2020: The Year of Focus

20/20. When things are in focus and you can see clearly — I know it’s actually more complicated than that, but for us, this year really has been a year of focus. Because of the shakeup in our world and in our daily routines, we, like so many of our friends and neighbors, were forced to ask ourselves hard questions about what was really important: What could we keep? What could we let go of? What could we change or work around? What was essential?

Just like Maslow’s hierarchy, when things get shaken up, you start with the basics:

  • Do we have enough food?
  • Can we make good choices and protect ourselves (and others) to stay healthy?
  • Is my job stable? How can I make it work or make ends meet in this current crisis?

And then those questions get answered – we find ways to make sure our basic needs and those of our families are met, we breathe a sigh of relief, and then move up the pyramid, so to speak:

  • Are my kids and community members ok?
  • Who needs help? Where can we lend a helping hand?
  • What about a daily routine? Exercise, fresh air, and other healthy habits that will be good for us both physically and mentally. For us, that meant (almost) daily walks around the block, scheduling outside time in the middle of the day, and mental breaks.

When things are overwhelming and there are simply too many details and commitments, how can we simplify? Not creating more work in the meantime…. and if saying “no” feels too long, call it a “break” or a “gap year”.

With homeschooling (and parenting in general), it means choosing a few things and doing them well, rather than doing all the things. It means narrowing our social circle to just a few relationships that we can maintain on a regular basis, rather than trying to keep up with everyone. For us, it meant letting go of homeschool co-op and our foreign language school.

It means prioritizing mental health, family dynamics and connection. If my kids were asked my quote of 2020, it would probably be “kindness first”. That’s how we treat each other and prioritize the well-being of our little microcosm.

In essence, 2020 has been an exercise in triage – in throwing our hands up in the air, stopping juggling all of the things, and then picking them back up, one at a time, as we are able. It’s been about doing the next, most important thing, and when that need is satisfied or no longer so urgent, moving beyond that.

Whenever the lie that we need to do “all the things”, or about how much we’re missing out on, threatens to creep into my head, I remember my great-grandma. She was born in a sod hut in rural Nebraska, and for the first few winters of her life, she and her family were snowed in for weeks or months on end, cut off from the world around them. They had very little sense of world events, connections with anyone outside the immediate family, or gadgets and toys, and yet she lived a rich life.

If she could live well in spite of (or perhaps because of) extreme circumstances, so can we.

This post has been part of a blog hop by Hoagies Gifted. Check out the rest here!

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