Saturday, 16 January 2021

Putting my 2020 Diary to good use

Let's be honest, last year was a complete shit-show and although there seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel, it's all been really overwhelming. My kids have gone through a hell of a lot over the last year- I know most have, their normal lives are so different at the moment and they've really had to adapt quickly to all of the changes. Mine have had some really had some crappy stuff to handle on top of the lockdown. Oh very cryptic Jenn, I know, but I won't go into it here. Not yet anyway. So I won't be mentioning the bad stuff in here so sorry if bits and pieces don't make a lot of sense right now!


2020 was like nothing we'd ever experienced. Every day had it's challenges and it was easy to get down, but over the last few years I've learnt this knack of picking myself up and powering through. I'm a tough old bird when I need to be!

At times it was really tricky to see the positives. We live in a flat so seeing families enjoying sunny days in their gardens was deflating, seeing people completely ignoring the rules, and people having a lot more time on their hands than me. It was a frustrating time. I constantly felt like my children deserved better.

On one hand I was feeling like we should have all the time in the world to binge-watch Netflix series, do crafts with the kids and make Tik Toks; on the other hand I was feeling so overwhelmed with everything going on, trying to juggle so many things at a time. My brain was going at a million miles per hour. I needed to find a way to switch off and give myself a break. 

So many people said that buying a 2020 diary was the biggest waste of money last year but in January I bought myself a lovely personalised one from Papier and I was determined to use it. So it became a way of documenting lockdown. I noted down everything and it became a part of my daily routine, sat by our window in our crappy little flat getting the fresh air I needed while writing and doodling away. In the morning reflecting over a cup of tea while my one year old climbed on everything pottered about. 

I originally started colouring in the days of the monthly planner to show which days were when we were in lockdown, little did I know I'd end up colouring in the rest of the year! 

There’s funny quotes from the day, usually something the kids have said or something that only Sam and I find funny. It started with speech bubbles highlighting a new word that Mila has learnt, then that evolved into little mini sentences. 

When homeschool started, each day I would write the list of subjects I needed to teach and it helped me get a bit of a lesson plan together. 

I've documented what we were watching, how I was feeling, who I chatted to. There's things that made me smile and any updates from the government or things in the news that were interesting. It's become a mini times capsule of the crazy year that 2020 was! Milestone-wise, it's been a pretty big year for my toddler too. I  think it will be interesting to look back on. I like having sentimental things like this.


The note pages are full of doodles of the drawings that M and I drew together along with Rob Biddulph’s online tutorials. Those were a lot of fun, I really enjoyed the mornings when we had some proper time together, it made a change from days out or our weekly hot chocolate trip after school. Though I really look forward to the day we can do those again; that normality feels a long way off at the moment. 

One thing that I loved reading back at the end of the year was my page of random things my best mate and I spoke about. 90% of our conversations are us pondering something ridiculous that results in long conversations and fits of laughter. After a conversation about why on earth Leeds Castle isn't in Leeds I realised we had spoken about such a range of things, it really interested me to see what else would come up throughout the year. So I decided to start keeping a note and I'm so glad I have it to look back on, this girl is absolutely hilarious and I bloody love our friendship! 

My diary is far from a waste, it's something I will love looking back on.


Writing out what I was grateful for was really helpful to keep in a positive mindset. This is something I really needed to practice when things were getting me down. Some days I was so overwhelmed with what was going on that would have been hard enough without lockdown but it massively knocked us all mentally when we had no way to escape. 

 Don’t get me wrong, this wasn’t every day and it wasn’t easy. There were times when thinking of one thing I was grateful for was followed by

 ...‘yea but there are 10 things that I hate!.

 It was tough to try and shake off the feeling of dread and I spent a lot of time worrying. But even writing this out, seeing it all together is really uplifting and it's made me see that I can get through the tough times. So adding those little bits here-and-there really do add up eventually. 

A little summary of some of the things I wrote down ...


My parents, my brothers and sister for dropping over food or sending the kids little gifts to keep them smiling. My sister buying them a ball pit was a huge hit when they were stuck inside! Our group chats always cheer me up too. 

My mother-in-law and her Mum offering us a place to stay for our safety and our own mental health. Also their incredible cooking. 

I have to admire Sam’s work ethic. Money-wise, the pandemic hit us hard! Work for both of us suffered and finding new projects was difficult. Sam is so ambitious and so hard working, always coming up with new ideas and ways to keep us afloat. I'm really lucky he is like that. 

My children. They have shown that they are so resilient. M has even been more level-headed than me at times and they have both been a big old bundle of joy getting me through tough days.

Where we live

Last year the sun made a huge difference. Sunlight really improves my mood, plus I have very low vitamin D levels so it's a necessity. As much as living in little flat was unbearable, and it really would have been nice to have a garden for the children to run around in, it could have been worse. We are lucky to have a big balcony door for light, it became the place where the children played most of the day. At one point we had a paddling pool there (yes, there was mess but they had a great time!). We are lucky to only live on the first floor in a quiet road, not live on a busy main road up 10 flights of stairs. 

Having neighbours nearby that made us laugh. Talking over the balcony, laughing in our group chat, and sitting out by our building car park for an hour-or-so gave us that community feeling. We definitely got closer as a block during the year. They helped us with a lot. 

We've made a big point of supporting local businesses, a lot of my Christmas presents were from independent sellers along with new clothes I bought. 

Jess and the BeanstalkMihai Salon and Blacks Burgers are a few of our local small businesses who are not only being hit by the pandemic and doing a great job but also great friends and shoulders to cry on too. Jess ordering pumpkin spice syrup to keep my addiction going, Blacks Burgers sending out delicious cook-at-home kits to fill the burger-void and Mihai knowing my hair better than I do. They're all lovely people and if you live nearby I recommend them all. 

Having car has been really helpful, you don't realise how much you take these things for granted. During some of the worst days we would pack up some treats and go for a drive to get away from home. A petrol garage meal deal became one of life’s great pleasures. 

We're also really lucky to live within walking distance to shops, parks and have a pretty lovely views from the  downs nearby too. There are definitely worse places to be locked down in - even if I do fantasise about what it would have been like in a warmer country by the sea!


My friends. God they are an awesome bunch. Even though I’ve not been able to see them I've chatted with them loads more than usual. Zoom, Instagram, Tik Toks and group chats keeping us all connected and forever making me laugh. I cannot wait til we're all together again. 

My friends on socials have been a massive help too, honestly some of my DM's have kept me going and often had me in fits of laughter. I class some of the people on Instagram as good friends now. Some are there for me in the middle of the night when I can't sleep, keeping me sane. I talk to a few of them more than I do some members of my own family and talk about them like I've known them for years. Sophie Rachel and Tiff, this is you especially. 


To put it politely, the government have not done the best job during all this but I massively appreciated being sent a food box when I've been shielding. I felt like I was really being looked after when they would check in and see if I needed help with anything. Not enough gets said about stuff like this. 

Police, solicitors, school governors, all kinds of people in that department have been a massive help. They've given us advice and been at the end of the phone when we've needed them. I’m so thankful our voices are being heard and a weight has been lifted off our shoulders.

I thought about what a lockdown would have been a couple of decades ago. Technology has carried us through 2020, without it would have been much harder. Not only has it made us better connected with Zoom drinks (one day we attended a Zoom festival!), WhatsApp and social media but it meant M has stayed in  touch with friends with online chats, games and Zoom calls while he's been off school. 

We had Joe Wickes being a total superstar getting the kids moving each morning with his Youtube workouts, this also meant I struggled to walk on those days when he added in a ridiculous amount of squats and burpees! 

Homeschooling was made much easier with access to so many educational videos and resources, I would have massively struggled with teaching fractions without Alexa and now I know what a fronted adverbial is too. 

Or the more materialistic things like the existence of online shopping, not just treats like clothes and makeup but being able to have the food shop delivered (thanks to a high priority slot which I am so grateful for). 

And remember when we were all sharing Amazon wish lists to send out little gifts? That was lovely. 

It goes without saying that this year made us all more grateful for the NHS than ever before. I've spoken to many health professionals over the last year for various reasons and each time they've been absolutely fantastic. I can only refer to what I've experienced but I know they are all working so hard during the pandemic and clapping for them on a Thursday was lovely at first, seeing those rainbows in the windows and being outside clapping, banging saucepans with the neighbours gave us such a sense of community but they really deserve much much more than that. 

also just Dogs in general. I'm always grateful for dogs. They're ace. 

And most recently putting it all into perspective. The past year could have been seen as our worst year yet, but I thought about what it would take to make a year truly the worst year and it was picturing it with someone I love missing. Picturing a family dinner with one or more seats empty. That will be the worst year ever for me. One day it will happen and it terrifies me. So without getting too deep, while the last year has been absolutely horrific in so many ways- for me it could be a lot worse, and for that I'm grateful. 


1 comment: