By Melissa Stefanec
As far as the Gregorian calendar is concerned, 2020 is officially behind us.
Traditionally, we would be focusing on resolutions. We would ask ourselves: how we can make this year better than the last by way of our own actions and resolve? However, resolutions feel almost frivolous at a time like this.
Want to commit to going to the gym more? Nope, we can’t go to gyms. Want to spend more time with our families? Nope, 2020 gave us loads of family time (thank goodness). Want to drink less and cut back on sugar? Nope, we need something to boost our dopamine levels while trapped in our homes. The resolutions of years past simply won’t hack it this year.
And, perhaps, those shouldn’t hack it in any year. Resolutions are all foresight. They don’t demand much hindsight or insight. Resolutions are about abandoning what came before and starting anew. They tell us not to look back, which is ironic. I think there’s a saying that starts out, “those who don’t learn from history…”
Instead of making resolutions, maybe we should look at the information 2020 gave us, sit with that information for a while, and then arrive at insights.
At my day job, we talk a lot about “therefore, we shoulds.” It’s a basic concept that asks, “now that you have this information, what actions will you take because of it?”
It sounds simple, but it’s anything but. It requires one to be honest about what they’ve learned and then act from a place of knowledge.
So, in lieu of my usual New Year’s resolutions, I will share my pandemic parenting “therefore, we shoulds.” We can do better in 2021, but only if we embrace what 2020 taught us and ask how that should change our behavior.
1. It felt good to slow down; therefore, we shouldn’t resume the chaos of pre-pandemic life.
Before this pandemic, most parents were burning a candle at four ends. My family sure felt the same way. When this is all over, maybe we can find a balance between almost never leaving our property and almost never being on our property.
2. We found out who was there for us when things got tough; therefore, we should nurture those relationships moving forward.
When things got tough, some people kept in contact and some didn’t. When our lives are once more a social free-for-all, let’s surround our families with those people.
3. We adapted to most changes fairly easily; therefore, we should not fear change and learn from our children.
A lot of adults were having some really big feelings about all of the changes 2020 brought. For the most part, our children rolled with the punches. What if us adults had skipped the martyr phase?
4. We watched how quickly our children mastered technology; therefore, we should teach our children how to use it safely.
If there is one place we can’t afford to be ignorant, it’s technology. We need to monitor how our kids are using it and who they are engaging with on it. Most importantly, we need to teach them how to use it safely and autonomously.
5. We looked to the arts for beauty and consolation; therefore, we should teach our children how to support artists.
When the world felt like too much, we turned to music, books, poetry and art. We looked to the artists to rescue us. We need to teach our children to value art and support it. Think about how much more painful 2020 would have been without art. That’s reason enough to take our children to go to museums, concerts and local bookstores when this is all over.
6. We saw how quickly people can turn against each other; therefore, we should be empathy role models for our children.
Many adults have been frighteningly divisive. We need to raise people who can listen to other side and be willing to compromise.
7. We learned there is so much we can’t control; therefore, we should coach our children on self-control.
In our current social and political climate, self-control is a bad word. It shouldn’t be this way. We should coach (and model) grace and poise during periods of adversity. We should work with our children to embrace their emotions and still treat others with respect.
8. We witnessed how quickly and easily things can fall apart; therefore, we should challenge our children to be resilient problem solvers.
Our children will inherit the problems we could not deal with. The least we can do is encourage them to ask tough questions and work together to find solutions.
9. We didn’t miss consumerism nearly as much as we missed our loved ones; therefore, we should start giving each other the gift of time.
How are we going to spend our time when all of the restrictions are lifted?
10. We quickly realized how much we took for granted; therefore, we should encourage ourselves and our kids to make the people we love feel our love.
We should engage of small acts of simple kindness. We can make 2020 the year that changed our perspective (and our world) for the better.