The road to modernity has been paved with good intentions. But most days, for most of us, life kinda sucks, and we make up for it with grown-up toys (aka gadgets), legal drugs like caffeine and alcohol, and plenty of stupid television. How did we get it so wrong? The future (now) was supposed to be so great, with less work (now women do double-time with work and kids), more play, and better health for all. Instead we’ve got obese 2-year olds, a summer jam-packed with movies nobody wants to see, and nonexistent sex lives.
So without further ado, here are some ‘old-fashioned’ ideas we might want to bring back – in order to have more joie de vivre the and fewer “honey I’ve got a headache” nights.
Separate Beds: Not Just for Victorian Literary Heroines Anymore
After decades of cultural weirdness surrounding not sleeping with your spouse or partner (only horrific snoring seemed to be a way out), some couples are outing their separate sleeping arrangements. Since about 75% of Americans sleep restlessly (defined as waking frequently or snoring), that makes life hell for the rest of us; exhaustion does not lead to happy sex lives. For some, constant physical closeness is overkill, and having indy snooze zones can preserve the sweet mystery and intimacy of those times you are together, and give you space when you’re in a bad mood. Why not re-create the excitement of a “sleepover” in one’s own home?
Nurseries: Great for Kids, Even Better for Parents
Generations of kids grew up without helicoptering parents observing and interfering with their every move. For your sake and theirs, give your children their own room, starting with (yes, I’m going there) babies. They will cry, and then they will sleep, on their own. I’m not suggesting that a nightmaring kid be kicked out of the reassuring parental posturpedic, but putting a child to bed in their own room isn’t about pushing them out, but about giving them their own space and a modicum of independence. Kids can play quietly by themselves, read under the covers with a flashlight, or sleep without constant direct parental supervision, and might even enjoy it. And give mom and dad (or mom and mom, or dad and dad) some private nookie time after lights out. How do you think the founding parents of this country had 12 or 14 kids? It wasn’t by sleeping with all of them through the age of 6. It was by sleeping with each other, and taking parents-only time seriously. Besides, co-sleeping has been given the thumbs down by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the US Consumer Product Safety Commission – in case you need backup reasoning to put the kid in its crib and have the bed to yourselves.
Men’s Clubs: The Anti Man-Cave
Women have lots of places that are de facto just for us, as well as (whether culturally constructed or tied to our neurology) just being plain old better at putting together women’s nights out – or in. Right now, men have….strip clubs. Maybe if guys had a place where they could go and just be guys, allowed to bond in quiet and security with other men their own age (and older mentors), it would lead to more positive male bonding spaces and occupations. Not to mention the unattractive (and sex-curtailing) jealousy that wives and partners tend to display when all the spare bills have disappeared from the cookie jar. Not every guy wants to spend evenings at the Rubdown Room, but these days, it’s all they’ve got.
Baby Nurses and Nannies: Keeping Parents Happy for Generations
Baby nurses help take care of mom and baby for the first six weeks to few months after a bundle of (screaming, pooping, puking) joy joins the family, and can really assist new parents with the adjustment by giving mom and dad periods of time when they can catch up on sleep, maybe step out for some coffee, or take a head-clearing walk. AKA acting like human beings who see each other as more than baby feeder and baby changer. Not necessarily a huge extravagance, baby nurses are definitely more useful – not to mention planet-friendly – to parents than the boxes of plastic stuff that are given at the baby shower. Anyone who looks down at families for having a baby nurse, or the longer-term nanny – so parents can attend adult functions, keep their careers alive, or just plain get it on, and keep their marriage or partnership strong, healthy and sexy – has forgotten that happy, fulfilled parents make better parents. Not to mention better human beings, drivers, bosses and coworkers.
Image above by Flickr User Tobyotter.