20 Parenting Lessons Learned in 2020

By Stephanie Thomas


Let’s take a stroll down 2020 memory lane, shall we? Things started out normal enough—with dreams, goals, and plans—then quickly devolved into a year where we all laughed at memes to keep from crying. 

There was the global pandemic, of course. But also the racial reckoning, crazy weather patterns, and a tense presidential election. It was enough to make even the cheeriest among us feel a little batty. 

Still, we all learned a few things along the way. As parents, we’ve spent 2020 in the trenches. And we’re heading into 2021 all the stronger for it. 

So let’s review the top 20 things we learned in 2020 that we can take with us into the new year.

20 Parenting Lessons Learned in 2020 

1. Parents can do anything. We worked, schooled, and managed the fragile emotions of both ourselves and our little ones. We struggled, sure. But we also survived.

2. Kids are resilient. 2020 brought lots of new requirements for children. With help, they found new ways to express themselves, have fun, and respect the rules. 

3. We all need time alone. Yes, even extroverts. Time away allows parents and kids alike to relax and be creative without the interference and opinions of others. 

4. Every moment can’t be magical. Mid-march we were Pinterest Parents. Eventually, we accepted the role of Pandemic Parent. In other words, some days will be exciting and full of purpose, while others will be boring and dull. And both are just fine. 

5. It’s okay to prioritize yourself. When COVID hit, we did what we needed to do to get by. Eventually, though, we recognized that we need to do at least one small thing for ourselves each day in order to be able to better care for others. 

6. Little moments make up the big picture. A quick hug, a game of cards, a good laugh, a nice chat at dinner—these are the snippets of 2020 that mattered most. 

7. Our homes run more smoothly with systems in place. Chores make the world go ‘round—especially when we’re all stuck at home together, using up dishes and making messes. 

8. Bad moods are a part of life. Have you cried on a recent weekday morning? Me too! Do your children lose it over little things? Same! This year we can finally agree: it’s okay to be sad sometimes.  

9. We can trust God above all other influences. With information coming our way about everything, from all sides, and all sources, this year showed us the necessity of looking to God for clarity, wisdom, and understanding. 

10. Emotion regulation is a powerful tool. Those bad moods we mentioned? Knowing what to do when we’re in one—and how to coach our children through them as well—means we can acknowledge our sadness but not sit in it forever. 

11. Screen time isn’t always the enemy. With the right technology strategy, we can use media to make it through a Zoom call without interruption and introduce our kids to engaging characters with a moral message. 

12. When we look back, we’ll remember the good. Peace out, 2020, right? A quick scroll through our camera roll might prove otherwise: a tough year full of fun moments. 

13. Kids don’t keep. When life began to return to normal, two things became abundantly clear: our kids had outgrown their clothes and we had no clue about their new sizes. Even when the whole world stops, they keep growing.  

14. Small, healthy habits go a long way. A morning walk, an energizing afternoon snack, a decent bedtime—some weeks these are the very things that help us take a deep breath and show up as parents and people.

15. People need people. We weren’t made to do life alone. We need our own parents, siblings, other families, and close friends to partner with us on this journey. And our kids need people too. 

16. Sometimes you have to say no or let go. When you’re parenting in a pandemic, you realize there’s only so much room on the plate. It can feel awkward to decline an invitation or request, but once you do there’s often nothing left but sweet relief. 

17. Slow and simple don’t have to be the way of the past. For months, we’ve been forced to leave the hustle and bustle behind. And while we might not have chosen the slow life, we now see how taking things easy benefits both us and our kids. 

18. Family dynamics are tricky, yes, but they’re worth working through. We haven’t all agreed this year, have we? But boy have we grown. 

19. We all have something to give. 2020 revealed just how much need exists in our world at large and the community closeby. We can show our kids how to love our neighbors well in practical, tangible ways. 

20. Every day brings a new opportunity. The chance to choose a better attitude, to be more purposeful in our parenting, to rest when we need to rest, and more. 

And hey, we don’t need a new year to start fresh but, after 2020, isn’t it nice to know a new one’s coming anyway? As ready as we are to turn that last calendar page, we can take these important lessons learned with us into 2021 and beyond. There’s no doubt 2020 was HARD. But we’re better for it, and our kids will be too.