Are you a 20th Century or a 21st Century Person?

May 27, 2022 | Work Life Balance

It’s coming to the end of another year, and that is a time for reflection on many things.

The more I do this work, Parent Boss Life, and the more I speak to people, the more I realise that I think differently to other people.

And the simplest way to sum this up, I think, is to explain that I view many people and their actions through the lens of; “Are you a 20th-century person, or are you a 21st-century person?”

What do I mean by that, you ask?

Well, a 20th-century person to me is a person who likes the way things were;

  • Certain gender roles in the home.
  • Certain hierarchy in the workplace.
  • Certain traditions you have to do on holidays like Christmas every year.
  • Traditional sports that your kids ‘should’ be growing up and playing.
  • Certain places that you go ON holidays, etc.
  • Certain things that came from when they grew up have become a part of their daily lives and how their family operates.

When I class a 21st-century person, I see people who have deviated from this to another way to do things and are forging their path.

I mean things like;

  • Childcare/breadwinner roles being flipped or shared in households.
  • Outsourcing of day to day household tasks that no one has time to do or, more importantly, wants to spend their downtime doing.
  • Parents want to have more control over their work schedule to be more hands-on at home and be more present in their kids’ activities.
  • More collaborative, open ways to lead a business, where bosses share knowledge with everyone, mental health and time away from the job are just as important as work time to ensure that we are taking care of the whole human being works for us.
  • Taking some time off school now and then to have an adventure, as we know that kids learn by doing, seeing and experiencing just as much, if not more, than studying it in a book.
  • Not spending time on special holidays with family members who are toxic to you and your family and cause drama. Instead, spending time with loved ones (family or not) instead of ‘having’ to spend time with someone because they are family.
  • Encouraging kids to do what they want to do, not play the sport you played or join the club you did because you envisioned ‘going to footy’ together when they were little. Spend that time together doing whatever is their ‘thing’ and learning about the little people you created.

We are 21, almost 22 years into the 21st century. More than 1/5 of the new century is gone. And yet, there are many out there who are happy living life the way their parents raised them, raising their own families the same way.

And if that works for you and you live your best life, then have at it. We get one go at this, and if you are living your life the best way you can, you are living a great life.

Suppose, though; you are finding that living the 20th century way is not working for you in the 21st century. It makes you stressed, tired and wondering if there is a better way to ‘make it all work.’ In that case, it may be worth you opening your mind for a bit to see if adopting a different way to do things, either just one item or a WHOLE new lifestyle, can work better for you.

Here are another few ways that I think different about things at home:

We all need to eat, and I have to be the one to do the grocery shopping.

No, you don’t.

Time is precious, and going to walk in a grocery store to get our food is not a good return on time spent, in my opinion. We need food – we don’t have to be the ones to get it. We use home grocery delivery and save at least 1 hour per week without pushing a trolley up and down an aisle anymore.

I can’t sit down and chill when there’s so much to do.

Yes, you can.

Why does everyone else in your family get the chance to chill and relax, and you don’t?

It’s not up to you to do every chore in the whole household. There is a number of you living in the house. If your kids aren’t the ages where they can do their bit, then, EVEN MORE, you DESERVE someone to help you. You do not have to be an exhausted, frazzled parent for 20 years to show that you love your family. That old-fashioned idea where parents (particularly mothers) have to kill themselves for their family to ‘prove’ they love them can very, very firmly stay in the 20th century! It for sure doesn’t belong in the 21st century!

When I am exhausted, I am crabby, have no patience, am snappy, and unpleasant. I am no fun to be around! If everyone else chills on a Sunday afternoon, so do I. Put your feet up. Relax, have a read, a snooze or watch a movie. Go for a walk. What is your thing? 21st-century parents know that their health is essential for everyone (their kids and spouses need them to be healthy), including mental health.

I don’t have to teach all my kids the same chores.

Yes, you do.

In a 21st century household, all household members contribute to its smooth daily running. Chores are shared. Meal prep is shared. Each person in the family can take care of themselves, and they all pitch in to make light of everything that needs doing.

Of course, kidlets need to learn all this, but gender has no role in these roles. Everyone needs to know how to cook, clean, do laundry, care for animals, do shopping, ironing etc. They will learn it all because it doesn’t matter if they go out into the world a boy, a girl, or a non-binary person, certain things have to be done in life to allow us to live, and each of our kids will know them. They will be functioning members of society; they’ll look after themselves, be self-sufficient, and look for that same ability in their life partners so that ‘life’ is shared. I always say I never want to look in the eyes of my daughter-in-law or son-in-law and apologise that I haven’t taught my children something that is then making it difficult to live with them further down the track. That’s not fair.

Those days where someone carries another are over. Relationships, marriages and households in the 21st century are more about collaborative teams, where everyone pitches in and does their share, sharing the burden, instead of letting one person stagger along with the heavy load while others around them pretend not to see.

Here are another few ways that I think different about things in business:

If I want things done right, I have to do them myself.

No, you don’t. 

This thinking ties you to your business and stops you from having the freedom of time that a business is supposed to give you. If you HAVE to do everything in your business, you really only have a job you own. By having staff help you with the day to day things, you can focus on spending your time doing things that grow your business and having more free time to spend with your loved ones. Making money while being with your family is why you have a business in the first place and should be the goal for setting up your business day-to-day.

The customer is always right. 

Yes, to a point. Customers are the lifeblood of a business, and we need to give them the best possible experience we can when they shop with us. Unfortunately, things go wrong sometimes. It is then up to us to fix it as best we can and keep the customer happy. Alas, sometimes the customer is not pleased. And it can get to a point where they become abusive and threatening. As soon as you start belittling or yelling at our team, you are no longer right, and the staff member doesn’t have to help you anymore. Calm down, speak respectfully to our team, and we will gladly help you resolve the issue if we can. Continue to yell and be disrespectful; then you have to leave. In the 21st century, as bosses, we have a duty to our team’s mental health and safety to make sure that they are not being abused in the workplace and customers who think staff should take anything they want to dish out belong back in the 20th century.

You can’t fire customers.

Yes, you can. If customers are doing any of the above, or you have tried to talk to them about something, like ordering ahead of time to get a discount, then if they don’t do what you need them to do, you can let them go. We had a wholesale client who wanted the deal but forgot to order ahead to get it. We let them go once because, you know, life, but they then expected it all the time. So we told them no. When they jumped up and down, I told them they needed a wholesale bakery, not a retail bakery like ours, and we will never discount for wholesale if we can sell it retail. Why would we? So the surprise on their face when I let them know that we weren’t the best option for them was funny, in hindsight.

But customers heard our conversation and said to me afterwards, “I’m so surprised that you said they should go elsewhere. Why would you turn them away?” And I said to the customer, “We are a retail bakery. Our main focus is to stock all our customers’ products like you need when you want them. IF we have some spare time, we consider wholesale customers, but only in a secondary case. In my experience, wholesale customers want something different from what you make, specifically for them; they want it at a particular time, which creates pressure on production. They want a discount for ordering through you. It’s extra work at a lower return, so that is why it isn’t our focus.”

And the customer goes, “Huh, I never thought of it like that. I just assumed all customers were the same.”

But, as business owners, we know they are not. So try to work with the difficult ones, but in the end, don’t be afraid also to let them go.

A 21st century Parent Boss looks at ALL the things required on the life side and the business side and sets their life up doing the tasks they like best and getting help with the things they don’t.

They have flexibility built into their timeline, so they can adapt and change as needed, and their stress levels are lower because they have this ability to move.

They understand that they can’t do everything themselves, and more importantly, they don’t want to. Why work and push themselves to death when, with a mental adjustment, they can set up a 21st century Parent Boss Life that works for them and their family?

And it can work for you too.