Highs and Lows from 2020

More Family Time and More StressChild sitting on bench amid greenery and under blue skies

  • What: Highs and Lows
  • When: 2020
  • Why: Year in review
  • Where: At home

2020 was such an unusual year it seems worth recording both the highs and lows. It still feels like we won’t ever forget the unusual events and the changes that they wrought. But based on prior experience, the details will fade, and I wanted to remember that it brought lots of good times along with the less stellar changes.

Let’s start with the highlights. I love family meals. We can now get a full meal to go from many of our favorite local and chain restaurants. We get the joys of not having to cook while being spared the embarrassment of public meltdowns. What’s more, many of these meals not only come at a discount over what we’d pay to eat in the restaurant, but most feed our family of five more than once. Whether it provides an extra side for a future meal, or an entire second round for all of us, we get a lot of bang for our buck.

Pots and pans stacked and stored in sliding drawer in open cabinet
I can get behind less cooking.

Speaking of ordering, online shopping became even more widely available, with kinder return policies to go with the increase. I can now get just about anything delivered to my door, from groceries and clothing to new tires and adult beverages. Many more restaurants and retailers offer online ordering, and I can get almost anything I need without leaving home. If I want it quicker but still don’t want to set foot inside a building, I can order online for curbside pickup. 

Kids lounging in backyard with bare feet cooling off in splash pad wading pool
No pools open? No problem. We’ll cool off at home.

Despite all the restrictions, we’ve also experienced an increase in the number of outdoor options. Our city closed some streets permanently to give residents more space for outdoor activities. Many programs made use of outdoor areas, especially during the summer months, to give people options to eat out, work out, and just plain get out of the house. We continually came up with new ways to get everyone out in the fresh air and get a change of scenery.

Finally, if there’s one thing we embraced in our household in 2020 it’s flexibility. We’ve come up with creative solutions to a whole host of issues, from exercising to learning to working from home. Whether we found space for three kids to have simultaneous online meetings, or just enough time to ourselves so we can keep going, we have had to come up with new ideas and new ways of doing so many different things. 

January 2021 calendar empty boxes
Our calendar has no sports, lessons, or anything else on it.

Now let’s talk about the lows. As a parent, it doesn’t get much harder than having school cancelled for months on end with less than 24 hours notice. While most schools did what they could to pivot to online learning, I have yet to meet a parent or child who prefers the online schedule. So much of my kids’ joy in education comes from being with peers. And let’s face it. I need some time to not be a parent, too. It goes without saying that kids learn better from teachers, not just because of their training and experience. But my kids give their teachers a lot less grief and complaints.

Adult face masks in various colors fanned on hardwood floor
No one likes masks.

You can’t talk about the low spots without mentioning the virus that feels like it brought the world to a stand still. From masks to social distancing, we’ve all had to learn to deal with this new normal. Paired with more responsibility (I’m looking at you, remote learning!) and increased household chores (it’s amazing how many dishes kids can generate when they are home all day every day), I sometimes wonder how we made it work.

wildfire smoke obscuring skies over houses with yellow tinge
Wildfire smoke filled the air for weeks.

If you thought parenting in a pandemic sucked, toss in a lot of wildfire smoke and see what happens. At least during the worst of the quarantine, we could venture outside for a change of scenery. During the wildfires that raged over the western part of the country, we feared even opening a door. The toxic levels in the air reached new heights. I had no idea that certain levels of air pollution existed before the city became engulfed in smoke and we spent a tense few weeks cooped up together. Left to the vagaries of wind conditions and more circumstances outside our control, we didn’t dare open a door or window. 

I don’t have enough room to list everything from 2020 that had such a huge effect on us, from racial injustice to politics. But even on a smaller, personal scale, looking back reminds me that we got through it all together. While I hope we never see another year like 2020, I also like to think we will learn from our experiences and use the lessons to create a better place.

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