Millennial parents and their kids are facing a summer with traditional pastimes and childcare options in question—these are some of the creative ways that brands are helping…
Quarantines have already stressed out and burnt out Millennial parents, many of whom are juggling full time work with new homeschooling regimens, with varying levels of success. Half of employed Millennial parents are working from home, and the majority of kids are attending school remotely, creating a unique and new burden for these families. A Motherly survey found that 74% of 24-39-year-old moms in the U.S. feel like their mental health has worsened since the pandemic began, and 30% of full-time working moms say their primary cause of stress is childcare. YPulse’s data shows that Millennial parents have been more likely than non to say that they are anxious because of COVID.
And now, summer is coming. While balancing at-home work and schooling was hard, Millennial parents now face a stretch of months where childcare is in question, traditional pastimes might not happen, and kids no longer have classwork to occupy them. In short, they are likely panicking. The Wall Street Journal reports that many summer camps and recreational programs are still deciding on how to safely open if at all, and some uncomfortable parents are already making the call to keep kids at home during the ongoing crisis and looking for camp refunds. Some stressed out families working from home are turning to their own parents to share the load, with grandparents serving as online tutors and playmates. But keeping grandparents safe is of course a concern—and not everyone has access to a healthy grandma or grandpa that can take care of the kids.
In YPulse’s most recent survey on young consumers’ summer plans, 79% of Millennial parents told us they need new ways to entertain their kids this summer because of COVID-19. There is a clear opportunity for brands to provide this entertainment. During quarantines, many media and toy brands rushed to set up “online playgrounds” for families to digitally escape lock-downs. But with more time with kids to fill, parents are tapping even more creative solutions and brands are stepping up with new ways to help families cope and thrive. Here are some of the activities, content, and resources that could help Millennial families get through the summer months:
Zoom Princesses & Puppies
Zoom has quickly become a regular part of social distance socializing for the young and old, moving beyond work conferencing into a now-staple of spending time together while apart. But there’s another use for the platform (and those like it) that parents are beginning to discover: it’s home to a growing number of brands and organizations to virtually entertain and help kids over video chat. Zoom (and FaceTime and Skype) babysitters have become a thing, with sitters dialing in to read, chat with, and occupy kids when parents are too busy (say if both mom and dad have a conference call at the same time). But beyond quick bursts of virtual childcare, companies are getting creative to bring their previously in-person entertianments to video platforms. Case in point: Virtual princess parties. With kids being forced to celebrate birthday parties at home, parents are scrambling to find ways to keep them entertained and still make those moments memorable. Refinery29 reports that party businesses like Princess & Me Parties, EverAfter, and FairyTaled have recently emerged as “a lifeline” for parents and children during quarantine. Prior to the pandemic, some of these companies usually served parties by bringing in “princesses” to sing and dance, do face painting, and physically interact with children. But when stay-at-home orders resulted in a slew of cancellations, the brands pivoted to digital and began hosting virtual parties on platforms like Zoom. Princesses video chat with kids—in groups or for solo “playdates”—where they lead them in dancing, activities, and even do magic. These engagements provide much-needed time off for parents, but as Princess & Me Parties founder Ali Williams tells Refinery29, many kids need the interaction as well: “It’s clear that many of these kids want time for conversation. A lot of them want a connection with someone who’s not their parent. A favorite character can make them feel safe, and help them cope.” They’re not the only groups getting creative with kids’ content on Zoom: The Washington Post reports that nonprofit group People. Animals. Love. is scheduling virtual sessions with hundreds of kids a month to practice reading to therapy dogs, who won’t judge their mistakes and give them an emotional boost. Brands should take note: what interactive, distracting, and happiness-dosing activity could you be bringing to families over video chats?
As observed above, this is a stressful time for kids as well as parents. Separated from friends, struggling with at-home schooling, and navigating difficult home situations children are just as impacted by the anxiety of this time as adults. Enter: Mindful kids’ content. Kidscreen reports that meditation content for kids is growing during the pandemic. According to Statista, the growing U.S. meditation market is projected to reach more than $2 billion by 2022. During COVID, brands have stepped up to support Gen Z and Millennials’ mental health, and many kids’ media companies, like Sesame Workshop, BBC, and Capacitor, have started developing mindfulness content aimed at even younger consumers. BBC launched Your Mindful Garden, its “first-ever meditation-focused app for kids” that features tips, games, and animated videos to help kids destress. Meanwhile, Capacitor has partnered with YouTube channel Cosmic Kids for an in-development series. Perhaps most notably, Disney+ (which 39% of Millennial parents tell YPulse they watch weekly or more) very recently released their own meditation-adjacent content: Zenimation. The new series is a collection of shorts that loops animation from popular films like Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, Moana and Frozen 2 with soothing sound effects. With video categories like “Water,” “Nature,” “Cityscapes,” the content is meant to relax and soothe during a tough time. Each episode starts with a message to “Refresh your senses with a moment of mindfulness”—but for parents, the music-free, calming content also provides a much-needed break from the usual hectic TV, movie, and YouTube offerings. With major players like Disney joining in, meditation and mindfulness content for is clearly arising entertainment trend to watch—and one that might help families get through the stressful months ahead.
Inspired Outdoor Fun
With weather heating up and everyone getting stir crazy, it should come as no surprise that parents are looking for ways to have their kids play safely outside at home. MarketWatch reports that kiddie pool sales are surging right now (for obvious reasons). With public pools closed and summer just around the corner, quarantined families and young consumers are turning to the next best thing. According to Amazon, sales of pools and pool-related products doubled in April, while Target saw “record-breaking” sales for their Minnidip “designer” adult-sized inflatable pools last month. (And they’re not just for children—grown-up Millennials are also buying them to cool down in with “a hard seltzer or glass of rosé.”) Outdoor toy sales are also surging, as after months of increased screen time, parents shell out to keep them active out of the house. Brands could absolutely step in and provide more ideas about outdoor fun. IKEA Russia recently released blanket fort instructions for six architectural variations with no special products required. All families need are household items that are “already classic staples of blanket fort history” to help entertain them while staying inside—more brands could certainly jump into this space, with an outdoor twist. Outdoor toy (and pool) giveaway promotions, or DIY ideas on how to camp in the yard, or providing instructions for outdoor activities that kids could do themselves could be in high demand among Millennial parents who want to keep their kids engaged and summer fun alive.