A big part of my job here at Saatchi is to understand people, their lives,
what they care about. We work on a lot of brands here that women
Every year we have literally thousands of conversations with real moms
around the world. One of the tricky parts of my job is I am not really
supposed to rely on my own personal experience as a mom, but rather
represent what moms everywhere are experiencing.
But when I thought about what I might talk about today I wanted to
break that rule make it a little personal. My own story of being a 43
year old “new mom” with two kids under the age of four, and my own
So that was my ﬁrst thought---but what really kicked it in gear was
this recent article in New York Magazine called “All joy. No Fun.”
Subtitle: Why parens hate parenting. All my friends were sending it to
me, oh my god you have to read this. And I did and it kind of pissed
Remind me of Dorothea Lange photos of dust bowl stricken mothers
and their young.
Not a refutation of this article which was ﬁlled with data and of course
a good juicy read like the NYMag we all know and love
I just wanted to start a different conversation, inspired by a few
theories we’ve developed here at Saatchi from our research.
21 to 27 in the last 40 years
Number of babies born to women 40+ has doubled in the last three
I know what kind of music I like. What my personal style is. Maybe
upgraded one or two pieces of furniture from the IKEA stuff and hand
Started really establishing your cultural identity and that has had a big
effect on parenting styles.
We’re taking longer to grow up. There was an article a couple years
ago in NYT about the Odyssey years, the wandering we all do between
adolesence and adulthood---it’s getting longer. In 1960 more than
70% of 30 year olds had achieved traditional milestones of adulthood,
things like moving away from home, getting married, becoming
ﬁnancially independent, and having a baby. In 2007 less than 40%
had. I think this is less about some Peter Pan syndrome, it’s more like I
am enjoying life this way. Who doesn’t want to feel young? And on the
other end, kids are become active cultural participants earlier and
earlier. I worked on the Barbie brand a few years ago and that was
always an indicator to me, at what age a girl asks for her ﬁrst Barbie,
her ﬁrst fashion doll. In the 70s it was 7. By 2007 it was 3. We’re
getting closer together, sharing one culture.
Here’s a photo one of our researchers took from a cross country
journey talking to new moms. In this home the nursery is also the DJ
studio. What I love about this example is that this couple did not grow
up our of their cultural identity just because they had a kid. They’re
making both work. “Just because we had a baby does mean we’re
changing who we are.”
So back to my favorite article from NY Mag. The author referred to a
collection of essays by women called Maybe Baby---the themes of
freedom, travel, personal explorations came up a lot amongst those
who chose not to have children. In many ways we can have a bigger life
I took this photo last night of our one bookcase along the hallway in
our two bedroom apartment where four people and a cat live. My
husband had to clear out all his music books from the bottom shelves
for the kids books and slowly their toys have been creeping in too.
There’s simply no getting around the fact that there’s less room for
you in a life with kids. Not just space for things, but on a more
fundamental human level you’re in tight quarters.
Ok. Then we’re going to make some lemonade. Since we’re all having
kids later and know who we are and what we like, chances are we’re
not turning our space over to a giant purple dinosaur who’s voice has
been known to induce seizures. Today that smaller life inspires
sharing, not sacriﬁce.
The traditional gatekeeper parenting model is a Yes and No dictator,
where we stand as judge and jury.
We’re seeing here a shift to a new paradigm that emphasizes common
ground, about turning you kids onto good things.
It’s about shared culture together, not sacriﬁced adult culture and
sacriﬁcial quality kids crap.
Let’s take movies. Ten years ago seven of the top ten movies were
rated R; last year 7 out of ten were G or PG and four were animated.
Walle was simply a great movie. Period.
The gatekeeper paradigm also means your sharing your style with your
kids. Not a creepy total mini me, but if you can tell who the kids
parents are by what they’re wearing. Back to our DJ couple who had a
baby. The dad made these when his wife was pregnant. If you can’t
read them these onesies say “got vinyl, Future DJ, and Hardstyle. I
remember a long time ago, in the 90s, taking photos of college
students wearing t-shirts that with imprints like “boys lie” and “chicks
dig pale scrawny guys” . But these are even better than those t-shirts
because they’ve got snaps in the crotch.
Now my kids would DIE to have this “Step 2 Lifestyle Deluxe Kitchen
with realistic sounds, granite style countertop, and 38 piece accessory
set. But we’d have to get rid of our dining table. And I like my dining
table, even if it’s got a few arts and crafts scars on it. But the reality is
their favorite toy is my iPad. This is a little different than the timeless
insight that kids like the real phone better than the fake one. They are
actually quite capable of, in some instances better at, the functionality
of new smart phones and tablets then we the parents are. We recently
did a ﬁeld study on kids and their access to and interaction with all
things digital, and we discovered that Kids, and I’m talking small ones,
know that if they keep clicking the mouse or touching the screen that
something will happen—one kid clicked at a rate if 100x per minute.
We still tend to expect devices to have the logic of a control panel.
They are much more comfortable with the ambiguity of the experience.
Try leaving a two year old alone with an iPhone. He’ll be watching
youtube videos before love.. And he’ll probably type before long
before he writes.
When my brother had his son who’s now a second grader, I remember
him switching out his Beastie Boys CDs in his car for this band called
The Wiggles, an australian kids band, one of the ﬁrst really big kid
music sensations on a commercial scale.
Today you can still get the Wiggles, but you can also get Dinosaur
Jr.’;s many kid albums, or the Barenaked Ladies, or Ziggy Markley s.
One of our favorite labels Baby Loves Disco a out kid albums from
bands like Jurassic 5, their kid nom de plume is the Dino 5.
But more and more our kids just love the same music we love. I think
this is a little like those smart parents who never start feeding their
kids mac and cheese and they’re eating sushi and lamb as toddlers.
Ziggy’s kid album is great, but just plain ol Bob Marley is pretty good
for kids too. Both of mine go to sleep every night to three little birds.
Play you an example of the range we have in kids music today. A
traditional kids song the Wheels on the Bus vs Ting Tings cover of
Happy Birthday, which happens to be my daughter’s favorite song of
late. The choice is yours.
Wabi sabi is Japanese for the art of imperfection. Taking pleasure in
the ﬂaws. A lot of new moms watched their moms try to have it all ---
and they know you can’t. Superwoman is a myth. Work life balance is
a myth. So there’s been a bit of a reversal on this one---not only
acceptance that we can’t do it all, but a celebration of it. Flaunting our
ﬂaws. Joking about the fact that don’t want your kids to learn to read a
clock because that means you can’t put them to bed early when you
need a break is not only au courant, it’s a relief to admit. There is a
whole new genre of bad parenting books with titles like Dirty Secrets
and Notes from the Asylum---I actually was given two copies of this
when I was pregnant with my ﬁrst. Thanks for the high hopes people.
But aside from good relatable fun content, all this serves to let us know
as parents that doing our best,, and doing it our own way, is actually
totally OK and pretty damn good.
Instant archiving ampliﬁes the amount of pleasure you get.
Psychologists will say that when we look back on past events we’ve
archived or documented in some way, we tend to gild them with a
Nostalgia feels good.
Average kid born in the 70s would have had maybe a half dozen big
photo opps a year. Halloween, christmas, birthday, ﬁrst day of school.
Photos all tucked away in a shoebox or album somewhere.
Today we’re taking thousands and thousands of photos and videos and
we’re probably carrying a lot of them around in our pockets every day.
We can get the instant afterglow that adds to our feelings of pleasure
and reward. Every Sunday night at my place we all crash on our bed
and look at all the photos and little movies we made over the weekend.
A trip to Central Park is instantly elevated to a little Godart ﬁlm with
the kids running hand in hand. Of course we did not archive the
tantrums and whining. Isnt this great??? Wasn’t this an amazing,
perfect weekend? I love instant nostalgia because it rewards me as a
parent whenever I have a moment to do something as simple as turn
on my phone and look at the screensaver.
Ok my last but favorite thing to talk about today and really to anyone
who will listen elsewhere in my life as my colleagues will attest. Yo
Gabba Gabba. One of my favorite TV shows period. Hosted by one DJ
Lance who wears Orange high tops and Kozells. My daughter told me
she wants to marry DJ Lance and I had to break it to her gently that DJ
Lance might be more of a friend, she goes shopping with, than a
romantic interest. DJ Lance has guests like Jack Black, Amy Sedaris, the
always creepy Anthony Bourdain, musical guests like the Shins and
Weezer, and a regular segment called Bizs Beat of the Day with Biz
Markie. It’s got all the basics you want like counting and don’t bite
your friends for your kids, but to be clear this is Sesame Street for the
new generation of PARENTS. I look forward to it as much as my kids
and we always watch it together. This is a backstage photo from
Coachella this year where the whole cast of the show performed. I was
never even cool enough to go to Coachella. But Yo Gabba Gabba is. I
think this is Andrew VanWyngarten from the band MGMT hi ﬁving
Brobee, one of the characters from the show.
So the last thing I wanted to share with you today is one of my family’s
favorite counting songs from Yo Gabba Gabba, and just for fun ﬁrst
show you a classic Sesame Street counting video ﬁrst. The lesson’s
the same, the culture is now shared.
VIDEO PLAY: Classic Sesame Street counting video vs. Cornelius
Thank you for letting me talk about my family for seven minutes if
nothing else I hope you at least have some new stuff to download on
iTunes whether you have kids or not.
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