For weeks I have been trying to decide if I was even going to write this post.
I have written a similar post for the past 3 years, since I’ve had this blog.
But of course, 2020 was different. Way different!
I would just like to move on and forget it. But that isn’t helpful for the future. That doesn’t help me grow and learn.
So today, I’m gonna review 2020: what went right, what went wrong and what we learned for the future.
2020: What went right
1. We moved!
Even though 2020 was very hard and frustrating, it wasn’t all bad.
The big thing that happened to us in 2020 was that we sold our house in the country and moved to town. That happened in March, just as the pandemic was blowing up.
So we moved from our 3000 square foot home on 4 acres to a 2000 square foot home on a city lot. It was a big change.
Why did we do this? Mostly for budget reasons. We had 3 high school boys last year, one of which graduated in 2020. So we needed to get our finances in order to help them thru college in the next few years. My husband also started another MBA program in the fall, so we are paying for that too.
So we moved into town to live under our means and leave extra money for college and other expenses. It’s kinda a bummer to not have the space for our homestead we had before, but we are making it work.
2. Started a new garden
We moved the water trough garden we had at our old house to the new one. It worked out really well, and the garden was a bright spot in an otherwise dreary summer.
We grew carrots, tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, and lots of different kinds of peppers. We ate most of them fresh and froze the rest.
3. Focus on food security
As you know, food became scarce this year. Going to the grocery store became a major hassle and some of the shelves were empty of certain items. We are still having this issue in our little town, even now.
So our family became even more focused on food security and making sure we could feed our family for months, even if we couldn’t go to the grocery store.
I wrote this blog post last year that explains more about what we did to ensure our own food security.
4. Focus on health
We continued our focus on health that we started in 2019. Mostly a stricter diet and more exercise.
We spent a lot of time hiking and camping as a family for exercise. The mountains were a great place to go to escape the pandemic.
I also participated in the 75 Hard Challenge this fall to get me more focused on my goals.
5. We got our budget under control
We sold our house to pay off debt and get our budget under control. So we wanted to make sure that we didn’t incur new debt once we moved.
We use the YNAB app for monthly budgeting and as a digital check register. We paid off all of our credit cards and are working on knocking out the rest of the debt (car, RV, student loans, house) as fast as possible.
It’s so exciting to have money left at the end of the month to use on things we want/need or to pay off more debt. I definitely suggest living below your means if possible.
6. More family time
Because of the pandemic, we spent many weeks in quarantine at home with our boys. And while I explain below why that wasn’t always a good thing, it did have a good side as well.
We have teenagers and in a normal school week, we may see them an hour a day at home during waking hours. They are busy with school, homework, sports and other activities.
This pandemic brought us together physically like we would not normally be in this stage of life. We played games, put together puzzles, watched movies, went camping and hiking together. And (most of the time) it was great!
2020: What went wrong
1. The pandemic wreaked havoc
Obviously, the Coronavirus has rocked everyone’s world and it isn’t over yet. Luckily, our family got mild cases of the virus towards the end of the year. Nothing more serious than the cold or flu.
But my husband works in healthcare and 2020 was crazy for him. Not to mention the whole wearing masks and social distancing thing.
We were quarantined several times during the year and the kids went to online school at the end of spring and the end of fall. It was tough.
2. We missed out on family trips and milestones
Because of the virus, our family missed out on many milestones we have been looking forward to for years.
My oldest son graduated from high school with a drive by ceremony that none of our extended family could attend. He also missed track season, prom and all of the other senior activities that happen in the spring.
My middle son had his school play cancelled and my youngest son had his baseball season cancelled. Not to mention going to school online, which they hated.
We cancelled several family trips and my husband had his work leave taken away for several months.
And my oldest went off to college, where there were no incoming freshman activities, mostly online classes, mask mandates and when he went to class he had to sit 2 seats apart from other students. Not a great environment to make new friends!
So just like everyone else, we spent lots of time at home and with our immediate family. That’s not all bad, but it can get old. Especially with teenagers that are used to having their freedom.
3. We used our food storage
I have been a food storage fanatic for years, but I never thought I would have to use my food storage at home for weeks during a pandemic.
We consumed some of it before we moved and then the rest came with us. We used it when we didn’t want to go to the store or when the store was out of certain things.
By using our food storage, we learned where the holes were in it and what we need to stock more of in the future. These were great lessons that you can’t really learn unless you are in the trenches of a pandemic.
4. Frustration and depression snuck up on me
I love being at home. I love being at home with my children. I hope that our home is a safe place from them, away from the rest of the world.
But being at home for weeks on end sucks. There’s no other way to put it.
And like many people in 2020, frustration and depression started to sink in. I had a hard time staying on a diet. I worried constantly about the world and how the Coronavirus would affect my family and their activities.
There’s no way to sugar coat it. It was hard.
I didn’t think I was a social person until I was cut off from society. Then I realized how much I needed interaction from those outside my family.
I feel for those people that had to quarantine alone. I hope we don’t have to do that again. Ever.
2020: What we learned for the future
1. Food security is huge
I’ve always been a big proponent of emergency preparedness, but this pandemic has opened my eyes to our food security in this country.
In 2020, we had lockdowns, protests and weather that all affected how food gets delivered to the grocery stores in our community.
We need to have adequate food at home for our families and we need to know how to grow food and source local food as well.
I will be focusing more on this in 2021 because it is basically why I became a homesteader years ago. Food safety and security are essential to health and happiness.
2. Only grow food you like and will eat
Our garden did great this year, but I didn’t maximize my harvest like I should have.
Much of the things I grew aren’t my family’s favorites. Zucchini grows like a weed, but you can get tired of it pretty quickly. And because it grows so well, your friends probably don’t need it either.
So I had lots of zucchini that went bad on the counter because I kept thinking “we’ll eat it soon” and we never did. Therefore, I will not be growing zucchini next year. If I need some, I have plenty of friends growing it. I can get it from them or the farmers market.
3. Living below your means is freeing
I mentioned this above, but it’s worth stating here again. Living below your means is freeing.
We are taught in America to buy as much (or more) than you can afford. Get the biggest house, the best car, or go on the best vacations you can afford. Use credit to make up the difference. After all, “Life is short”.
But we have found this year that if you live below your means you can live in peace. You don’t have to worry about credit card debt or living paycheck to paycheck.
You have extra money to do things like help kids pay for college (he took out loans too) or go on a reasonable vacation.
The stress and worry of living beyond your means is actually shortening your life. So while I miss my house and 4 acres, I am happy. Happy in my smaller house in town with the smaller mortgage.
And when we pay off that mortgage in a few years, I’ll be even happier.
4. Protecting your sanity is key
I also learned in 2020 that you have to protect your sanity. Pay attention to what you are allowing in your life. You choose what influences you. Don’t let other people choose for you.
Here are a few things I did in 2020 to protect my sanity:
- Stopped watching the news
- Limited social media
- Unfollowed social media accounts that stressed me out
- Spent more time in the mountains, enjoying nature
- Limit toxic people in my life
- Use exercise for stress relief
It’s your life. You decide who you spend time with and who you listen to for opinions and advice. Just because everyone is yelling at you doesn’t mean you have to listen. It’s your choice.
2020 was a big year, and one we aren’t likely to forget. But as with everything else, it wasn’t all bad.
If you are reading this and you lost a loved one to Coronavirus, my heart goes out to you. I know it isn’t fair and there’s nothing I can say to make it any better.
Just because I’ve chosen to look at the good as well as the bad doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten how many people got sick or lost their lives to this virus. I just have to make sense of it for me and my family.
That is how we move on. And we have to move on.
Next week, I will talk about my goals for 2021 and what’s coming up for this blog. Until then, Happy New Year!