Whew. 2020 was something, wasn’t it? A year ago everything was going along as it always does. We stepped into the shoes that make our big right toe hurt every single time we wear them, threw the kids lunches together, and came home to get something somewhat nutritious into the mouths of our families for dinner.
Without thought we attended 5th birthday parties at the Museum of Science, decided spur-of-the-moment to head to the Brewery for dinner, and sat for hours on a sunday afternoon in our living room with family and friends. How could we ever have imagined what was to come?
The isolation-induced-depression that set in for so many of us seemed like it might never lift. We could not even think of what to hope for because it all felt incomprehensible and out of grasp. What a dark, cold, lonely, horrid time for us. Now, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Glory be!
We have all learned important things in 2020. It’s not that we would opt to go through what we have gone through again but we went through what we went through. We can take the lessons we learned and carry them with us to make life better. Here are some of the things I learned from 2020 that I will hang on to.
1. Bulk Grocery Shopping Every Few Weeks is the Way to Go! Pre-pandemic my husband and I were at the grocery store just about every day. We live 5 minutes away from a store we love so there was never any pressure to “not forget an item”. We could change the menu on a whim, didn’t really need to meal plan, and generally didn’t need to think much about running to the store.
After a few trips to the grocery store pandemic style (you know what I am talking about; shopping for 3 weeks at a time, using 2 carts, no talking, making sure we have every single thing on the list), I found myself feeling like I was forgetting to do something in the days that followed. Instead of running to the store for tortilla chips, I ran into my husband’s office for a new bag. When I hollered “Kris, we are out of soup starter and I need it for dinner!” he didn’t need to run to the store, he just brought it to me from our stash. I realized I had more available hours in my week!
Bulk grocery shopping every 2-3 weeks freed up a tremendous amount of time!
It forced me to seriously meal plan (and meal plan meals that everyone likes!) and follow it. The mental space this untangled allowed me to spend time doing other things like gaming with my kids, writing, reading, organizing, or bingeing shows undistractedly. Each week I gratefully went to our wonderful local farm stand for fresh fruits and veggies to supplement the bulk orders. I love our year-round farm stands and going there brings me joy.
Meal planning and bulk grocery shopping are something I am hanging onto because it brings simplicity, time freedom, and eliminates that frigging annoying “whaddaya feel like having for dinner tonight?” conversation every GD night of our lives and we are all grateful for that!
2. Eating Out Costs a Lot of Money! I know we weren’t alone when June rolled around and we found ourselves wondering how our spending had decreased so significantly. Each week I would look at our checking account and credit card statements and marvel. I wanted to figure out where, specifically, we were saving money. I hadn’t realized how much money we were actually spending eating out. So many times we ate out because it was the only thing we could think of to eat. Meal planning changed that need and saved us so much money! Now, even though restaurants here are open and we are comfortable eating at them, we eat almost every meal at home. We prefer the food and it saves us so much money!
3. I am More Comfortable When People Wash Their Hands. Okay, okay. This one seems tongue-in-cheek but as someone with germaphobic tendencies I assure you I am completely serious! Why did we need to emphasize hand hygene so much during this pandemic?! We all know the answer- we’ve seen people not wash their hands when leaving the restroom. Barf! Though I wish Corona had never happened, I am so glad we were giving lessons not only on basic hygene but also to
4. STAY HOME WHEN YOU ARE SICK! Or, At Least Check In.
This has always driven me crazy. I want to be clear, I am not talking about hourly workers who will lose pay and have no choice but to work. How many times we have been at play group, the museum, a homeschool field trip, or dinner with friends and they will casually mention they just got over the flu or stomach bug and aren’t quite back to normal. Or, they will show up hacking and snotty and think it’s a-okay to interact with my family as though they are not sick.
I’m all for building immune systems but you have no idea how sickness affects the lives of others! What if we are going to see my 97 year old grandmother and will need to cancel the visit if we are sick? What if our neighbor is undergoing chemo and we cannot clean her house as planned if we are sick? What if my husband is traveling to the Middle East for a month and it is just me, a toddler, and a baby at home? What if I am an hourly worker for whom missed work means missed meals? What if we just don’t want to get sick?! If you aren’t going to stay home when you are sick, at least check in with the people you are going to spend time with to see if they would like to stay home instead.
I am so glad we have been reminded of basic hygene and staying home while sick!
5. Some People are Noisy. I am not sure why I gained clarity about this particular thing this year, but I did. Note: I too was/am noisy. What do I mean by noisy? I mean the people who yell and scream the same things over and over and can’t pause for even a moment to listen to what anyone else is saying. Their rantings are not based in reality, passion, or fact. For whatever reason, they have latched on to this one particular thing and are gripping it for life. I have experienced this both online and in person.
These are not bad people. They have a useful and legitimate reason they are noisy. Maybe they are scared and don’t know what to do with that. Maybe they have never been listened to. Whatever the reason, noise is noise. I can have compassion for them as a human without letting their noise entice my anxiety.
Recoginzing that some people are noisy is helping me to be more discerning about who I listen to. It helps me ease my anxiety because I realize I should not value everyone’s perspective- some people are just….noisy. I don’t have to respond or be rude. I also do not need to let their claims worry me or rile my fear.
Noisy people are not always loud. They don’t even always speak a lot.
I really want to give some specific examples because I know that is helpful. I think if I do though, it will allow some to dismiss the consideration that some of the people they are listening to are noisy. Meaning, if the example I give promotes your line of thinking, you may think I am not referring to your “side”. I don’t believe in sides, but since that’s the language we are using right now, I will say there are people who are noisy on all “sides”.
Learning to identify and quiet the noise (including myself!) is a super valuable gift I will take from 2020.
2020 has been called a “dumpster fire”, a “shit show”, and been fodder for some of the wittiest jokes around. Though none of us would choose to relive it, we can take what we have learned and bring it forward.
These are 5 lessons I am taking from 2020. What are some of the things you have learned from 2020 that you will take with you? Will you share your insight in the comments? It helps us all!
Thank you so much for reading! Follow Pondering Jen on social or sign up for our newsletter to stay connected!