As 2020 draws to a close, I am in awe of the many ways we adapted to change as parents this year.
Many of us managed a sudden shift to home school or distance learning while also working from home. Some of us couldn’t work from home because we were deemed essential. Some of us lost jobs and struggled financially. We learned so much about ourselves and our kids and grew as parents because of the adversity we faced.
Here are my top 10 lessons from a year of pandemic parenting:
1. Kids adapt quickly to change.
I was worried about sending my kids back to in-person school, because I knew they would have to wear masks all day and not get too close to their friends. I was afraid the changes to the normal school atmosphere would upset them, but they took the changes in stride. Sure, they rip their masks off their faces as soon as they get off the bus, but they certainly adapted to wearing masks and keeping their distance from one another much faster than most adults did.
2. There is such a thing as too much time together.
My love language is quality time. And yet, I found out this year that there really can be too much of a good thing. Distance certainly makes the heart grow fonder when it comes to being stuck in the same house with your children for weeks on end. (I love my daughters, but they are so loud, and they never stop talking!)
3. Kids use a lot of toilet paper (and groceries).
I did not realize how much toilet paper my children actually go through in a week until they were at home all day every day, and there was a shortage. I think their toilet paper usage must be in direct proportion to the amount of groceries they consume when they are at home all the time!!
4. Kids understand more than we realize.
From coronavirus to the presidential election, I am constantly amazed at how much information my children retain and how well they actually seem to understand current events. In many cases, I think kids can be more objective than adults because they have not been influenced by lived experiences.
5. Fresh air is always a good idea.
When everyone needs some space and a little reset for our attitudes, we venture outside! One of our favorite quarantine pastimes became taking long walks or bike rides together. My girls have also loved using their scooters and inline skates on our street and playing hide-and-seek in our backyard. Being outside refreshes our minds, bodies, and souls.
6. There is too much stuff in our house.
2020 was the year of decluttering. I didn’t realize how much crap we actually had in our house until I had to stare at it all day every day. There seems to be a direct correlation between how much clutter we have and how bored, unhappy, and uninspired we feel. I have noticed that the less stuff my kids have in their rooms, the more their imaginations flourish.
7. Flexibility is a virtue.
2020 was also the year of the curve balls. They just kept on coming, and we had no choice but to keep up and keep going. It turns out that we (both kids and adults) are far more flexible than we knew we were before this unprecedented year of constant changes and challenges.
8. Even introverts get lonely.
Our youngest daughter is an extrovert. She was tired of us almost instantly and wanted to see all of her friends on day one of quarantine. Our oldest, who is an introvert, put up with us a little longer, but eventually she, too, craved the companionship of friends her own age. She found solace playing Minecraft while talking through Alexa with both local friends and her cousin in another state, but it wasn’t the same as being face to face with her peers.
9. Reading is one of the best ways to escape.
We did a lot of reading with our kids this year. My husband read books 1 through 5 of the Harry Potter series to our daughters, and I read all of the American Girl Kirsten books to them. (We recently started the Addy series, as well.) Not only has reading together helped us bond, it has also helped us figuratively escape being stuck at home through the characters and their stories.
10. The only thing that never changes is laundry.
It doesn’t matter if we are staying at home all the time or not, or if there’s a pandemic or not, when you have kids, one thing we can always count on is endless loads of laundry. (The only difference now is the addition of reusable cloth masks to our massive piles of things to wash.)