Hey Parents: You Might Not Feel Motivated for a Fresh Start in 2021—and That's More Than OK
It's 2021 and, well, things sort of feel the same. If anything, they actually feel a little sadder post-holidays. But we're still living amid a pandemic, so don't feel bad for not making any big goals this year. Honestly, just getting through the day is more than enough.
I usually feel energized and excited for the first Monday after holiday break, ready to wear some of the new clothes I got for Christmas and focused on meeting the goals I set for myself. But this morning my toddler randomly woke up at 4:50 a.m. and wouldn’t go back to sleep, so we’ve all been up since before the sun—but not to take a new exercise class or meditate or shower early to get a jump-start on the day. Any hope I had of starting the first work week of 2021 off on a positive note was pretty much thwarted before I could even brush my teeth.
In reality, things look pretty much the same today as they did for much of 2020. I’m still working from home, wearing my "day leggings" because that’s all that feels comfortable during this second pregnancy and because, let's be honest, being pregnant during a pandemic means I really can't go anywhere. My husband's still holed up in another room working. My 2-year-old is thankfully at daycare, only much more tired and cranky. We've got no plans or playdates coming up. The biggest difference today? It feels like there's a little less to look forward to.
Over the holidays it felt like time didn’t exist and there was this sense of joy and anticipation—of turning on the Christmas lights every evening, of Santa's big arrival, of New Year’s Eve and the end of 2020. But now it’s the first full week of 2021 and things just sort of feel the same. Minus all that holiday magic.
I'm usually not this negative. And trust me, I really did spend New Year’s Eve thinking about all of the things for which I’m grateful. I do feel lucky for being able to work from home, for spending so much more time with my family, for a second baby finally on the way. But my one sour sip of champagne topped with seeing an empty Times Square as the clock struck midnight just felt… sad. And like a sign of things to come.
And I know I'm not alone in feeling so deflated. January 3 felt like the Sunday Scaries were in overdrive for so many parents, gearing up for more virtual learning, more hustling, more struggling to make ends meet and keep their families healthy.
I see all these people rocking workout clothes and ready to tackle their resolutions and feel so happy for them, but I'm just not there right now—and it's OK if you're not either. No, I don't have the stress of remote school or lost wages, but I do have pregnancy sciatica that's nearly bringing me to tears, solo prenatal appointments, constant anxiety about my family staying safe, and sadness over all the things I'm not getting to experience with my son because of COVID-19.
There's no vacation on the horizon. Only the hope of enough people getting vaccinated and life returning back to normal sooner rather than later. Millions of Americans have gotten sick and over 350,000 have died, and now we're staring down the start of winter and bracing as cases continue to rise. It's hard to think about a fresh start and big changes when, in reality, things are going to look this way for a while.
We're all dealing with something. For some, focusing on resolutions and staying positive is a much-needed boost. But if you're like me and exhausted at the thought of any added pressure, it's also OK to just be. To find small moments of peace and happiness rather than setting any bigger expectations for what's supposed to happen.
Maybe tomorrow I'll put on my “fancy” faux leather maternity leggings for a little upgrade or squeeze in a prenatal workout to help stretch my sore body, but today I'm just going to focus on getting my work done and making my son smile when I pick him up from daycare. I'm lowering the bar and just going to survive. And you know what? That feels like more than enough.