slowly. I will learn with my baby as my baby learns with me, and I will keep in mind that every parent, child, and family is different.

Maybe that will be the millennial’s mark on parenting, that our very treasured uniqueness requires a variety of parenting styles, and that we may take parenting advice with a big grain of salt.

C. L. Brenton is a staff writer at The American Genius. She loves writing about all things, she’s even won some contests doing it! For everything C. L. check out her website

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Paul O'Brien

    July 26, 2017 at 3:48 pm

    “It’s no secret that many parents are skeptical of the effect technology is having on their children.”

    Great article.

    I’m skeptical of the need schools seem to have to fund tablets so kids can be exposed to technology. I’m skeptical of the VAST difference between a kid watching and learning from a television show OR learning to make a computer work vs. learning to wiggle their finger to play Candy Crush.

    That said…
    Building with minecraft? Figuring out how to create a website? Playing coding or math games? Producing a movie with their smart phone? Figuring out how to podcast? Playing with robotics?
    Worth all the time in the world.

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Opinion Editorials

Shady salary transparency is running rampant: What to look out for

(EDITORIAL) Employees currently have the upper hand in the market. Employers, you must be upfront about salary and approach it correctly.

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Man holding money in the dark representing false salary transparency.

It’s the wild wild west out there when it comes to job applications. Job descriptions often misrepresent remote work opportunities. Applicants have a difficult time telling job scams from real jobs. Job applicants get ghosted by employers, even after a long application process. Following the Great Resignation, many employers are scrambling for workers. Employees have the upper hand in the hiring process, and they’re no longer settling for interviews with employers that aren’t transparent, especially about salary.

Don’t be this employer

User ninetytwoturtles shared a post on Reddit in r/recruitinghell in which the employer listed the salary as $0 to $1,000,000 per year. Go through many listings on most job boards and you’ll find the same kind of tactics – no salary listed or too large of a wide range. In some places, it’s required to post salary information. In 2021, the Equal Pay for Equal Work Act went into effect in Colorado. Colorado employers must list salary and benefits to give new hires more information about fair pay. Listing a broad salary range skirts the issue. It’s unfair to applicants, and in today’s climate, employers are going to get called out on it. Your brand will take a hit.

Don’t obfuscate wage information

Every employer likes to think that their employees work because they enjoy the job, but let’s face it, money is the biggest motivator. During the interview process, many a job has been lost over salary negotiations. Bringing up wages too early in the application process can be bad for a job applicant. On the other hand, avoiding the question can lead to disappointment when a job is offered, not to mention wasted time. In the past, employers held all the cards. Currently, it’s a worker’s market. If you want productive, quality workers, your business needs to be honest and transparent about wages.

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Opinion Editorials

3 reasons to motivate yourself to declutter your workspace (and mind)

(EDITORIAL) Making time to declutter saves time and money – all while reducing stress. Need a little boost to start? We all need motivation sometimes.

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Clean work desk representing the need to declutter.

It’s safe to say that we’ve all been spending a lot more time in our homes these last few years. This leads us to fixate on the things we didn’t have time for before – like a loose doorknob, an un-alphabetized bookshelf, or that we’ve put off ‘declutter’ on our to-do list for too long.

The same goes for our workspaces. Many of us have had to designate a spot at home to use for work purposes. For those of you who still need to remain on-site, you’ve likely been too busy to focus on your surroundings.

Cleaning and organizing your workspace every so often is important, regardless of the state of the world, and with so much out of our control right now, this is one of the few things we can control.

Whether you’re working from a home office or an on-site office, take some time for quarantine decluttering. According to The Washington Post, taking time to declutter can increase your productivity, lower stress, and save money (I don’t know about you, but just reading those 3 things makes me feel better already).

Clutter can cause us to feel overwhelmed and make us feel a bit frazzled. Having an office space filled with piles of paper containing irrelevant memos from five years ago or 50 different types of pens has got to go – recycle that mess and reduce your stress. The same goes with clearing files from your computer; everything will run faster.

Speaking of running faster, decluttering and creating a cleaner workspace will also help you be more efficient and productive. Build this habit by starting small: try tidying up a bit at the end of every workday, setting yourself up for a ready-to-roll morning.

Cleaning also helps you take stock of stuff that you have so that you don’t end up buying more of it. Create a designated spot for your tools and supplies so that they’re more visible – this way, you’ll always know what you have and what needs to be replenished. This will help you stop buying more of the same product that you already have and save you money.

So, if you’ve been looking to improve your focus and clearing a little bit of that ‘quarantine brain’, start by getting your workspace in order. You’ll be amazed at how good it feels to declutter and be “out with the old”; you may even be inspired to do the same for your whole house. Regardless, doing this consistently will create a positive shift in your life, increasing productivity, reducing stress, and saving you money.

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Opinion Editorials

How to identify and minimize ‘invisible’ work in your organization

(EDITORIAL) Often meaningless, invisible tasks get passed down to interns and women. These go without appreciation or promotion. How can we change that?

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Women in a meeting around table, inclusion as a part of stopping gender discrimination representing invisible work.

Invisible work, non-promotable tasks, and “volunteer opportunities” (more often volun-told), are an unfortunate reality in the workforce. There are three things every employer should do in relation to these tasks: minimize them, acknowledge them, and distribute them equitably.

Unfortunately, the reality is pretty far from this ideal. Some estimates state up to 75% or more of these time-sucking, minimally career beneficial activities are typically foisted on women in the workplace and are a leading driver behind burnout in female employees. The sinister thing about this is most people are completely blind to these factors; it’s referred to as invisible work for a reason.

Research from Harvard Business Review* found that 44% more requests are presented to women as compared to men for “non-promotable” or volunteer tasks at work. Non-promotable tasks are activities such as planning holiday events, coordinating workplace social activities, and other ‘office housework’ style activities that benefit the office but typically don’t provide career returns on the time invested. The work of the ‘office mom’ often goes unacknowledged or, if she’s lucky, maybe garners some brief lip service. Don’t be that boss that gives someone a 50hr workload task for a 2-second dose of “oh yeah thanks for doing a bajillion hours of work on this thing I will never acknowledge again and won’t help your career.”  Yes, that’s a thing. Don’t do it. If you do it, don’t be surprised when you have more vacancies than staff. You brought that on yourself.

There is a lot of top-tier talent out there in the market right now. To be competitive, consider implementing some culture renovations so you can have a more equitable, and therefore more attractive, work culture to retain your top talent.

What we want to do:

  1. Identify and minimize invisible work in your organization
  2. Acknowledge the work that can’t be avoided. Get rid of the blind part.
  3. Distribute the work equitably.

Here is a simple example:

Step 1: Set up a way for staff to anonymously bring things to your attention. Perhaps a comment box. Encourage staff to bring unsung heroes in the office to your attention. Things they wish their peers or they themselves received acknowledgment for.

Step 2: Read them and actually take them seriously. Block out some time on your calendar and give it your full attention.

For the sake of demonstration, let’s say someone leaves a note about how Caroline always tidies up the breakroom at the end of the day and cleans the coffee pot with supplies Caroline brings from home. Now that we have identified a task, we are going to acknowledge it, minimize it, and consider the distribution of labor.

Step 3: Thank Caroline at the team meeting for scrubbing yesterday’s burnt coffee out of the bottom of the pot every day. Don’t gloss over it. Make the acknowledgment mean something. Buy her some chips out of the vending machine or something. The smallest gestures can have the biggest impact when coupled with actual change.

Step 4: Remind your staff to clean up after themselves. Caroline isn’t their mom. If you have to, enforce it.

Step 5: Put it in the office budget to provide adequate cleaning supplies for the break room and review your custodial needs. This isn’t part of Caroline’s job description and she could be putting that energy towards something else. Find the why of the situation and address it.

You might be rolling your eyes at me by now, but the toll of this unpaid invisible work has real costs.  According to the 2021 Women in the Workplace Report* the ladies are carrying the team, but getting little to none of the credit. Burnout is real and ringing in at an all-time high across every sector of the economy. To be short, women are sick and tired of getting the raw end of the deal, and after 2 years of pandemic life bringing it into ultra-sharp focus, are doing something about it. In the report, 40% of ladies were considering jumping ship. Data indicates that a lot of them not only manned the lifeboats but landed more lucrative positions than they left. Now is the time to score and then retain top talent. However, it is up to you to make sure you are offering an environment worth working in.

*Note: the studies cited here do not differentiate non-cis-identifying persons. It is usually worse for individuals in the LGBTQIA+ community.

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