Goodbye Stepford Mom, Hello Realistic Barbie? Author of "The Gallagher Guide Survey" Reveals The Top 5 Parenting Trends for 2005

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Meet the thoroughly modern, 21st century mom: She's smart enough to demand the best in mom-friendly baby gear, yet honest enough to admit that motherhood isn't all peaches and baby lotion. Those are just some of the conclusions Stephanie Gallagher reached after spending 6 months surveying 200 moms from around the world for her new book, "The Gallagher Guide to the Baby Years."

Meet the thoroughly modern, 21st century mom: She’s smart enough to demand the very best in mom-friendly baby gear, yet honest enough to admit that motherhood isn’t all peaches and baby lotion. Those are just some of the conclusions Stephanie Gallagher reached after spending six months surveying 200 moms from around the world for her new book, "The Gallagher Guide to the Baby Years: The Real Moms’ Survey of Top-Rated Products and Advice" (Simon and Schuster, http://www.gallagherguide.com).

Delving into every aspect of their lives, Gallagher questioned new mothers on everything from how they cope with morning sickness to what to do about meddling mothers-in-law. Below is a snapshot of the key trends affecting new mothers in the 21st century.

1) Truth in Mothering

Thanks to TV shows like Desperate Housewives and Wife Swap, for the first time on prime time television, Americans are witnessing the not-so-blissful side of being a mom. And they’re cheering.

"Women have long known that mothering isn't all cottony-soft skin-nuzzling and coos," Gallagher says. "Now the truth is finally out in the open." 2005 will bring those revelations to a new level, Gallagher predicts. “Serious issues like postpartum depression and the alienation of the new mom will be discussed more openly, even in childbirth classes and prenatal check-ups. Support groups for new moms will begin to pop up, especially in urban areas where distance often keeps new moms away from the support system they so desperately need,” Gallagher says.

2) I am Woman, Hear Me Demand More

Teddy bears that make womb sounds? Snuglis with cell phone holders? Pre-wrapped blankets that made swaddling a breeze? Welcome to the world of multi-functional baby products and services, where moms rule, and manufacturers are scrambling to meet their every need. Indeed, the market is more demanding than ever, and only the coolest, most customized and creative products will survive, according to Gallagher. For service businesses, it means great opportunity to reach a market that is open to anything and everything they can offer to make women’s lives easier.

“This is what accounts for the popularity of a service like Upromise, which gives members rebates for their kids’ college funds when they shop at well-known retailers,” Gallagher says. “Moms like the fact that they can be saving money for college while making every day purchases.”

3) Capturing the Moment

For generations, mothers have been obsessed with capturing heartwarming memories of their offspring on film. But today’s moms are kicking the process of preserving memories up a few notches. Thanks to huge advances in digital photography and the tremendous popularity of scrapbooking, today’s moms are obsessed with capturing memories of their kids’ first years in more creative and expensive ways than ever before.

“The watchword for 2005 will be easy,” says Gallagher. “Moms love the idea of dimensionalizing their memories through scrapbooks, and they adore the creativity and control offered by digital cameras, but these skills still require time to master. Huge opportunities exist for companies that can meet moms’ demand for high creativity and functionality in an uber-easy way.”

4) Ding, Dong the Stepford Mom is Dead

Long live the flawed, but lovable, new mom of the 21st century! “Nobody wants to be Martha Stewart anymore,” Gallagher says. “Real moms now recognize that the quest for perfection has a price. Your neighbors may envy your well-groomed lawn, tidy house and gourmet cuisine, but if you’re spending all of your time trying to make everything around you perfect, your family will resent you in the long run.”

Increasingly, women will recognize that “good enough” is just fine when it comes to running a household, according to Gallagher: “And they’ll define themselves by the nature of their connections to family and friends, rather than the height of their souffles or the width of their scrapbooks.” The connected mom is a happier mom, Gallagher says. And in 2005, we’ll see her emerge in books, movies and television, as well as at the local playground, park and preschool.

5) Do It All Mom, Shmoo It All Mom

In 1973, 31% of women returned to work within a year of giving birth. By 1998, that number jumped to 68%. And those women are finding it harder than ever to negotiate the second shift at home. As roles are shifting, so are women’s perceptions of fulfillment.

In 2005, we’ll begin to see women redefine their sense of success and happiness. “Working mothers have spent far too much time and energy focusing on how their work affects their kids,” Gallagher says. “What about how it’s impacting themselves?”

Even working mothers who love their jobs freely admit that a day doesn’t go by when they wish they could clone themselves. “This dilemma won’t be resolved in 2005 or even 2015,” says Gallagher. “But we’ll begin to see working women acknowledge for the first time that doing it all doesn’t replace our longing for being it all. And on an emotional level, the tenor of the discussion will move away from how it affects kids to how it affects moms,” Gallagher says.

"The Gallagher Guide to the Baby Years: The Real Moms’ Survey of Top-Rated Products and Advice" is available in bookstores and online. Moms can visit http://www.gallagherguide.com to sign up to contribute to the next edition.

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Stephanie Gallagher
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