Because, let’s face it, it wasn’t all bad. And looking at the positives is always more fun than dwelling on the negatives.
Here are my 20 good things from 2020:
1. New house
We were fortunate enough to be able to sell our flat and move to a house during the autumn. Something which we’d been trying and failing to do since summer 2019! So I’m very thankful to those who decided they needed more/their own space after living in lockdown with others.
2. New baby
Well not quite yet. Due in May 2021, we are definitely having a lockdown baby. A little silver lining to come out of the pandemic!
3. Watching my toddler grow
For all the stress, anxiety and other issues that lockdown brought, it was beautiful to be able to watch my toddler grow at a time where, sans pandemic, I would otherwise have never been able to. Still growing and learning and surprising me every day, I am thankful for this glimpse into his life that in any other circumstance would only have witnessed and experienced by a nursery teacher.
4. Reigniting my passion for reading
One thing that I rediscovered after copious amounts of time at home was my love for reading. As a child I think I read most of the books in the library and that slowly dwindled as I grew up and eventually it withered to a couple of books a year as a parent. 2020 was the year I reignited this passion, joined a book club and found enjoyment in reading again.
5. Exploring on our doorstep
It may be an old cliche but it’s certainly true what they say – it’s so easy to take for granted all the things you have on your doorstep. We are extremely fortunate to live within walking distance of a national park, with plenty of local blue and green space around us. Whether it’s trails, walks, playparks or beaches, we have learned to appreciate and explore everything on our doorstep before moving futher afield.
6. Discovering and supporting local businesses
Similarly, I normally wouldn’t have had the chance to support a lot of local businesses as my office (remember that place?!) is almost an hour from home, so things like local butchers, cafes and shops would often be closed on a Sunday when I would have the time to explore and shop. In 2020 I got to explore and support numerous local businesses on my doorstep, normally taking a walk on my lunchbreak.
7. Squeezed a hen do in before lockdown
It’s hard to remember but there were days in 2020 that weren’t spent at the mercy of coronavirus. We had planned to get married in April 2020 (literally 10 days after lockdown was announced) and so I was fortunate enough that I managed to have my hen do before the lockdown, meaning I got to see lots of friends and family before we weren’t allowed to mix in big groups.
8. Spent less on petrol & travel
My daily commute to work alone seen me spend around £150 on petrol a month, so it has been nice to make a significant saving on this – one which still stacks up compared to the extra electricity used working from home. Plus, with restrictions in place, we saved on travel costs for weekend trips and adventures as we explored and created our own adventures closer to home.
9. More time to cook
With a horrific rush hour commute, I never used to have time to cook properly except at the weekends. By being two steps from the kitchen when I finish work, it has been nice to be able to cook a wider variety of meals and try new things.
10. Exercising at home
I definitely need the motivation and collective positivity of group exercise classes, but there’s no denying it’s much easier to do those tricky yoga poses knowing you can fart without anyone hearing you – as long as you remember to mute!
11. Finding comfort in running
I was never much of a runner, but when they shut the gyms and we lived in a flat where there wasn’t much room to swing a cat, it was comforting and freeing to be able to get outdoors and just run. I found it to be a great stress reliever and half an hour escape from everything else happening in the world.
12. Spending quality time as a family
Restrictions on freedom of movement, the closure of attractions and no early years learning open, forced us to look at how we spend time together as a family and what we could do in those precious hours. Whilst there’s no denying that nurseries reopening has been a godsend, and I welcome the days soft play can reopen, I really appreciate the extra time we got to spend together as a family.
13. Play dates with friends (socially distanced!)
Before coronavirus, my friends worked different patterns to me and unless it was a child’s birthday or planned well in advance, there was slim chance of a play date with our kids. Since the summer, there has been little else to do except meet up with friends in parks to let the kids play while catching up outdoors – although this was much warmer and more relaxing in July than in December.
14. Using all the toys and gifts
As the first grandchild on both sides, our little man has been pretty spoiled in the first couple of years of his life. We have received gifts which we weren’t always able to use (for example clothes that he grew out of faster than he could wear them all) or so many toys that there were never enough hours in the day to play with them all properly. With more time at home and much less else to do, we made use of all the different toys, games and puzzles we had been given.
15. Appreciating my squad
You never fully appreciate the amazing people in your life until something major happens. Between lockdowns, cancelled weddings, mental health crises and house moves, plenty of major activity happened in 2020, and my squad turned up for it all. I have never been more grateful for my friends and family as I have in the past year.
16. Seeking help
A weird one to put down as a good moment of the year, but as someone who always felt independent and self-sufficient, seeking help for anything has barely ever crossed my mind. Even in the tough times I felt it my own responsibility to shoulder all the burden and not put anything on anyone else. But I cannot emphasise enough how great it felt to finally accept that I couldn’t do it all and seek help.
17. Re-evaluating routines and what works
Something that stemmed from seeking help and working through therapy, an assessment of routines and what works for me has made all the difference to life. Some routines may work in some settings but not others and everyone’s idea of routine is different. But re-evaluating what and how to form a good routine in the “new-normal” was a major gamechanger in 2020.
18. Scotland’s bid to end period poverty
Whilst I can’t claim any part in this, I am proud that the elected representatives in my country chose to vote to make period products free for all in November 2020, making Scotland the first country in the world to do this. Whilst Westminster plays catch up and claimed Brexit helped them abolish tampon tax in January 2021, Scotland got rid of the cost altogether two months before.
19. I finally listened to a podcast
In the culture stakes, I had been keeping it very old school by just about using streaming services like Netflix and Spotify for my TV and music fixes. Podcasts seemed another world, one which I wasn’t sure I belonged in, but as it turned out it’s like regularly meeting up with a group of friends you can’t speak to – how very 2020.
20. The Scottish Men’s Team finally qualifying for a tournament
This is something I’ve not seen since I was 9. A sheer joy for our boys to qualify for the Euros – we’ll ignore the fact it should have been Euro 2020 and covid has pushed it back a year, and we absolutely got there the hard way on penalties. Finally we can support our own team instead of anyone the England team plays (ironically, that will be us anyway!)