Well, that was one heck of a year.
Without downplaying the challenges many families faced during 2020, there were definitely many learning opportunities to be had when it comes to being a parent.
While COVID-19 put a halt to the way of life as we knew it, the lessons it taught us as parents were inarguably invaluable.
Suddenly, we were faced with astronomical disruptions to our routines and schedules – work, school and the time we had to spend with our families were completely thrown into a tailspin.
So what did COVID-19 teach us as parents? Here are six ways the pandemic better shaped our parenting skills:
How to Better Balance Our Relationships with Our Children
Children need a healthy balance of attention and guidance as well as room to develop independence.
I spent the first couple of months of the lockdown focused on keeping my daughter engaged and active.
After about two months she told me she was tired of spending so much time with me because I was driving her nuts.
It was during this time that I learned to ignore my “mom guilt” and let her go off and do her own thing during the day.
This pandemic has certainly given many parents more time to spend with their children than their schedules would usually allow. It’s also allowed parents to better gauge when their child needs their own space.
How to Adapt and Be Flexible
Getting up early to get ready for school? Nope. Getting out of the house for a few hours to work? Probably not.
Seeing family and friends? Hard no.
The routines and schedules we held onto so dearly were no more, forcing us as parents to become more adaptable and flexible.
We were suddenly scampering to find ways to make an income and keep our little ones entertained while trying to maintain some semblance of normalcy in our lives.
Many parents started working from home or started their own home-based businesses. In the meantime, we had to keep our kids engaged and out of our hair so we could get our work done.
Somehow, it worked, and we learned how to adapt and become flexible in our situations.
How to Improve Our Financial Planning
I know that in many places around the world, very little was offered in terms of financial aid. This forced a lot of families to rethink the way they spent money.
Was this a horrible thing? Definitely. For many parents, it was a painful struggle to not know if the bills were going to be paid or if food was going to be placed on the table.
However, the lesson learned in financial planning is an important one.
Parents had to get creative, finding ways to cut spending and increase income.
Thankfully, having everything shut down certainly curbed the temptation to spend money on shopping and entertainment – but that didn’t solve the problem.
The hope here is that, as things go back to “normal”, families will have a better understanding of how they can better plan their finances.
How Important People Really Are in Our Lives
Joni Mitchell said it best in her song Big Yellow Taxi: “You don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone.”
While we weren’t necessarily busy paving paradise and putting up parking lots, we learned the hard way how important our family and friends are.
However, the pandemic of 2020 enabled us to find new and unique ways to stay connected to our support systems using technology.
While I couldn’t join my mom-friends at McDonald’s for our “McMom” dates, we resorted to video chatting.
It wasn’t the same as eating hamburgers and letting our kiddos play on the indoor playground equipment but we were able to catch up, have a few laughs and drink wine.
(Something that is not acceptable at McDonald’s, apparently.)
One amazing thing that happened once restrictions were lifted in my area was that I started spending time with friends that I hadn’t seen a lot of before COVID-19 hit.
There’s nothing like social isolation to help you realize just how important family and friends really are in your life.
How Children are Human Too
As much as we struggled as parents to cope with the changes brought on by the pandemic, our children were facing the challenges of isolation too.
We tend to think of children as pliable being ignorant to the struggles of the world but, in reality, they were just as affected as us adults.
Children depend on routine in order to develop and thrive – without expectations from day-to-day, their little minds get easily confused and they lose a sense of security.
Pair that with the fact that many were out of school and distanced from their friends and teachers and you have a recipe for mental health issues.
Recently, our area was shifted back to a previous “zone” of regulations that restricted us from socializing with friends and families in order to mitigate a recent outbreak.
So many people on Facebook were crying to have schools shut down.
My heart broke at the thought of having this happen – which, thankfully, it didn’t. I couldn’t imagine putting my daughter through the mental struggle of being away from her friends and her routine again.
Children are human beings with the same mental struggles and challenges as the rest of us. This year has certainly taught us that they need support and compassion too.
How to Slow Down and Live in the Moment
I remember when the pandemic first spread across Canada and we were put into a lockdown, my mother’s first instinct was to buy yeast to make bread.
Which was near impossible to find.
My first instinct was to take my daughter and visit the local trails. It was still wintertime but the weather was starting to warm up.
This year, we learned a lot about slowing down and enjoying the present moment. Instead of panicking about the future, I tried to find something enjoyable for my daughter and me to do every day – whether that was hiking, making crafts or just playing videogames.
Mindful thinking when it comes to facing a crisis is not only crucial to maintaining your mental health but also helpful your child navigate a completely confusing and scary time.
Yes, the future is uncertain and frightening, but letting yourself succumb to the worry and anxiety doesn’t make the present situation any easier.
Instead, we learned how to enjoy the time we did have with our family as well as discover new hobbies, activities and interests.
We also learned how to be grateful for what we did have – not only the necessities of life but the opportunities to nurture our relationships and grow as individuals.
I imagine you have an idea in your mind of what changes caused by the pandemic that you would like to see continue into the new year.
Write them down! Instead of focusing your energy on making new year’s resolutions, challenge yourself to incorporate the valuable lessons you learned in 2020 into your everyday life.
How about you? What did 2020 teach you as a parent? Share with us in the comments below!