Inside the Minds of Millennial Parents, Including Karolína Kurková

·11 min read

“I want them to have a sense that self care is self love,” 37-year-old model Karolína Kurková said of her three children, LunaGrace, Noah and Tobin. “That’s important.”

During the coronavirus pandemic, while home in Miami, she and husband Archie Drury made sure to include their kids while practicing their everyday wellness routine.

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“We were spending 24/7 together,” she continued. “We would make fresh juices. That’s something my little one, my five-year-old Noah, would really love to do. That was his thing. He would be the juice man.”

And her older son, Tobin, who’s turning 12 this year, was “the smoothie man,” she added with a laugh. “We put protein powder — obviously he likes more sweeter things, but then I will tell him, ‘OK, let’s maybe add a little bit of maca or let’s add chia seeds or flax seeds or let’s add a little MCT oil.’”

Kurková (she’s a 1984 baby) is one of countless Millennial moms — the generation born between 1981 and 1996 — embracing wellness and incorporating it into parenting.

Millennials (roughly 71.2 million Americans, making up nearly 22 percent of the U.S. population, via the 2019 U.S. Census Current Population Survey) are “the most potent driving force behind the wellness trend,” a trillion-dollar industry, according to nonprofit the Global Wellness Institute. Poised to be the nation’s biggest spenders, Millennials have surpassed Baby Boomers as the largest adult demographic in the country.

“Millennials really value self care, and they know that it’s important,” said generational expert Dr. Katherine Jeffery, whose doctoral research focused on the Millennial generation. “And so, when it comes to parenting, they want to balance that.”

It’s different from the approach of past generations, added Jeffery.

Baby Boomers — born between 1946 and 1964 — grew up as one of three or four siblings generally, with parents who weren’t always able to be there for them emotionally or make it to significant life events, for example, she explained. In turn, they were hyper aware of the way they brought up their own kids, often considering their opinions when making major family decisions.

“For example, when a Boomer was growing up, if their dad came home and said, ‘We’re going to move to Atlanta, I just got a new job,’ they would say, ‘Pack your stuff. Get in the car,’” Jeffery said. “Now for a Millennial, if their parent, say their mom, got a new job in Atlanta, and mom came home to the Millennial kids and said, ‘I’ve got this new job. Do we want to move to Atlanta? Would that mess up your college career, your sports career? If the kids said, ‘No, we don’t want to move to Atlanta’ then there’s a good chance the family didn’t move. Millennials are used to their feelings and their opinions not only being heard, but they also bear weight on the decisions that are made. It impacts how the family moves forward, and that’s incredibly different than the world the Boomers grew up in.”

Millennials are the first generation to call their parents their friends, she added. “And they’re getting married much later in life than generations before them. So, they’ve had a lot more time to themselves, and they’ve had time to really pursue the things that they love and to spend their time as they want to. Then, when they become parents, it’s like, ‘Oh my goodness, there’s someone that really needs me, and I can’t do everything the way I used to do it.’ And so, reaching out — obviously social media is a huge thing — they’re reaching out to their peers to learn from one another. They’re very integrated. They really look to others for help. They’re the collaboration generation.”

It was on Instagram that 31-year-old Los Angeles-based model and creative Miles Garber, cofounder of Dbfiftythree studio, started “Open Up Dad” — a community of mostly dads conversing honestly about being a parent. He began hosting Instagram Lives, before turning the endeavor into a podcast.

“I wasn’t raised with a dad, and it was something that definitely colored my life,” said Garber, who shares a 10-month-old daughter, Maxime, with his 26-year-old wife, model and actress Juliette Labelle.

“As Juliette was pregnant, I started realizing that a lot of the anger and resentment about not having a dad was starting to kind of dissipate,” he continued. “It was really just becoming about my baby and wanting to be a dad and wanting to be a good husband.”

He turned to the internet “just to look up stuff,” he said. “Juliette is part of this mom group, and they all text and share things. People give each other free cribs that they’re not using, and it’s just so interconnected. They’re so supportive of each other, and I was, like, ‘Wow, all the dads, we don’t do any of that.'”

“It’s an Instagram group chat with a couple of other fellow moms,” Labelle said. “Our babies are all similar in age, and one of my girlfriends wasn’t able to produce milk, and so the mom group started because she needed milk and was asking us if we could pump some milk.”

Inspired, Garber reached out to his friend Samuel Turrell, founder of wellness community “Open Up Healing,” about starting “a dad group.”

“It’s become just so much more,” Garber said. “It’s not really even about just being a dad now. I interview a lot of dads, but I also interview a lot of moms, midwives, founders of fertility companies. It’s become this whole thing….I’ve learned about birth and pregnancy and children and infertility and childhood development. There’s so much psychology and mental health that’s gone into the conversations. It’s been a really eye-opening experience.”

Karolína Kurková and son Noah
Karolína Kurková and son Noah

While preparing for a home birth, Labelle said she took an online hypnobirthing class.

“And I opened a couple of books and started reading them but felt like so much of what I was reading was what my intuition was telling me to do, and so I kind of put them down and decided to trust my intuition and the community around me,” she said.

Rose Christ, 32, who was also pregnant during COVID-19, shared similar sentiments.

“It was awful and amazing at the same time,” she said of the experience. “You have to find your friends who have babies, compare notes with them and trust in your instincts and partner and just ride it out.”

She and wife Heather Hansmann, 42, used a sperm donor — their friend Landon McGregor Miller — to conceive.

“We’ve known each other for more than 10 years, and we met through a mutual friend of ours,” said Christ, a lawyer. “When Heather and I started talking about starting our family, Landon had heard us talk about it, because we had been pretty open with our friends about our planning and desire of having a baby. Landon really generously suggested to us that he would love to help us have a family. It was really built upon years of friendship leading up to that point.”

It was during a wedding in 2018 that Miller approached Christ about it.

“Rose and Heather had been working with someone else that they thought was going to be their donor for a while and that had just not panned out, and we were talking about it in person at the wedding….It was a weekend of love, and it was, like, ‘Why have we not talked about this before?’” Miller said.

“It was one of those really beautiful moments, and as soon as he said it, it felt exactly right,” said Christ, who got pregnant in January 2020 after a year of trying and a year of paperwork and logistics. The three made it all happen remotely, while the couple were living in New York and Miller in California.

“We are so lucky and our baby, Walter, is so lucky that he has just another wonderful person in his life and in his corner cheering him on and supporting him,” she added. “That is one of the most beautiful things I think about having Landon be involved in this process as opposed to an anonymous donor where that relationship would never exist.”

Millennials have more options in life when it comes to “how they have a family and what family looks like,” Jeffery said.

“And they feel like there’s not the same kind of pressures to do it all and do it all now,” she added. “They’re freezing their eggs because they’re single, and they’re focusing on their careers, and so then, one day when they’re ready, they can still have a kid whether they find the person they want to be with or not.”

Kurková, who grew up in the Czech Republic, aims to incorporate the types of natural, whole foods that permeated her childhood. Her parents made meals from scratch, she said: “And my grandparents had a country house, and they grew fruits and vegetables, [had] chickens, eggs. When you were sick, my grandma would make some sort of thing, a specialty from a flower or plant that she grew. There was always these natural remedies.”

The experience influenced her own approach to cooking, often making meals at home using fresh ingredients (and inspired her to start her wellness company Gryph & IvyRose, offering a line of probiotics, as well as bath and body products for kids, among other goods). But it’s about “harmony,” she emphasized. She allows her kids to indulge in “less healthy” drinks and snacks from time to time so that they don’t feel deprived or like “outsiders,” she said.

“We can tell them, ‘Well, don’t do this. This is not good for you. Don’t eat that or do that’ — but they have to learn for themselves, too,” Kurková said. “And they really learn by observing constantly. They pay attention. So, it’s not what you preach. It’s what you do.”

Wellness is about “what you eat,” she added. “But it’s also what you put on your skin and what you think, your mental state.”

While stuck at home during quarantine, music was often playing in their household. “Movement” is key, she said, and dancing has been a release.

“Maybe in the morning we play more upbeat, more happy music,” she shared. “Or even in the evening, if I feel like, ‘OK, let’s dance. Let’s shake it off, get loose.’ Or it’s more meditative music or relaxing sounds or gongs or classical music. It really depends on what’s going on in the house and what kind of energy I want to bring in.”

And when it’s time to relax, they turn to their BioMat, a therapeutic device used to reduce pain and inflammation.

“It’s filled with amethyst, and you plug it, and it heats up,” explained Kurková. “It charges your body with negative ions and infrared rays, really goes deep, detoxes you, relaxes you, your muscles and body. I put my kids on it, and they love it, because it gets warm, and it’s cozy. We put it on the sofa sometimes, [during] nap time.”

Kurková used it while she was pregnant with LunaGrace, who was born in May this year. Like her two other kids, it was a home water birth.

“It’s been really, really hard,” she said of her pregnancy and taking care of a newborn without the help of her immediate family, due to the health crisis. It was a particularly challenging time when Kurková — while pregnant — as well as her husband and kids were diagnosed with COVID-19 all at once.

“Having a baby and being pregnant, you want that family support the most,” she said. “It’s the most important time. I’ve been so positive, but it’s been hard.”

Following a wellness routine has helped them get through the tough times, stay strong both physically and mentally, while bonding as a family.

“Incorporating my kids into everything I do and exposing them to things, it’s really about connection,” she said. “When you do all these things, it’s spending time [together]. We’re taking care of each other together. Connection is happiness, right? When you feel connected, you feel love, you feel confident.”

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