Letting Go of 2020 and Embracing 2021

Parenting Coach, author and father of three, Nadim Saad, is the Founder of The Happy Confident Company, working with experienced therapists and teachers in developing a programme that helps to strengthen the bonds in families. Nadim offers advice on what we can take from 2020 to help move into 2021 with greater positivity, optimism and strength

There is no arguing that 2020 was a tough and challenging year for us all, so how can we learn to leave 2020 behind us and move into 2021 with positivity and a renewed energy to help us learn from this most difficult year – in spite of the continuing challenges?

So many people – myself included – have suffered from loss, poor health and in some cases, witnessed those around us struggle with mental health. I’ve seen the effects of it all; losing a parent to COVID-19, having a sister with long COVID and also having contracted the virus myself. My three children have had their own challenges too so, both professionally and personally, I am deeply motivated to find the key learnings and offer guidance to help others move forward.

We see four big learnings from 2020 that will help to move into 2021 with greater positivity, optimism and strength:

Be Compassionate Towards Yourself

While some of us were hardly hit by the pandemic there are also many who found it brought the worst of them as parents. It’s not surprising, given the difficult emotions brought along by the additional stress on individuals and families. Even if you think you’ve had it better than others, it’s still useful to acknowledge that it’s been a tough year rather than ‘sweeping things under the carpet’. This will help to let go of any guilt that you may be carrying from mistakes that you may have made or situations you now realise you didn’t handle particularly well. The important thing is to transform any guilt into a strong motivation to improve things in 2021. Use the renewed energy that the New Year brings to make decisions on the positive changes you can put in place, rather than becoming dragged down by what has already passed.

Don’t Take Anything for Granted

2020 has shown us a new respect for our children’s teachers and has taught us to be grateful for our extended families and friends, and connections and closeness with those we love. It has helped us stop to consider everything we have taken for granted, for example, holidays, family trips, team sports, and days out. It’s important we keep hold of this respect, don’t begin again to take these things for granted, and focus on having gratitude for the good things around us.

Stop Sugar Coating

We have an in-built desire to protect our children from unpleasant feelings, often sugar coating the truth. We tell them not to worry, repeating that ‘everything will be fine’ far too often. In our desire to protect them and keep them safe, we are not enabling their brain to develop its disappointment and frustration ‘muscle’ and emotional regulation – something children need to learn to serve them well in life, help them cope with conflict, compromise and relationships.

Our children have been through a tough year, they know we don’t have the answers, so this is a great opportunity to help them develop their ability to accept that not everything can be made better by their parents, that there are things in life that we are unable to control. And that this is OK. To achieve this, you need to acknowledge their unpleasant and uncomfortable feelings and then teach them to shift these to more pleasant ones.

Forge Deeper Connections

As a species, we are wired for connection. Never has this been more tested and proven than during this pandemic, where we were robbed of much needed together time with extended family, friends. This pandemic has taught people to reconnect with immediate family, to pull together as a team, to teach and support not only our children, but those around us. Connections with people around us, our family and our community are our lifelines. Focus on making these connections deeper, be more open, more honest and more communicative.

Bright Horizons families can get a 15% discount on products to develop children’s happiness and resilience, such as Daily Journals, Feelings and Affirmations card games and online courses. Go to www.happyconfident.com and use coupon BH15 at checkout.

*Please note that this article is general signposting and is not a specific endorsement or recommendation by Bright Horizons. Should you utilise or download any resources, any exchange of data is solely between you and that provider – please note that the resources may be subject to their own terms and conditions and / or privacy notice. (As Bright Horizons has no control of the contents of the external resources, it can assume no responsibility or liability for these resources or the provider’s use of any data you share with them.)