Updated: Mar 17, 2021
(This post originally appeared on Medium, but given how short it is, I thought I'd include the whole thing here. ~3 min. read)
My son turned eight yesterday, which means it’s been a year. One year of straight-up pandemic living, quarantining, social distancing, and mask-wearing.
Anniversaries are for the good, the bad, and the ugly. I have a wedding anniversary and also an anniversary to celebrate getting sober. I have friends who celebrate becoming cancer-free or finishing chemo. One friend celebrates the day she survived a heart attack.
We’ve made it through one hell of a year, and I think it’s worth celebrating. This past year too many of us lost loved ones or a job, or both. We have been sick, cared for someone who was sick or locked ourselves in the basement because we thought we were sick. This has been a year of waiting and worrying, loss and longing.
We are exhausted, but we made it.
The pandemic isn’t over yet, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. People are getting vaccinated, and with each shot given, we can stress a little less. My parents and I got our shots recently, and it came with extreme relief. The dark days of winter are ending, and spring is here.
Here are five ways you and your family can celebrate your pandemiversary:
Go Tech-Free — feel Zoomed out? I am. I was a remote worker for eight years before COVID, but the past year's virtual demands are something else. If I go more than three hours on video calls, I get a headache. If my kids go more than three hours, they become hellions. Turn the tech off and give yourselves a break. Your brains and bodies need it.
Take a Nap — feel exhausted? You are. Many of us struggled to sleep this year, and even if you crash at the end of each day, you could still be exhausted. Sleep is the magical elixir of mental health. Without it, we are prone to feel sick and be mentally run down. As we all know from experience, lack of sleep makes it hard to learn, work, and function. So, snuggle up and get some shut-eye.
Make a Photo Album of Favorite Moments from This Past Year — feel like every moment this year was hard? It wasn’t. Without a doubt, your family had some good moments, even great ones. These are what helped you make it through. Those moments are worth remembering. No pictures? Sit down with your kids or partner and have everyone write a list of favorite moments—the person with the most wins.
Journal — feel like you should have documented this past year better? No worries. You still can. Journal in whatever way works for you. You can type or handwrite. You can do a long-form, free-form, or answer a set of questions. By reflecting on what’s happened, you’ll gain clarity and perspective (thanks, hindsight) and maybe grow your gratitude.
Have a Party — you made it through a year of a freaking pandemic. You could always do hard things, and this is no exception. Make your favorite dinner, grab your yummiest dessert, pull out family games, and cut yourself some slack. You might feel like a hot mess, but you did amazing.
(My 7-year-old would like to remind you that if you invite people to your party, please social distance and wear masks.)
Let your kids see it’s OK to celebrate making it through tough times. They’ve watched us worry, and they’ve worried themselves. Make this March different from the last. Last March, my son spent his 7th birthday cleaning out his locker, leaving school, and a class he loved. Our lives were upended. We spent the rest of the month in a ball of fear and uncertainty.
We owe it to ourselves and our kids to take some time to reflect on what’s happened, celebrate our strengths, and gear up for what’s ahead.