Marketing to Moms: Observations from an Aging Gen X Mom of Tween Boys

People are coming to Chicago from near and far this week for the Marketing to Moms Conference. I've noticed tidbits and factoids about Mom and her critical life stages come through the tweetstream of this event. This year, I thought I'd share a few observations of my own.

Life gets hairy in mid-life. Literally and figuratively.

Mothering young children is tiring and physically exhausting, but parenting teens and tweens is busy and draining in an entirely different way. Granted, it's easier to find time for work and self-care like exercise, retail therapy or whatnot when the kids are at school, but the "second shift" from after school until bedtime is a crush of activities, snacks, carpools, homework, chores, and more carpools. The greater the number of kids in the house, the larger the challenge of a true sit-down family dinner each night...or at all.

In the late elementary school years, the homework kicks up a notch, which, let's be honest, means a lot of battles on the home front. One psychologist I know believes homework is the single largest cause of family violence, as defined by shouting, screaming, tantrums, not physical abuse.

And speaking of psychologists, OMG, do you remember how you acted as a teen? Adolescence is no treat the second time around, either.

As academic pressures and involvement in school sports and other activities increases, a family's vacation schedule truly becomes a hostage to the school schedule. So much for squeezing an extra day out of a long weekend.

Today's tweens are increasingly connected.

Many have cell phones (and Facebook pages!?) by the time they are 10 years old. As parents add another cell phone or two to the family plan, some are wise enough to pay for an unlimited text plan before they get that first outrageous texting bill.

If the kids don't have their own computer, they will soon. Parents get fed up sharing their computer as the children increasingly need it for school or want it for social activities. And as with phones, hopefully the parent brings another computer into the family before the tweens have introduced malware and the latest virus to the computer their parents use for personal banking activities and online shopping.

But this stage of life isn't all about the kids.

It's about marriages. Broken marriages, that is. Affairs, separations and divorces, not necessarily in that order.

And it's not about dad setting out to find a trophy wife. Increasingly, mom is calling it quits for her own reasons.

When it comes to health, well, a wise older women (WOW) friend warned me about what to expect in my 40s. Every time I turn around, someone I know is being diagnosed with {whispers} cancer. Case in point, know not one, but two(!) women in their 40s whose husbands are having brain tumors removed next month.

And then there's the friend with thyroid cancer, the gal pal who had breast cancer last year and another one currently undergoing chemo, the dad who was recently treated for a tumor.... and that's not even counting my online friends and their health issues.

And as long as things are getting glum, the other thing my WOW friend warned me is that death becomes a fact of life in middle age.

Fortunately, my friends are doing okay, but they are losing their grandparents and parents. Some of them are sandwiched in between caring for elderly relatives and younger ones who need to be driven everywhere and by the way are supposed to bring a new box of 100 sharpened pencils to school this morning.

Oh, and I probably should have mentioned this before death, but wrinkles? Gah! An unstoppable and depressing phenomenon. Women who joke about the affect of gravity on their bodies before age 40 have no idea what they are in for.

{smacks well-lined forehead}

I've made this 40-something gig sound worse than it is. By this point in life, we've learned to adapt, we've learned that change also means growth and we know we can make it through whatever life hands us. (Which is to say, it's a shame that wrinkles and gray hair cannot be acknowledged as badges of pride and survival that they are.)

We 40-somethings are watching our children grow and (in theory) mature; we might also be watching our careers flourish or getting ready to finally return to work in earnest. We might be able to jog farther or lift more weights than we ever thought possible than at any other time in our life. We might even be having better sex.

We are on our way to becoming wise older women.
My career is no longer in the toilet!

There are many opportunities for brands to help us along on our sometimes rocky journey to WOW. Want to know more? Drop me a note at kim(at)momimpact(dot)com.
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