Coronavirus has changed all our lives, but there are some positives (honestly!) to have come out of it, too
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It's fair to say that 2020 has been one of the most challenging years many – if not all – of us can remember.
The coronavirus pandemic has killed thousands of people and left many more grieving.
Then there's the financial hardship that comes with mass job losses and the many industries decimated by the lockdown restrictions.
COVID-19 has changed us all, perhaps irrevocably.
So far, so bleak.
But there are some silver linings in the black cloud that is coronavirus ... here's our round-up of the 17 good things (some serious, some silly) that coronavirus has delivered to parents.
If someone had told us a year ago what 2020 had up its sleeve and asked us if we could cope, we'd probably have responded with a hard no and run for the hills screaming.
Turns out though, we parents are actually a pretty resilient bunch with reserves of inner strength that we never knew existed.
Dealing with lockdown, homeschooling, health anxiety, job insecurities, worries about food shortages, the stress of trying to get coronavirus tests and not to mention a serious loo roll shortage has not been fun, obviously.
But hooray for us.
Our gin consumption may have gone up but, for the most part, we've taken everything thrown at us and not crumbled.
The daily grind can seriously interfere with quality family time, so when the school run and our daily commute magically disappeared back in March, many of us actually had more free time than we expected.
Time that could be spent bonding with our kids.
Ok, we know it wasn't all hearts and flowers, and by the end of lockdown many of us were gagging for a bit of space for some me time, but you have to admit that it was a real delight to reconnect again?
Anyone else enjoy spending a whole evening doing puzzles, without worrying about getting PE kits washed for the morning or whether the 7.13 train would be delayed, again?
Of course we know this isn't true for everyone, but lots of people found lockdown meant their bank accounts now look a little bit healthier than expected.
Fewer trips to the shops meant fewer impulse purchases, no opportunities to pop to our fave restaurant for dinner meant we saved on going out and our petrol and travel bills plummeted, too.
Before lockdown, the thought of no trips to the playground, the cinema, a restaurant or swimming pool would have horrified many of us. Hands up who usually spent our weekends ferrying the kids from activity to activity?
Turns out, when it's all taken away, they're just as happy watching a movie at home, creating something incredible with Lego or making a rainbow picture to hang in the window.
This reminder of life's simple pleasures has been marvellous.
Social media gets a bad rap but those witty souls who've created some downright hilarious videos and memes during 2020 deserve a pat on the back.
Celebs even get involved, as we saw when Reese Witherspoon's meme went virala while ago.
Here is one of our coronavirus-themed favourites.
Ignoring the fights over pasta and flour that we saw at the very start of the pandemic, the virus really has brought out the best in many communities.
Families have been helping vulnerable neighbours, we've rediscovered our love for the NHS and – who could forget – there has been some incredible fundraising efforts from people such as Captain Tom and the amazing Tony Hudgell, who we wrote about earlier this year.
As soon as lockdown hit, so did banana bread mania.
Instagram started to fill up with pictures of everyone's best banana bread efforts – and as recently as this week, new variations on the recipe are going still viral ... 60-second banana dough balls anyone?
FWIW, our fave banana bread recipeinvolves the addition of chocolate.
It just makes everything better, don't you think?
Don't get us wrong, we've always known teachers do an amazing job, but until we attempted to get to grips with Year 4 maths ourselves, we really had no idea just how amazing they all are – particularly as they can't go in the garden and cry or crack open a bottle of wine when it all gets a bit much.
The vast majority of teachers carried on working throughout lockdown, too, teaching the kids of key workers and sorting our reams of homeschooling, while also worrying about their own families.
Anyone who worked from home before the pandemic will be used to the 'jokes' about spending all day watching daytime TV.
The pandemic has changed all that, and taught all the naysayers that, actually, working from home is possible for SO many professions. It doesn't mean everyone is skiving and it does mean a better work life balance.
If this means that more companies are open to flexible working in the future, this can only be a good thing for parents.
These days, workwear consists of whatever tops are clean, PJ bottoms, dry shampoo and a bit of lippy applied just before a Zoom call.
And we couldn't be happier.
Of course, it is nice to get dressed up from time to time, but we do NOT miss the plucking, tinting, blow drying and straightening that used to be a daily event and is now, if we're honest, more of a monthly treat.
Going to the post office to pick up a parcel used to be a weekly event – there was NEVER anyone in to sign for our latest ASOS haul.
Although we aren't buying new dresses for work nights out at the mo, when we are ordering online, chances are we will be at home when it turns up.
The Post Office queue is one pre-lockdown trip out we're certainly not missing.
Pre-pandemic, we used to feel slightly guilty about spending time slumped on the sofa binge-watching our fave shows. There was always that nagging feeling we should be making more of an effort to go out, see friends, have a date night or do some exercise.
Now, we can merrily binge five hours of Netflix once the kids are asleep and there is absolutely nothing to feel guilty about.
When kids are little, particularly when they start school, every weekend seems to be taken up by children's birthday parties – sometimes more than one in a day!
Community halls full of screaming children racing around and shovelling sweets down their throats. Oh, what fun!
While it's lovely to see our kids having fun with their friends, there are only so many discos and renditions of Baby Shark any parent can cope with, so the fact we haven't had to do this for months has been something of a relief.
That said, we will be pleased when we can celebrate properly again, of course, even if that does mean burst ear drums and a post-party sugar high.
Juggling childcare and work during the school holidays used to fill us with dread every year.
Having done six whole months of school closures, with everything else closed too, six weeks will seem like a long weekend!
Go on, admit it. You might have missed seeing your friends at drop off and pick up, but you didn't miss the school gate politics during lockdown.
No whispering groups, no bitchy messages on WhatsApp to contend with, and while we're on the subject no standing around in the pouring rain waiting for the kids to come out, either.
I suppose you could say we've had nothing but homework during lockdown, but at least we haven't had to suddenly fashion an Anglo Saxon village out of kitchen roll tubes and cereal boxes – with just 12 hours' notice from our little darling, natch.
And that has been a wonderful thing.
Similarly, we've not been forced to look at the elaborate creations of other kids that were so obviously done by the parents and only ever made us feel inadequate.
Never have we been more grateful for our homes, our families, our friends.
Not seeing extended family for long periods of time over lockdown just made the times we do see them seem more precious, and we promise to never moan about the in-laws again!
There's nothing quite like a nationwide lockdown thanks to a global pandemic for helping you realise what really matters in life.
How To Talk So Little Kids Will Listen: A Survival Guide to Life with Children Ages 2-7 is a must-read for all parents and might help you get through a second lockdown! See more details here at Amazon.
CHAT: how have you stayed positive during the pandemic?