Yes, I know we still have 25% of the year to go, but at the same time, it feels like the first three quarters of this year flew by. I’ve been reflecting on the big and small things I’ve learned this year. Some learnings were relational, some helped me be a better friend and mom, and some simply allowed me to slow down. In no particular order, here are 10 things I learned in 2021.
1 | Laundry service is a game-changer.
A first world expense? Maybe, but I’d rather send my laundry out for less than $40 a week instead of trying to find a therapist. Because it’s been that helpful to my mental health since I started using Hampr. I’ve been using the service for several weeks now, and in that time our daycare shut down, my kids transitioned to two different schools, my daughter was quarantined, and my husband had major surgery. Not spending my Friday night and Saturday morning washing clothes—no brainer. Bonus is that I’m supporting other moms who want to help provide for their families.
2 | Tech-free vacations are the best vacations.
We stayed in a remote cabin over the Fourth of July. No Wi-Fi. No cell service. My screen time averaged 1 minute a day for the time we were there. I didn’t miss anything, and I came home rejuvenated. I looked my kids in the eyes a lot more, and I only used my phone to take occasional photos. Glorious.
3 | Childcare infrastructure needs a MAJOR reorganization.
I’m exhausted from the quarantines and the school shutdowns (luckily we’re healthy), and when this happens (STILL!) it’s such a juggling act for working moms. Don’t take it from me though, here’s what the NYT had to say about it. It makes sense that I can’t seem to get a backup care nanny through my normal channels anymore on those odd holidays or school shutdowns and why childcare at our places of worship are short-staffed.
4 | Pizza night on Friday is the best meal planning I do all week.
- Family tradition and a routine the kids look forward to—check.
- A light lift when the week has worn me down—check.
- Very little cleanup—check.
Everyone is happy, and it’s one less meal to think of. Taco Tuesday, you’re a close second.
5 | Maybe, just maybe, I actually need to buy snow clothes for my kids.
February 15th, I’m looking at you. The snow was fun, but we lasted all of 10 minutes because my kids have nothing warm in their closets—no snow boots and no waterproof gloves. But what do you do in Texas? Maybe I’ll order something from Amazon and keep the tags on just in case this year is a repeat…
6 | We are nothing without our tribe, and it is perfectly okay to accept help.
That surgery my husband had… I figured I could easily order food delivery and make it through just fine. But, with huge work deliverables, managing both kids’ pick-ups and drop-offs at their different schools, and caring for my husband, I struggled. Did I mention the severe lack of sleep? My friends and neighbors surrounded us with meals, helped equip my husband and meet his needs, hosted play dates to get us out of the house so he could rest, and helped me navigate a week of taking care of the three of them.
7 | Kids will always develop at their own pace so don’t force them to speed up or slow down.
I learned this over and over with our first child. But, here we are three years later and I picked a date when I thought it made sense to potty train our second. Naturally, on a road trip months before that, when we were completely unprepared, he decided that rest stop bathrooms on I-35 are where he wanted to start. And away we went. My kids constantly remind me not to worry if they’ll meet milestones. They will get there when they get there—not too early and not too late, so stop over-engineering.
8 | Double click.
We’re inundated with too much information on too many topics that are unique and often stressful. Vaccines, masks, specific aspects of education, and so many more have been polarizing our society recently. You do you, and I’ll do the same. I’m fine if we agree to disagree, but let’s all pursue the truth, and all of it—not a soundbite, not a headline from a post from a friend we haven’t seen in ten years, and not repeated and misunderstood conversation in a game of telephone.
9 | Haters gonna hate.
If someone has wounded me through narcissist behavior and left me wondering why I was gaslighted and thinking I was crazy, they’re doing the same thing to others, too. It’s not me. While I don’t wish ill on anyone, it helps when you find out you’re not the crazy one.
10 | We are all in this together.
Mama, it’s a wild ride. I’m thankful for all the moms in my tribe who keep me confident that we are all in this together—through the bad and the good. The Facebook support groups, the mom group texts, the class GroupMe chats, the caregiver Employee Resource Groups at work, I see you and I’m grateful. From online learning to recipe sharing to the “me too!” moments over a silly mom meme, let’s continue to lift one another up.
Can you relate?
Let me know in the comments if you had any similar thoughts this year or what you have been learning.