Last year was a year that none of us saw coming – an absolute doozy and one that in some ways has changed the world forever. For most of us, 2020 was a year of challenges and changes, worry and uncertainty, with a whole lot of extra time spent at home locked down with (or separated) from our nearest and dearest.
COVID-19 introduced us to quarantine culture, we socially distanced and self-isolated, worried about a runny nose, excessively washed and sanitised our hands and learnt a whole new Coronavirus lingo. Our pace of life slowed dramatically, gave us a chance to catch our breath, reflect on what is truly important – like family and health, and to find clarity and delight in the ordinary – such as an evening stroll.
For those of us living in Western Australia, it has taught us to be thankful for where we live. In a global comparison, the bubble we call home has kept us mostly safe, healthy and minimally affected by the global pandemic.
So, what did 2020 teach us? What have we learnt? Here is a light-hearted reflection and look back at the past 12 months that’s been surprising and lifechanging in so many ways:
- We learnt to wash our hands properly.
Maybe we thought we already knew, but let’s be honest, most of us were not washing them as thoroughly or frequently as we should.
- Self-isolating when you feel sick.
It’s ok to stay at home if you have a cough or a sniffle. Quarantining yourself at home so you or others don’t get sick is definitely a new normal that we hope stays around.
- Choosing NOT to shake hands is perfectly acceptable.
Waving at a distance, awkward smiles or weird side steps and elbow bumping became the new normal for greeting other humans and is no longer considered rude or bad manners.
- Health shouldn’t be taken for granted.
Co-morbidities such as asthma, diabetes, hypertension, for instance — make us more vulnerable to complications and death if we contract COVID-19. Age is also not just a number any longer, it’s a statistic and risk factor. We’ve also realised maintaining good mental and physical health is really self-preservation.
- You CAN exercise at home.
Home gym equipment sold out virtually overnight, and we realised that expensive gym memberships and $25 exercise classes can be substituted by online classes and DIY home options. YouTube has an extensive back catalogue of EVERY kind of exercise and there’s also most likely an App for it too.
Family, Friends & Community
- People will act in strange and semi-unpredictable ways when scared.
Yes, this refers to the perplexing toilet paper situation, the rush to fill cars up with petrol when you can’t drive anywhere and the need to stockpile flour and pantry staples that seldom get used at other times.
- A forgotten sense of community.
In a time where many of us don’t even know our neighbours, COVID-19 brought with it an almost forgotten sense of community back to our lives with people pulling together and supporting one another, clapping for healthcare workers, putting out rainbows and teddy bears to entertain children and checking in on the lonely and vulnerable. Let’s hope this sticks around for good.
- You CAN socialise online.
Zoom Parties, House Parties, Team Parties – so many platforms to choose from. Never before have we socialised and shared birthdays, weddings, baby showers and anniversaries online. Happy Hours on the internet with friends meant cheap BYO drinks at home, no Uber charges to get home and no need to dress up!
- A greater appreciation for friends and family.
Not being able to see loved ones for long periods of time has harvested a new sense of appreciation for our nearest and dearest. It has also given simple things like meeting up with friends for a quick mid-week drink, a morning coffee or weekend away more importance when the option is suddenly taken away.
- Wholesome home cooking and baking can become obsessive.
Sourdough bread baking, jam making, sausage making – anything that requires patience, attention and time in the kitchen came back into vogue and was quickly snapped and posted to social media channels. It is definitely NOT for everyone.
- There is a desire for greater self-sufficiency.
Growing your own fruits, vegetables, herbs had a huge surge in popularity, as did what to do with the excess crops. People bought chickens to lay eggs, saved jars to fill with produce, made pesto, jam, chutney, pies, smoothies and banana bread – you get the idea. All very Maggie Beer or Curtis Stone.
- Eating “together” and special celebrations can happen virtually.
We learnt to stay at home yet still connect with friends and family over food while sitting in our respective homes enjoying the same meal, regardless of the distance between us. Old family recipes, traditional dishes or just family favourites can inspire shared memories and connect us over the miles. A socially distanced drive-by and shout out from the car kerbside is also now a thing.
- Buying restaurant cooked meals to eat at home is now a thing.
Forget pizza, fast food and fish & chips, quality restaurant cooked meals from our favourite restaurants – those that never previously offered takeaway or delivery services became a thing.
Working from home and home-schooling
- The ability to work from home (WFH).
We can, we did and we now want to work from home permanently – or at least part of the working week. We’ve proven it to our bosses so why not?
- Home-schooling primary aged children.
A new appreciation for the independent choice to home-school young children PRIOR to 2020. Perplexed to understand why a normal human would do that to themselves?
- Coronavirus also spawned a new language and vocabulary for us to learn. We quickly came to grasp what social distancing, self-isolating, home quarantine and lockdown meant in our new “normal”. Not surprisingly, “lockdown” was named Word of the Year 2020 by Collins Dictionary.
- Technical phrases such as contact tracing, circuit-breakers, comorbidity, herd immunity, and flattening the curve, once the sole property of scientists and geeks, moved into suburbia and became everyday speak.
- Zoom parties, drive thru testing, donut days, and newly “merged” words such as covidiot, covexit, coronials, and coronacut all also deserve a worthy mention 😊
- We learnt to shop online for everything – both out of necessity but also boredom and we got to know our delivery peeps on a first name basis, often seeing them daily – a socially distanced and non-contact delivery of course!