My baby will have a different childhood than I had. Being a mum makes me think about how much has changed since I was a child. I think it’s fair to say that before the Internet and all the latest technologies came along, things were a lot simpler and carefree. I have some great memories growing up, playing hide and seek with friends, spending weekends outdoors, only coming home for lunch. It’s hard not to think about some aspects of my early years that my one-year-old will never get to experience. Childhood is different now in so many ways.
Add to it the fact that I raise my family abroad and things get even more exciting for Little E. Yes, it will be different than my early years, but there is also a positive side to it. How exactly then will things change for my baby? Read on to find out.
Terrorism is everywhere
The first time I heard the word terrorism was when I was sixteen, and the twin towers in New York fell. The way things are at the moment, I’m pretty sure that my baby will hear this word a lot earlier in her life.
All the recent events in the UK and around the world make me wonder how one day when my baby is a bit older, I’ll try to explain everything that’s happening around. Even if I wanted to shelter her from all the news and negativity we see on a daily basis, it’s inevitable that she will encounter all that in school. For this reason, I think it’s better if we have this conversation at home first.
More technology – waaay more technology
I remember when my parents bought a very first computer for us, that was some exciting times, let me tell you that. I was definitely in my early teens back then. Obviously, there were no tablets, mobile phones, and certainly no touchscreen technology when I was growing up. Seriously, when has everything changed so rapidly?
We used to have a Walkman, VHS player (remember these?), a basic stereo system to play cassettes and CDs later. CDs were a luxury when they first hit our households. These days, kids can use a smartphone, before they can even talk.
Here’s the positive side. There was no way my parents could check on us when we were playing outside, other than shouting our names from the balcony of our flat. Why would they? The threat of being abducted by a stranger wasn’t on our minds back then. Mobile phones nowadays provide some reassurance in knowing that you can easily call your children to find out where they are. There are even apps these days that allow you to check the exact location of your kids. Anyone thinks of stalking here? Knowing myself, I think I will be only too glad for apps like these further down the line.
Daily photo and video sessions
When I was growing up, taking pictures was for special occasions only. I look back, and it makes me smile when I think how excited we were every time we waited for some photos to be developed. You only had one opportunity to capture a special moment, no deleting, editing, altering. Videos from my childhood? I don’t think I have any. A video camera at that time was only for the privileged few.
In her short one year of life, Little E has more photos and videos taken of her than Mr A and I have from our entire lives collectively.
Listening to music/watching TV is rather different
Whenever you wanted to hear your favourite song, you had to wait God knows how long for that particular track on the radio. It was a real treat to buy CDs of our favourite singers and pop groups. Recording favourite songs on audio cassettes was a way to make our own music compilations, before burning music onto CDs became widely available. Play, stop, pause, fast-forward, rewind. How many times have you gone through all these to hear that special tune?
Nowadays? Youtube, iTunes and digital technology, in general, have taken over the whole music industry. Everything is right there at your fingertips. I think that my generation appreciated music a bit more due to it not being so widely available.
Back in my days we only had a couple of channels on TV before we got the satellite dish. There was no catch-up or TV on demand available, that enable you to watch programs at your leisure these days. If you missed an episode of your favourite program, well, bad luck. Even more so, when you consider you had to wait a whole week for that one episode.
Life without social media is unimaginable now
No one heard the term social media when I was growing up. It was non-existent. No Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or any of the other endless social media platforms.
Socializing meant going out and meeting people face to face. Mobile phones had only just started to emerge when I was a teenager, life before was pretty simple. You want to talk to people, meet them, you pick up a land line phone and dial your friend’s number.
There were no selfies, and you didn’t have to look perfect when you took photos. After all, your photos were for private viewing, not for sharing with the rest of the world.
Growing up in a multicultural family
One family, three different passports. This was unheard of when I was a child. Traveling at that time was very limited, and so we weren’t exposed to diverse cultures and ethnicities a lot. Little E’s childhood will be surrounded by multicultural diversity, starting with her very own family (Slovak mum, Albanian dad and her being British).
When I was growing up, I spoke one language until I began school and started to learn English and German. Little E is learning three different languages right from the outset. Teaching her our native languages is of paramount importance to us. She’ll also grow up listening to her parents’ endless conversations in English when they actually can’t understand what the other one is saying.
Little E will be growing up learning about traditions in three different countries; her life will be filled with various influences and cultures, which I think is great to broaden her horizons. Hopefully, she will become more tolerant and open-minded as a result.
Visiting family equals travel abroad
Most of my large extended family live very near to my hometown, so we saw each other quite often when I was growing up. We had regular barbeques in summer months, visits over the weekend and during holidays.
To visit our immediate family now, we need to travel abroad. There won’t be any unexpected family visits here, that’s for sure. Any contact with grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles won’t be as regular as mine was when I was a child.
Traveling will be a common part of Little E’s childhood. My only trip abroad until I was about fifteen was when we went on holiday to Hungary one summer. Oh, I almost forgot. We used to make shopping trips (mainly for clothes) to Polish outdoor markets few times a year, as it was cheaper over there. So yes, we too had regular trips abroad.
Going to school earlier
The education system in the UK is also different than the one we have in my country. Little E will start her school at the age of four or five, not six like in Slovakia. Is it too early to start a formal education? Will she be mature enough at this young age? I’m not so sure.
There is a research evidence highlighting the importance of play in young child’s development and supporting a later start of formal education. It is especially worrying when I read that other European countries, (where children go to school at the age of six or seven) have a higher level of academic achievement and child well-being.
There is no doubt that Little E will experience a totally different childhood than the one I experienced. Is she going to miss out on anything? To me, it feels that way sometimes, but the good thing is, my baby won’t know any different.
Our job as her parents is to make sure that we will provide her with the best possible childhood so that she can have the same fond memories as I have of my childhood.
What are your thoughts about this? Do you think children of this generation are missing out on the carefree childhood we used to experience before all the technology emerged?