Remember around this time last year, when we kicked off the longest spring break ever? Yep, we’ve been at this for 12 months. And while we kept hearing the warning that this was the “new normal” (which brought pain to my gut every time I heard it), it takes some hindsight to see exactly how the pandemic has changed parenting.
We’ve had to take temperatures more than our thermometers could handle, have extra conversations about online safety, and constantly shout, “Don’t forget to grab your mask!” But some changes are more subtle than those. Here are 5 ways moms have changed, learned, and grown during this crazy year.
1. We became less commercial.
Before the pandemic, my family filled our weekends with the latest thing that had been marketed to us, like a movie or a theme park. When those options went away, we had to get creative and think outside the box—or building, I guess. My family went kayaking, geocaching, and explored our neighborhood, none of which were promoted to me in my Instagram feed.
2. We learned to value silly.
Silliness in parenting is undervalued. I could feel the tension evaporate in the moments when we just got silly. In stressful times, our kids need to see us smile, be weird, dance, and look relaxed, so they feel the permission to relax too. I think this is one of the best examples of how the pandemic has changed parenting for the better.
In stressful times, our kids need to see us smile, be weird, dance, and look relaxed, so they feel the permission to relax too.
3. We got real in our friendships.
No one parents alone. Who else did a Zoom happy hour or small group with girlfriends? It’s no secret that women need connection, but these 12 months have shown us that the connection needs to be deep. Most of us probably had very real conversations, like ones that included, “I can’t do this again tomorrow” or “I’m really scared.” Thank God for real friendships that help us be better moms.
4. We learned about our stressors.
If you went from commuting to an office to working from home, you probably saw a change in your stress level. I know I did. Not sitting in traffic twice a day has made me so much more patient with my family. Now if you’ve been home with your kids trying to manage the eLearning circus, maybe you are dreaming of going back to bumper-to-bumper traffic. Either way, I think this disruption has revealed how our tempers are closely tied to our routines.
5. We settled for less and it was just fine.
Over the past 12 months, we’ve done a lot less. Less dining out, fewer trips to amusement parks, fewer playdates. I know the economic impact of “less” has been tough, but I’ve seen my family adapt and get by just fine with more white space on our calendar.
What did you learn about parenting (or about yourself) throughout this past year?