I’m a sucker for a good meme, so it’s not lost on me that the transition from 2020 to 2021 has loads of potential for quality meme production. What a year!
So why am I finding myself avoiding social media instead of sharing away? The truth is that I am finding all the negativity disheartening. It was a HARD year, yes, but all those challenges brought progressive changes, too, and I am discouraged that society in general seems to be overlooking that.
I’m not saying it’s been all sunshine and roses! Moving to remote learning has not been an easy adjustment for many families, including ours. My oldest three children are in developmentally critical years (kindergarten, 2nd, and 3rd grade) and my 9 year old faces ADHD challenges that do not sync well with sitting at a computer all day. I am hardly certified to teach kids to read, and yet have had to embrace that role while juggling my toddler and my covid-affected photography business. I am not going to sugarcoat this experience: some days it feels overwhelmingly HARD. I am constantly amazed at the adaptability of my kids, though! As time breeds familiarity with the new technology and daily structure, it HAS gotten easier for them. Being at home means they aren’t comparing themselves to the other kids, and I’ve seen my daughter engage more and more confidently with the teacher as time passes. They set up their cubbies in the morning, follow along with the schedule, and then clean up once class lets out. (Okay, maybe I do the cleaning. Baby steps!)
Maybe they aren’t learning as much classroom content as they would have in the standard classroom, but they are filling in those gaps with so many other essential life skills: flexibility, independence, time management, self-discipline, confidence. Not to mention they have all become avid readers! From my end I have a deeper understanding of my kids’ educational needs, too. I’d say that is a remote learning WIN.*
There are societal benefits, too. Do you think that businesses would have put the effort into making remote work efforts successful, if they hadn’t had the impetus of the pandemic to do so? Yet we all are enjoying the shorter commute time and lower carbon footprint, greater flexibility and autonomy. I know that given the freedom to do work on my own timetable, I confidently labor around the clock. It’s the bane of every business owner everywhere; we just can’t seem to give ourselves a break! It seems America feels the same, as studies say that working from home increases productivity by up to 13%. Apparently we all appreciate being the master of our own domain.
Studies also claim we are saving more money, spending more time outside, and adopting a slower pace of life. My partner and I have heartily embraced all the outdoor play, schlepping our kids along for the ride. We have camped across the state and hiked in more than a dozen parks. As someone who personally has suffered from anxiety for dozens of years, I have never felt calmer or more in control than in 2020! Amazing that I am able to say so during a global pandemic: what a fantastic reminder of the mental health benefits that being outside and simplifying our lives brings.
My greatest silver lining has been the quieter moments with my husband and kids. We aren’t running out for soccer or scouts or even groceries (Thanks, Instacart!), and instead enjoy each others’ company over dinner leisurely, often planning our next outdoor adventure. I can’t remember the last weekend we had to juggle activities or split parenting duties! The more relaxed pace has rubbed off on the kids, too; our 9 year old doles out more hugs than ever, the toddler sleeps through the night, and our kindergartener learned to ride a bike. It doesn’t feel like they are growing up too quickly, because we are truly IN every moment. The opportunity to revel in their childhood feels like an unexpected blessing.
2020 was a banner year; it shook things up for sure. If only we would embrace all the changes as easily as we accepted sweatpants and TikTok! For me, I’ll be carrying much of 2020 into 2021, and I am grateful for it.
*Don’t get me wrong; I am counting down the days until they head back into the classroom! But until that happens, we are doing just fine. As my respect for teachers grows with every moment.