When we reflect on 2020, it is a year marked with great adversity and loss. Nearly two million people around the world have died from COVID-19. Countries implemented strong lockdowns preventing loved ones from seeing one another. Police brutality sparked global protests for the Black Lives Matter movement. The world also mourned the deaths of major sports icons and leaders.
The disparity of a year like 2020 can prevent us from being optimistic about the upcoming year. Yet in the midst of all the clamor, there were many moments that inspired and moved all of us. From John Krasinski’s “Some Good News” show to cities around the world clapping for healthcare workers, 2020 taught us to value those around us. Communities came together to care for one another.
The greatest lesson 2020 taught us is the importance of family. As a whole, our nation spent more time at home, improving family relationships and bonds.
For the first time since the Great Depression, a majority of young adults are living at home with their parents. The Pew Research Center found that the number of young adults living at home increased from 2.6 million in January to 26.6 million in July. Although young adults moved home for economical reasons, it gave them more time with their families.
Nearly half of elementary schools and high school students in the United States studied virtually instead of returning to the classroom. Although challenging at times, this has provided the opportunity for parents to be a part of their children’s educational journey at a higher level.
With state lockdowns and restrictions, 94% of people said that they ate at home with their families the same amount or more than they did prior to COVID-19. Research indicates that there is a positive correlation between family meals and child adolescent health, including improvements in academic performance, mental health and self-esteem.
Most Americans said their ideal evenings involved family time. In a survey by Gallup, time spent with family ranked number one. For many families, there weren’t activities or sports to interfere with mealtime. Rather, it provided more time at home to improve their family relationships.
Even more so, 2020 taught us to not take time with our family for granted.
Prior to COVID-19, visiting extended family members, particularly grandparents, was not an issue. With older adults at the highest risk, families started to visit one another at a distance or virtually. A study in the United Kingdom found that nearly 69 percent of grandparents had not held their grandbaby that was born during the lockdown. Something that was once normal has become rare due to keeping one another safe.
Due to state or city mandates, we have also been prevented from visiting our family members. Approaching Christmas, with concerns of spreading the virus, many states have issued strict stay-at-home orders. In extreme cases, such as in San Francisco, individuals are not allowed to interact with more than one person who is not from their household. A season often met with great anticipation and family gatherings is now being limited due to the health and safety of those around us.
As we move toward the Christmas holiday and set goals for 2021, let us not forget the significance of prioritizing and investing in our families. This new year, make family time a priority. Take every opportunity that you can to be with your loved ones – whether it’s going on a date with your spouse, playing board games with your family or even getting outdoors. We can’t forget the challenges we encountered in 2020 that prevented us from being with those we love.