10 Things Families Resolve To Do More of in 2021

Families masked up and headed outdoors in 2020.
Families masked up and headed outdoors in 2020.
12/29/20 - By Rose Gordon Sala

Families are certainly ready to say goodbye to 2020, a year full of heartache, loss, and struggle for so many of us. With schools and daycares closed, parents were particularly burdened in a difficult year.

But it wasn’t all bad, of course. We continued to find moments of light and yes, silver linings within a painful global pandemic and all that came with it. We asked our readers and staff what they learned or gained in 2020 and what they resolve to continue doing into the new year, here’s what they said.


1. We’re going to schedule less.

In a year of forced cancelations, many of us found the chance to carve out more downtime as a family. There were fewer birthday parties to attend, fewer after-school extracurriculars to dash off to, fewer people to hang out with, fewer places to go ... just fewer obligations overall—and we liked it. It’s hard to imagine going back to those nonstop weekends crammed with parties, practices, and playdates, or remembering how we managed to return home from work/school, make dinner, attend several meets/practices, and still finish homework. We plan to CHILL a whole lot more in 2021.

2. We're keeping playtime basic.

With playdates on hold and fancy play spaces with mega slides closed, playtime went back to basics. Kids learned how to play classic outdoor games like Red Rover, driveway kickball, jump rope, and hopscotch. Many kids learned to ride a bike for the first time during the slow stay-at-home periods of the pandemic. Others found the time to learn new hobbies, such as ice skating, skateboarding, or skiing. Indoors, we dug out old board games, bins of Legos, and built all manner of forts for rainy days.

3. We're planning to continue doing all the outdoor things.

With indoor spots shuttered for months in many places and the experts warning that the virus spreads easily indoors, we went outside ... in droves. We did all the hikes, all the camping, and all the outdoor sports. We walked (in masks) when a drive would have been easier—and we’re vowing to do more of it in 2021!

RELATED: Stay-at-Home Guide: 100s of Activities for Kids

4. We’re not doing all the chores ourselves.

With everyone home ALL OF THE TIME, parents were suddenly tasked with round-the-clock cleaning. There was no way to keep up, and there was all that aforementioned downtime, so we enlisted the kids in a heck of a lot more chores. Tots are tidying the toy bins, grade-schoolers are feeding the pandemic pup, tweens are mopping and vacuuming, and teens (if we’re lucky) are serving us dinner. Check out this chore chart to make this your 2021 family resolution.

5. We're letting the kids figure it out.

Many families told us that their kids developed a more independent streak over the year, and we are so here for this trend. Whether it was a product of overwhelmed parents being unavailable for hovering while they try to balance work, homeschool, caregiving, and all the other stress of the year, or just the result of kids finding they had extra time, it’s not a bad outcome for 2020. Let’s foster that independence going forward into 2021. Check out our list of life skills for more ideas, or just try waiting a beat (or two) before swooping in to help.

6. We’re planning on cooking even more.

I’m going to go ahead and admit that I am feeling resolution No. 7 more than this one as I am all cooked out, but a lot of you disagree, so here we are. We baked and cooked up a storm over the last year. It went way beyond sourdough. We treated ourselves to rock candy science experiments, churned out homemade butter, and indulged in hot chocolate bombs. Many of us taught our kids a few kitchen tricks, too, from toasting their own Pop-Tarts to shaking up mocktails and even whipping up one-pot meals for family dinner.

RELATED: 12 Ideas for Celebrating New Year's Eve with Kids

7. We’re not ever going to abandon delivery.

Staying home meant turning to all manner of delivery services to procure the supplies for a busy household. We learned to love curbside pickup for everything, from library books to the week’s groceries. The nation ordered so much from online retailers in 2020 that we broke records. It’s convenient, and worth every extra cent in my opinion. Plus, it allowed us to maximize social distancing, putting fewer people inside the stores at one time. (Please remember to tip generously for this convenience.) 

8. We’re embracing our local communities even more. 

It wasn’t just the big box stores that we ordered from either (although you will find me at the Target Drive Up way too much lately). We visited our local bookstores for curbside browsing and signed up for the milkman and CSA delivery services, too. We embraced volunteering in our communities, chalked schoolmates' walks for birthdays, and cheered on neighbors in big and small ways. The relationship to the town or area that you sheltered in place with is likely either headed for divorce or found its roots dug in deep for the foreseeable future. 

9. We’re reconnecting with good friends and family. 

As our social circles rapidly shrank in March, many of us found we also started to foster stronger relationships with those we truly care about. We are picking up the phone to call Mom more, teaching kids to write letters to their grandparents, and enjoying much, much smaller get-togethers with just a couple of close friends or neighbors. Those smaller circles may be forced on us for many months more as the vaccine rollout continues, but some families might also find they prefer the smaller pod even when the masks come down.

10. We’re lowering our expectations ... for everything.

Whether it’s the latest mess the kids have created, the 699th return-to-school plan you’ve had to listen to, or just the local holiday lights drive-thru, many of us are learning to lower our expectations. In this impossible situation of a year, it’s hard to win at anything, so many of us are finding happiness in just letting it all go and breathing in the small moments. "We learned not to plan anything too far in advance and to have modest expectations of things, often being happily surprised that 'it still was fun,'" one reader told us. Well said.

So let's mask up and march into 2021, resolving to bring with us a few new skills, habits, and a whole lot of perspective.