Despite the catastrophic loss of life and the restrictions to our daily lives, should we completely disregard all that these past eighteen months have taught us?
Well, not exactly.
So, what lessons should be taking away from such a difficult period?
#1: Kids Can Thrive with More Downtime
Before the pandemic, increasingly packed schedules meant that a lot of our focus was simply about ushering kids from one activity to the next, without much time in between to stop and think about what we were doing.
But once we were able to sit back, reflect and decompress at home, many kids found themselves looking for activities that they actually wanted to do.
“We often over schedule our kids, the pandemic afforded families time to reconnect and get off the fast train. All the after school clubs and classes halted and it allowed parents and kids time to relax and switch off from a fast-paced living.” Says blogger, teacher and parent of three Emma Bradley.
“Rather than thinking kids had to do ALL the things and have no downtime, they have managed their time better, and have been able to entertain themselves with less scheduled formal classes”.
#2: There Is No Such Thing as The Perfect Parent
In recent years, videos and blogs on parenting have become more popular than ever before, and while that’s great, it’s important to realise that despite the polished family photos and Pinterest boards, there is no such thing as a perfect parent and the pandemic has given many the chance to realign parenting priorities and how we perceive great parenting.
“’Modern family life is stressful, but the pandemic made me realise how much of that pressure I was actually placing on myself,” says journalist, lifestyle blogger and mother of two, Jacqui Paterson.
“Being forced to strip back and slow down reminded me what was really important. My kids are at an age where they’re either hanging with friends or glued to a screen; the pandemic pushed us back together and forced us to make more of our time.”
#3: A Parent is Always a Parent
Working mothers have always faced considerable bias in the workplace when it comes to raising a family and holding down a successful career, something that isn’t called into question in the same way for working dads.
Once the pandemic came around the notion of the traditional day was no longer a possibility, without the routine of the school day, many parents, mothers in particular in most cases had to find new ways to juggle childcare, home schooling and careers.
Rebecca Lockdown, a successful trainer, entrepreneur, author, business owner and mother of two young girls, found this balance especially difficult but has found a way to make this new balance work for her family and her business.
“Home-schooling during the pandemic was a challenge due to working a lot during the week. I already worked from home three days a week in my business and then when we went into lockdown it ruffled what was possible and what I had to prioritise. Thankfully I have worked around my children from home since they were born so this wasn’t really anything new to me, however, the home-schooling was.”
“I knew that I had to be resourceful and get as much done in as little time as possible to prioritise my children. I did find this a challenge as my strongest values in life are success and family, making them conflict slightly and so I had to ensure I gave them both the space and time they needed to get stuff done.”
“This forced me to delegate a lot of the work that I was still doing myself at that time and it made me a better parent, leader, business owner and much more effective, freeing me up to be able to focus on only the roles in my business that I can really do well.”
“It wasn’t always easy juggling it all but going through lockdowns and the pandemic really enabled me to see a different perspective.”
#4: Flexibility is Crucial
For the first time in recorded history, hundreds of thousands of households all over the world had two parents working from home simultaneously, and for Rebecca working on this balance with her husband has made such a difference in the life of her family.
“Last summer I knew I did need to spend a bit more time in the business and couldn’t do it all. I was managing the home life, home-schooling and running my successful business all at once.” Says Rebecca.
“Within this time, I also scaled my business, hired a weekly cleaner and employed my husband so he was able to leave his job and help more in the business and at home. This changed so much for me. It means that I am still able to work 3 days a week, support my children when they need me and have help at home.”
#5: Be Grateful for Health & Togetherness
In this fast-paced world, where screens seem to dominate any free time we have, we often forget to look up once in a while and take in our surroundings, and we’re all guilty of taking what we have for granted at times.
However, pandemic life forced us to glance at what and who we have around us and take a real inhale for the first time.
“The pandemic, although it has been uncomfortable for so many and made things tricky with the kids at home, has given us the opportunity to reconnect with our children.” Says Rebecca.
“We have had the chance to have real conversations with the kids, and we’ve had more time to be there to help and support them through a tough year.”
As Jacqui puts it, “Fancy meals were replaced with BBQs in the garden, cinema trips with movie nights in the living room, with takeaway pizza and popcorn.”
“We rediscovered how to live more simply and really enjoy each other’s company again.”
“Parenting through a pandemic reminded us of what we already knew – how lucky we were to be healthy and happy, and to have each other.”
The pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on our families, the economy and the world at large. However, despite the doom and gloom, we’ve had an unusual opportunity to bring our lives up against the mirror and closely examine what’s important to us.
We can hope these lessons are taken on board and considered as we start to return to some form of normality.