For most of us, plans for 2020 flew out the window. For me, it meant my career was quite literally cancelled for the year. I cautiously decided to take the opportunity to home school my son, hoping it was the right choice for our family. Spending all day, every day with my son helped me gain insight into what the year had left on his plate. Here are three resolutions, for myself and my family, I plan to carry into 2021.
1. Turn Our Anxiety into Our Advocacy- 2020 definitely took a toll on my son’s confidence. The past nine months found me saying, “Don’t touch anything” and “We need to keep each other safe” on a daily basis. My husband and I noticed my three year old son’s anxiety level increasing. Some days as soon as we put his mask on, he immediately shut down and wanted to go home. We had to stop seeing most people and as the months passed, my son started yelling “Can I say goodbye?” whenever I’m on the phone with anyone. The tipping point was a full blown meltdown when he did not get to say goodbye to a telemarketer last month. After this exchange, I started letting our friends and family know that he wants to say his goodbyes. I started giving him the phone occasionally. I can hear whoever is on the other line smiling through their interaction with him. This year, we’re going to focus on the things that make him, him. I am going to make sure to remind him that there is only one of him. Instead of apologizing for him simply wanting to say goodbye, I’ll give him the tools to manage his understandable anxiety. I will advocate for his perfectly normal impulses and thank him for giving the people on the other end something small to smile about.
2. Spend Daily Hours Outside the Circus Tent- I am lucky that my son loves to learn. He asks me to start school every day. Like many parents, the pandemic found me at a casting call auditioning to fill all the roles in my son’s life. There are so many days that I have felt unfocused and incapable of being mom, teacher, friend, and advocate all at the same time. Some days I’m the star juggler in this circus. Some days, I’m dropping all the balls. Many nights I’ve laid awake at night contemplating the fact that 2020 has been the year of learning how well we can juggle the concepts of life. In 2021, I plan to remind myself daily that no one purchased a ticket to this circus, I was never trained in this kind of balancing act, and that we’re all doing our best to improvise every day. This new year, we’ll spend three hours each day (not always consecutively) focusing inside the circus tent. That’s where I fill the role of his teacher, his school, his friends, and all the roles that I did not fill before the pandemic started. I’ll keep my phone far away and silenced. This way at the end of every day, when the circus animals are all sleeping and the big top is closed, I can rest. Those three hours happened for him, instead of focusing on all the dropped balls.
3. Move It or Lose It. My son is a huge fan of his theatre and dance classes. He was the youngest in his virtual class which worried me, but he magically would hyper-focus on the screen and would live for the moment his teacher yelled “Great Job, Buddy.” He would look at me with a grin that could move mountains. His teacher used brilliant verbal and physical games that helped him focus. They made pizza dough while stretching and collected things from the house to dance with. When the beautiful summer weather hit, we all wanted to be safely outside, or with friends in our bubble. We stopped our class and therefore lost the benefits that movement provided. I realized I missed the smiles that moved mountains and through that, I also realized how much I miss moving myself. As adults, we often focus on the fact that we “should” move without remembering the “why” that was so powerful to us as kids. This year, I vow not to lose out on the benefits we get from moving and remember the boost in mood, confidence, and overall wellness that staying active provides.
I am walking into 2021 with a sense of caution and just a teeny bit more clarity. I feel like much of 2020 was standing still and staying on the defense. Now into 2021, I am very hopeful that these 3 resolutions will help to improve my families’ lives with steps forward.