I laughed so hard at my witty friend sharing she hoped 2021 would be more…precedented. I know we’ve all heard that 2020 was an unprecedented year. Truly, I don’t think there’s a soul it didn’t change at least one aspect of their life in major ways. For our family, 2020 changed almost everything logistical and routine.
The trials of 2020
I could harp on the fact that date night has been upended, and we’ve adapted to almost exclusive at-home date ideas. Or I could share perhaps the hardest part: not having childcare and not having time to work for nine months. There’s been little sleep, a lot of stress, and a lot of falling through the cracks I haven’t been able to manage while trying to stay safe. I’m sure I could go on and on, but I’m not one to dwell on the negative. There was a lot, so I’m just sitting back being thankful for a new year!
I think how excited I am for this new year. But as I jump to the next phases and the next things, I realize so much of 2021 will look a lot like 2020. This, once again, makes me think it’s time to focus on the 2020 blessings, that extend into 2021. Truly there was so much good! And for anyone else feeling those after-holiday-blues who needs a boost to see some good, I’d highly recommend writing out the specific gifts 2020 gave you. Because truly, amazing things happen in even the most unprecedented of years!
Here are 20 blessings we’ve experienced in 2020 that I’ll forever be thankful for.
Things We’ve Learned
- My oldest son learned to read at age four!
Preschool never resumed after spring break, and our son’s teachers adapted quickly! They offered one-on-one digital reading sessions so he wouldn’t lose any progress. This was the perfect fit for our son, and he just excelled! What was already taking off just soared with a reading tutor setup from a teacher he loves.
- Appreciation for floors, a home, and safety.
We gutted our home and the world shut down a week later leaving us with concrete floors and supply chain issues. The day the floors and kitchen were in and functional enough to use
is a day I will never forget! I’ll never take a nice safe physical home for granted again! Also, we shared a lot of info about what it’s like to remodel during a pandemic.
- More opportunities to listen to others.
Also, more opportunities to continue my anti-racist learning and journey, and a great sense of love for those who are marginalized in my country and in the world. I had so many opportunities in college and as a high school teacher (my undergrad emphasis is in multicultural American lit). Additionally, I became a teacher to amplify voices and educate through literature. I needed the wake-up call to be better and do more in the role I currently live in.
- Rock the vote.
I have a deeper understanding and involvement in the honor and responsibility to vote. I will not be lazy and only understand a little about a few people on my ballot again.
- More reading.
I’ve listened to audiobooks, found more time for podcasts, and spent the bulk of my reading time consuming creditable news. I’ve truly learned to read several sources and understand where mistruths begin and how to weed through opinions slants to find events. My undergrad university has pillars of learning, and one is “Life-long learning.” Although I feel like I love learning and always feel passionate about it, I’ve never felt so informed on world events and cared about being educated in research and current events.
- We’ve learned so many home improvement skills. Our original plan only involved learning to tile two bathroom floors. We’ve done so much more with our remodel, and mostly ourselves! I can’t believe how much we’ve tackled, and how wonderful YouTube is for empowering us with remodel confidence to try new projects!
Things We’ve Accomplished
- We remodeled 60% of our home!
It may have taken months of supply chain issues and so many late-night projects. But I have a home I’m so proud of, and we did so much of it ourselves! See our kitchen backsplash reveal here, and I promise more posts coming soon!
- Better food storage. We believe in being prepared and having at least a few month’s food supplies in storage. We purposely depleted ours for a remodel, and the world shut down with bare grocery shelves in the middle of this. Luckily, we had enough to get by. I learned a lot about more practical food storage for our family. I will definitely share some systems and checklists we’ve created. It’s helped us be wiser with our food and better at emergency preparedness.
- Jacob has perfected homemade rolls.
We love our famous family roll recipe, and he’s made them so much they are better than any batch I’ve had in my entire life!
Things We’ve Experienced
- Family movie nights became a sacred ritual
We’ve done tons of outdoor movie nights, lots of homemade pizza dough, and found plenty of excellent movies for family movie night. When there’s nowhere to go and nothing to do, family movie night feels like an exciting something to do we all enjoy.
- A Connection
I slowed down and connected with one of the world’s most difficult toddlers and bonded in a new way. I love my kids, but I haven’t had a person see my baby in person who hasn’t made some comment about how busy he is or how much energy he has. He has many qualities that will make him a great leader and an amazing adult someday! Many of these are very difficult in a frustrated toddler ready to take on the world without the skillset to. It has been a very hard year a half for me just due to my personality and such an assertive toddler.
But a remodel where our home wasn’t safe and there literally wasn’t even a restaurant we could go to, meant I had to watch him 24/7 for any nail, rock, tool, etc. he could hurt himself with. I had to cut work and my plans and just pay nonstop attention to him. I was ready for bed by noon each day!
However, within a few days, I had a new understanding and appreciation for my child. He’s truly going grab the world and make his life whatever he wants from it. His drive and ambition are remarkable! All of the sudden, I can see why he’s so assertive, and where his little frustrations stem from. And this connection may not have happened for years without the blessings of 2020.
- We spent a month living in Utah and quarantining with my brother’s family.
We grew so much closer to this family who we don’t get to see very often. And the weather and the small town vibes were just what we needed while we awaited finishing our remodel.
- Church from home
I’ve had more spiritual experiences this year through church than ever! It’s been a big blessing for our family.
- Connecting with family through Zoom and Teams
We’ve spoken to our extended family a lot more often thanks to feelings of isolation. I love how close we’ve grown!
It’s truly a challenge to be self-employed. I won’t sugar coat it, there were a few months I worried about what the future of my ability to do this looked like. But after a few months, the world knew they needed date nights. Parents really saught out family fun they could do in safe ways. I’m so lucky to call this my job. I’m so grateful for only a brief moment of worry!
And we’re equally thankful for Jacob’s job! There were some layoffs in the large company he works for, and we’re grateful they recovered quickly and have even had growth after a scary time. We know we’re privileged to work from home and to have jobs that not only pay the bills but that we truly love!
- Support and Even Growth.
I have to mention the amazing friends and readers who have kept my blog and business afloat (and growing!) I’m so lucky to have people who have followed our journey this year! I had this overwhelming feeling I needed to share some fun at-home dates, but the bulk of content should be helping overwhelmed moms. It was a pivot so many of you loved and supported!
I’ll always share dates, and I think we’ll need to get out more than ever later this year. I’ll be here for it! But I’m forever grateful I could add this pillar of content to make parenting a little more fun and a lot easier for moms this year.
How It’s Impacted Our Marriage and Family
- Jacob has worked from home for 10 months.
This is my greatest of all 2020 blessings! If this was my only item, it would make it all worthwhile. Jacob works a demanding job, and he puts in a lot of hours. He loves it! I am so proud of what he does for a living (helping bring clean energy to the world). As a consultant, he logs a lot of frequent flyer miles. 2020 gave us the gift of only a week of bedtimes I had to do alone.
Our kids have a deeper connection and love for daddy because they see so much more of him! The hour he spent commuting is now more time with children. When they have a really exciting thing, they know how to check if dad has a second they can tell him about it.
Jacob always felt like the bystander to our baby years only getting weekends an hour or two at night. He has got to soak up so many moments he would have missed not working from home. It has been a gift for all of us!
- My life has been easier with a backup parent
Aside from the sweet connections of Jacob and the kids, there’s the other half of having a set of backup hands in hard moments. If both kids have a meltdown and he can leave the office for five minutes, he will. He hears our highest highs and our lowest lows. If there’s a minute window, he comes to enjoy or help rescue us.
Plus, one fewer diaper change a day really makes toddler years a lot more enjoyable!
- Lunch with my husband every day. We’ve tried to fit in lunch dates our entire marriage. It’s been a sweet thing to have about 30 minutes together as a family. Some days Jacob and I talk and our kids enjoy each other. Some days my kids bask in every moment of daddy. Either way, we’re all thankful for the moments in the middle of the day we get to spend together.
- A deeper love.
I know a lot of marriages have struggled with so much time together. I’ve thought deeply about the stress of not feeling like you have alone time, or that you’re both so overwhelmed/stressed/depressed/tired. It’s been a tough year friends, and that means those feelings are around in marriages too.
I’ve had the luck of marrying a quality time man, and I happen to be a quality time woman. We don’t get sick of each other, and we work enough separately we still don’t feel like coworkers.
We’ve never had to navigate more balancing than we have this year. It’s stressful! But we’ve figured out how to get noisy little boys distracted to protect each other’s important phone calls. We’ve figured out how to keep our home cleaner and more organized. There’s an understanding when someone needs a few minutes alone.
And this greater teamwork necessity has made me love my husband even more! I couldn’t have asked for a better quarantine partner! I’m so thankful for the appreciation and literal proof of what a good team we are together!
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