2020 was a year that changed everything. As we faced a world where almost nothing felt the same anymore, we reevaluated what was important and what worked best for our families. We moved to new homes, jobs, and schools. We prioritized time with loved ones and got creative about how to see each other. We had virtual baby and bridal showers, built firepits, trick or treated with chutes and table displays, had garage parties, and Zoomed each other at holiday dinners. Basically, we took what we had and made it work.
Perhaps, one of the greatest gifts of the past year was the grace we showed for one another. As everyone struggled to juggle work and school schedules, we learned to ask for help. We reached out to neighbors. We gave each other a break.
As things slowly, and thankfully, return to normal, I know despite the difficult changes during COVID, there are some positive onesI hope to keep in place for our family. Here are my top five:
1. Prioritizing family time.
It’s tempting to sign up for all the sports and clubs again and say yes to every social invitation. We’ll be so happy to participate in activities with our friends again!
But saying “no” to too many activities is actually saying “yes” to family time and downtime. This year, I’ve watched my kids overcome boredom with wildly imaginative games and time spent exploring outside. All four of my kids have spent hours together instead of split up in separate activities. I don’t see us rushing to break up this type of time together anytime soon.
2. Getting creative with what we already have.
Looking around our neighborhood, I see firepits in yards and driveways. There are makeshift skating rinks, more basketball hoops, and more sidewalk chalk drawings. We all found ways to make our homes places of creativity and fun. We celebrated from afar with Zoom parties, virtual happy hours, and outdoor gatherings. Our family also found more walks and trails than we knew existed in our state. We learned we didn’t have to travel far to make our fun when we needed to.
3. Giving each other grace.
This year was hard for everyone – adults and kids alike. Our family learned to prioritize what really mattered and let the rest go. If assignments weren’t done perfectly or the Internet wasn’t working, or the house was a complete mess, or if someone was having a bad day, I think we learned to recover more quickly than usual. Everyone got second, third, and fourth chances. I hope we can carry some of this memory with us. Life is hard. Let the small stuff go.
4. Asking for help.
It wasn’t easy this year remote learning at home and then juggling ever-changing school schedules. Our neighbors banded together to help fill in the gaps – walking each other’s kids to school, lending each other paper towels or pantry staples, or sharing school supplies. We got comfortable with asking for what we needed.
When my stress and anxiety levels peaked, I also found help with some amazing meditative and mental health apps. Two that really helped me this year were CALM and NOOM. Some of these even paired you with a counselor – I highly recommend seeing what’s out there!
5. Celebrating whenever we can.
2020 taught us that you never know what’s right around the corner. Rather than getting caught up in routines or daily stress (most of which is completely made up), I hope our family can remember to stop and celebrate each other often!