11 lessons we learnt about parenthood in 2021

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Wow. What a year it’s been. Again. I remember sitting down at this same point last year and thinking back over the year that was. We had ‘survived’ a global pandemic, the worst was behind us and there was so much hope, nay pressure, for 2021 to be amazing.

We were talking about silver linings and not taking freedoms for granted – and then before long, the freedoms we swore we wouldn’t take for granted were once taken from us. Well, 2021… what a doozy that turned out to be, right?

We talk about parenting being a rollercoaster, but parenting in a pandemic feels more like a tsunami. Being in lockdown felt all-consuming at the time, with homeschooling and working from home and trying to keep a household happy and healthy and thriving. But we learnt quickly that it was more about just simply surviving. Expectations were lowered – like really lowered.

2020 was sent to test us, there were so many things we thought we’d learnt from it – but it was 2021 that was sent to teach us.

Did we really soak in those things we said we were going to from 2020? Because when the next lockdowns hit, it felt even harder this time around.

As we all wrap up work and school for another year, we make plans to hopefully have Christmas with our nearest and dearest (dear Covid DON’T take Christmas from us) we wanted to sit and reflect on the year that was. Some of the lessons we learnt – and relearnt from the year before, some precious moments and some things we’ll take into 2022.

No pressure 2022, but we’re counting on you. (Ps. The bar is already very low, so we really aren’t asking for much.)

So here are some things 2021 taught us….

….About ourselves, our little ones, about parenting and just about life in general.

1. Perfect is overrated

If the last 2 years has taught us anything, it’s that perfect parenting is not only impossible but it’s overrated. By letting our children see we are humans, we are flawed, we fail, we cry, we lose our sh*t sometimes – but that we say sorry, or we pick ourselves up and keep going – that’s where the real magic lies.

2. Slowing down is ok. Actually, it’s great.

The pace that so many of us were keeping pre-pandemic now looking back seems almost farcical.

3. Kids are resilient. Like really resilient.

We get so caught up in trying to teach them things that sometimes we forget they are the ones teaching us.

4. Emotional support is more important than academic support for our little ones. And us.

There is SO much that you just can’t learn in a book or classroom. We learnt that as long as our little ones felt loved and seen they would be ok.

5. Boredom is good

Being forced to stop and slow down. Without places to be and people to see – our littles ones were free to just be little. This is when the magic happens.

6. Work can – and should – be flexible

We’ve been banging on about this one for years – and whilst everyone thought it in 2020 – in 2021 we know it. The world keeps turning when people work from home, when kids run into the back of an important zoom or when they watch a couple of extra episodes of Bluey so you can meet that deadline.

7. Lowering expectations is ok

The lower the better we say. Go easy on yourself because life is hard enough. If those toys are left lying around at night or that washing can get attended to at the end of the week – so be it!

8. Connection is key

This year reminded us that family time is number 1. Being together, connecting and making memories that will last a lifetime. Sometimes it is the simplest of things that can have the biggest impact. Life is short – prioritise fun.

9. We don’t have to have all the answers

We have this need to be everything to everyone – especially our little ones – but who decided that? Our kids need real role models who ask questions and seek answers – not someone pretending to know it all.

10. Surrender

We learnt pretty early on that COVID was in charge and we were just along for the ride. Instead of getting upset every time plans were cancelled or case numbers kept rising, we learnt to surrender. Whether we liked it or not. Accept that you cannot control what you cannot control and instead focus on what you can.

11. Find joy

Stop and smell the roses, get down and play tea parties with your little one – skip baths and take a late-night swim instead! Life is hard, and life in an ever-changing global pandemic is even harder. So when it starts feeling too much – inject some fun.

If we’ve learnt anything these past few years is that mindset truly is everything and finding the silver linings might sound cliche but sometimes it’s all we’ve got.

Your little ones won’t remember case numbers or lockdowns – they’ll remember the time mum cranked up their favourite song and danced on the couch or when dad used to make pancakes in the shapes of dinosaurs for breakfast. They’ll remember the family walks or bike rides around the local park or getting to stay up late to watch a movie and eat ice cream.

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