I remember being a child and hearing my parents talk about how fast time was moving. Now I’m the parent and I know what they were talking about. But not only is time moving more quickly for us as adults, today things around us are actually changing more quickly.
Here are five trends (and a bonus trend) that I see emerging now and my predictions for the trends that will continue in 2011:
1) Electronic Connections — Parent communities are bigger than ever, but less local. Families are busier than ever, but finding new ways to connect.
- Video chatting, such as Skype, is becoming the norm for extended families to stay in touch. Look for this to accelerate as it goes mobile on smartphones and tablets.
- Online photo and video sharing through social networking will continue to grow. Again, watch for more mobile, as smartphones replace more cameras and videocameras. Think Qik.
- For older kids playing online, turn based, games with parents will become as common as board games were for the last generation. Games like Words with Friends will take advantage of smart phone and tablet technologies to keep families connected.
- Look for JumpScan and other QR programs to facilitate connections (and even start replacing things like business cards, luggage tags, and identification for lost kids).
- Innovative companies like HealthTap and Quora will become popular ways to use electronic connections to get parents the answers they most want.
2) Real Food for Babies (and other humans) – The 1950s launched us into 60 years of processed foods. It may be slow at first, but 2011 will see some big changes.
- 2011 will be the year white rice baby cereal goes away.
New first foods will be real foods – such as bananas, avocado, and sweet potatoes.
- The family meal will make a resurgence. It won’t be the norm in 2011, but more meals will be eaten at home than in 2010.
- Healthy, quick food options will grow in availability. Look for convenience stores such as Fresh and Easy to do well in 2011.
3) Kicking Out Risky Chemicals (chemical awareness) — Parents are reading ingredient labels more than ever, not just on food. The President’s Cancer Panel presented in 2010 had a major impact, as well as the 2010 study linking ADHD to pesticides. The trend will grow in 2011.
- The green movement got it’s start in organic food, but an increasing number of parents will be looking for hidden toxics in cleaning supplies, gardening supplies, textiles, etc.
- Parents are choosing BPA-free, phthalate-free, PVC-free, plastics. BornFree has been a pioneer in safe plastics for kids even before most parents had heard of BPA. Now BornFree, Ecomom.com, Ikea, and others are becoming trusted leaders for parents who don’t have time to research for themselves, but want safe products.
4) Kitchen Kids — Thanks to Michelle Obama, Jamie Oliver, Chef Anne, Chef Jessie Cool and a host of others kids-food is getting renewed attention..
- In 2011 kids will get more and more involved in creating meals together before sitting down to eat.
- 2011 will see more families planting a garden. It may be as small as one tomato plant or one herb on a windowsill, but more kids will get the opportunity to see their food start from a seed.
5) The Natural Connections to the Outdoors — The last generation of parents became afraid to let their children play alone outdoors. This generation of parents is seeing the value of connecting their kids to nature.
- Look for more families in the park, more families playing outdoor sports, and a return to the family bike ride.
- Kids have too much homework. As a result, parents have downplayed the need to do family chores. Look for parents to join their kids for outdoor chores as a way to get sunshine (needed Vitamin D) and connect to the earth.
- Houseplants were big in the 70s and 80s. Don’t expect macramé to come back into style, but parents are becoming aware of the value of houseplants as inexpensive air filters. You’ll see more of them in 2011.
- Plastic toys are about as far from the outdoors as possible. Look for more quality, heirloom wooden toys to make it in the market place in 2011. Tegu is a great example of a young company creating an innovative toy in a sustainable way.
Bonus: Hot New Birthday Party for 2011 — Chef School
- Mom or Dad will accompany kids to the party and participate, making it more interactive than in the past.
- The Chef leading the class will be both teacher and entertainment (no clowns needed).
- Everyone participates in the preparation and at the end of the party they enjoy the food together — including homemade birthday cupcakes.
- If there’s not one in your area, call the local cooking school and ask them to create one for your child’s next birthday party!
All-in-all, I think 2011 is shaping up to be a pretty good year for famiies. What do you think?
Note: Dr. Greene is on the Board of Ecomom.com, the Medical Director of HealthTap, and works closely with BornFree to provide safe feeding products for children. He does not have a financial connection to any of the other brands mentioned.