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Are you a mother who is tired of being labeled as a Millennial? Do you find it hard to associate yourself with a digital generation when your childhood was characterized by dial-up internet, snail mail, and broadcasted television? Were you unable to utilize the telephone and internet at the same time growing up, and yet are now reading this article on your smartphone? If you answered yes to any of these questions, chances are you could be a Xennial.
If you have always felt too old to be a Millennial and yet are too young to hang with the Generation X crowd, we now have you covered. Xennials are a micro-generation born between the years of 1977-1983. Although, we don’t feel like the dates alone are what characterize this generation. Xennials were the last generation to have an analog childhood while still experiencing and quickly adapting to a digital adult life. Think you may be a Xennial mother? Keep reading to learn the signs.
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While your child is enjoying the remakes of these classic toys, all you can think about is how much you want to play with them instead. Sure, you could get down there and play alongside them, but chances are your child won’t have much fun listening to you show them the correct way to play with these nostalgic toys of your past. Besides, the originals were much better anyway. So instead, you sit back, grit your teeth and smile (and secretly die a little inside) as your child is completely oblivious to the fact that the My Little Pony ’s of today hardly resemble ponies at all.
Now, we’re not saying you are negligent, but Xennial parents are definitely not the helicopter parents of today. You tend to parent more in the way that you were parented yourself and often step back and let your kids take the lead. Children of Xennials are often allowed to climb the monkey bars (even if they are a bit high), jump in muddy puddles (even though it’s messy), and run ahead a little and explore. Sure, it can be a bit nerve-wracking at times, but you know it’s important for them and their development. Your kids are allowed to jump high and fall down because you know they will get right back up again.
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You lived through the age of dial-up internet, cameras with FILM, cartoons only on Saturday mornings, and having to wait your turn to use the landline or internet (which were not even able to run simultaneously)! You are the queen of patience. Well, at least compared to children of today who were born into the digital age and are used to instant gratification. They want something and they want it NOW. You know that good things often take time, and you are often nostalgic thinking about the days of sweet anticipation and the satisfaction of the final prize. (Of course, not enough to go back to dial-up).
Or, at the very least, you still remember having one. Hotmail was the it method of email communication in your time. Everyone who was anyone had a Hotmail account, and countless hours were spent on creating that perfect handle. Although, dagurlferu303 and Sawxfan4life may not be quite as hip as you once thought. Regardless, Hotmail is one of the world’s oldest webmail services and definitely qualifies you as a Xennial. In fact, while you may still be sporting your Hotmail account, it is impossible to create a new one. Making you the owner of, by definition, an antique. However, we doubt it holds much monetary value.
We don’t mean you lock your child outside or anything. (Which may have been done to you growing up!) However, your kids absolutely know when Mommy says it is time to play outside, you mean business. You need that time to regain your sanity and you are not giving it up; regardless, what the nosy busybodies who live next door think. You played outside growing up and are just fine, and you know your kid will be too. Besides, you have a window and you glance out it every so often. Which is more courtesy than you received growing up.
Though there are sure to be plenty of photos of your child as just that. They were not taken by you, and if they were you were at least late to the game. While your child’s babysitters, aunts, and siblings may be sending you pictures of them with a tiny crown of flowers on their head or a puppy dog snout and tongue, you just can’t seem to figure out the appeal. Sure, you finally succumbed to Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and maybe even Twitter. But, you have yet to give into Snapchat. Somehow you don’t see the excitement of having pictures floating around of you as a dog. You silently wonder how anyone will be able to find their relatives pictures in the future when everyone is dressed as an animal or filtered beyond recognition.
You were born in a particularly unique time. During your childhood, things like phone and cookbooks were still a thing. You owned only one computer that was stationed in the family room, and cell phones were nonexistent. While you may still use traditional ways of finding information and completing certain tasks, you still have the understanding and appreciation of the digital era. Unlike Generation X, Xennials were young enough when the digital age hit they had the time and power to become a bit more technologically savvy. Xennials are uniquely gifted in this life as they are old enough to still know how to complete tasks without technology, and yet young enough to know how to use whichever method they prefer.
While there are definitely rules in your house, they are entirely less than the rules of most parents today. Your rules are less but they are absolute, non-negotiable and set in stone (and your kids know that). You understand the importance of rules, and yet you also know that it is important to let your kids figure some things out on their own without you interfering every step of the way. Your kids are allowed to get messy, play with a variety of toys (including toy guns -gasp!-), use scissors independently, and have lots of unstructured play times. You love being a parent, but you have other things to do to, and you don’t spend your time enforcing rules that have little value.
Not all the time. But, you know that realistically your kids need time for themselves. Time to use and grow their imaginations. Time to let loose and be free. (Time to let you enjoy a glass of wine…). Xennials do not spend every waking minute dangling the newest and greatest invention in front of their child’s face. You spend time with your kids and you plan activities, but you don’t do it every day. Your children are drastically less over scheduled compared to their peers. As a result, you have children who do not need to be entertained every waking moment of the day. Which is a very very good thing.
Image: Instagram / @lisa_frank
Lisa Frank was everything your heart desired and was the epitome of cool during your childhood and preteen years. Growing up her creations were everywhere. From the brightly colored stickers that were splattered over most of your belongings, the beautiful dazzling notebooks, pencils, folders, and other school supplies, and even travel items. Wherever you went or looked her bright and happy designs reigned supreme. Your school year just wasn’t quite complete until you had your brilliant Lisa Frank trapper keeper in all its glory. Complete with pencils and a pencil case to match. While you can still find a few of her items, most of her creations have dwindled from store shelves and you long for the days that her bright creations lit up your life.
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Nothing could make your heart skip a beat more than receiving a mixtape. Whether from your best friend or the boy of your dreams, a mixtape was the absolute truest definition of love. You also created just as many as you received and enjoyed doing it. While you traded in your Walkman for a Discman, and even eventually an MP3 player and then the iPod, you never forgot where you started. As a Xennial you often long for the days when your greatest challenge in life was being able to stop the recording on your tape before the DJ started talking.
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You couldn’t just like the Spice Girls, in order to be a real fan you had to choose which one you were and then commit to being exactly like them for the next several years. Bad news if you picked Baby Spice as that meant pigtails and baby talk for your foreseeable future. There is a video floating around somewhere of you and all your friends dressed up and performing a Spice Girls song. (Thank goodness VCR players are widely unavailable these days). Your signature scent during this time was Impulse Spice girls, which was described as being feminine, fun, and unpredictable. You also just had to have the Spice Girl dolls, even tho they didn’t debut until your teenage years.
While you are watching your child watch another child create yet another batch of slime, you can’t help but want to shout the fact that YOUR generation invented slime. While it is certainly a new fad, it is not a new invention. You remember the iconic slime from Nickelodeon as it debuted on the comedy “You Can’t Do That On Television” which ran from 1979-1990. After its debut, the slime was featured all throughout Nickelodeon’s network. The slime went through several recipes including green jello, cream of wheat, vanilla pudding and more, and was definitely icky, gross and exciting. While you didn’t spend your days terrorizing your parents with your own batches, slime was very much a part of your youth, and you feel you should get more credit.
While chances are you own (and are addicted to) a cell phone now, you did grow up without one. In fact, you not only remember rotary phones, but your parents or at least grandparents owned one. You also know how they work. Which is, again, a characteristic unique to Xennials. Chances are most people of the current generation have absolutely no idea what a rotary phone even is, let alone how to use it. You remember when payphones were abundant and you had to dig for change just to make a phone call if you were out of the house. Which is an experience your child will never go through. While you can’t imagine your life without your cell phone, you do on occasion long for the simpler time and mourn the days of prank phone calls.
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Though Millennials and Centennials may believe they have the claim on selfies you certainly know better. Your generation remembers the selfie in all its glory as you held up your disposable Kodak or Fujifilm camera and squished your cheeks together with your friends. You snapped the photo, held your breath and just prayed you got a good shot. You didn’t spend the time taking five more shots until you got the perfect one, adding filters, or adjusting the lighting- you just waited until the film was developed and hoped for the best. When the film came in you laughed until the tears were streaming down your faces, but as awful as the photos were, you loved them and everything they represented.
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It may not be your best memory, but it is definitely something that separates you from the younger generations. You remember a time when smoking indoors (pretty much everywhere) was legal and cigarette vending machines were just as abundant (if not more so) than pop machines. It wasn’t until the 90s when they began to become more sparse, as people worried about them being left unattended around children. Which is another separation from the newer generations as they would not allow their children to be unattended long enough for this to even be an issue. While you remember the machines and a time before smoking indoors was illegal, this is one memory from your past you are not nostalgic for.
In fact, before the name Xennials was coined. This micro-generation was dubbed the “Oregon Trail Generation”. This name was born from the popular computer game of those years called “The Oregan Trail”. If you had computer time during school hours. This game is what was playing on your screen. Being able to distinctly remember a room full of computer screens flashing with this game in your school's computer lab is no doubt an undeniable marker of being a Xennial. The game was designed to teach you about the realities of the 19th-century pioneer life, but you just liked the action and adventure.
This applies to every area of your life. Born between the pessimistic outlook of Generation X, and the somewhat ridiculous optimism of Millennials, you find yourself somewhere in between. Xennial parents are what you would describe as cautiously optimistic. You do not automatically believe everything is absolutely perfect and that nothing bad will ever happen, but you remain faithful that everything will work out in the end. You apply this full force in your parenting life which makes you an excellent mother. You understand that it won’t be rainbows and roses as you raise your children, but you are able to look to the future and believe things will eventually turn out all right.