The COVID-19 pandemic transformed family life. Families faced financial setbacks, school and childcare complications, and strained mental health and personal relationships.
For a while, many parents weren’t sure how they’d make it through. But over time, families have adapted and found new ways to not just survive, but thrive. Here are some changes families made this past year and how they’re managing today.
Saved more and spent less
The U.S. personal saving rate soared to a record high in April 2020 when pandemic uncertainty was at its peak. Meanwhile, consumer spending on services dropped as families spent more time at home and prioritized essential expenses.
While some families are ready to return to their old habits, others are surprised by how little they miss take-out coffees, impulse purchases, and other nonessential spending. That’s not to say we’re all hoarding our pennies, however. Rather, we’ve switched to spending money on experiences over stuff.
Sold their homes
Families feeling the financial pinch of the pandemic are also finding ways to save on life’s biggest expenses. As home prices skyrocket, homeowners are cashing out and banking their equity.
What are families doing instead? 45% say they intend to rent instead of buying right away. While some sellers are just waiting for the market to cool down, many are recent transplants to cities like Phoenix who prefer to rent a home while exploring the city. As renters, they have time to find the best family-friendly neighborhood in their price range before committing to a home
Found flexible work
Remote work gave parents more time at home, saved time and money on commuting, and improved work-life balance. Initially a temporary measure, employers have also found themselves pleasantly surprised by the benefits of remote work with several major brands making it a permanent part of their hiring strategy.
Meanwhile, former service industry and retail workers are finding new opportunities with higher wages, better benefits, and more work-life balance. It’s a job seekers’ market, Business Insider points out, and employees have the power to negotiate with companies desperate for staff.
Strengthened family bonds
All of that time at home hasn’t been easy. More Americans report declines in mental health than those who say their mental wellbeing improved during the pandemic. Social isolation has been a big contributor, with one in four Americans mentioning missing family and friends in a recent survey.
But while the pandemic made it difficult to maintain relationships with long-distance loved ones, many Americans said they enjoy spending more time with spouses and children. A slower pace of life has meant opportunities to engage in hobbies and relax as a family instead of racing to keep up with overscheduled lives.
Learned to ask for help
The pandemic hasn’t just brought us closer as a family. It’s also strengthening communities as neighbors form mutual aid groups, erect community refrigerators and free pantries, and reach out to offer support.
Americans are also getting more comfortable seeking support for their mental health. The pandemic triggered a wave of depression, anxiety, and insomnia and mental health providers are noticing increased demand for treatment as a result. Families are also pursuing couples counseling to deal with relationship challenges highlighted during the pandemic. Thanks to the
expansion of telehealth services, many people have been able to access counseling without leaving their home.
It’s true that the pandemic has its silver linings. Whether you’ve enjoyed more time at home, mastered the art of budgeting, or finally made a long overdue career change, there’s probably something good that has come out of the past year or two. Yet even with the bright spots, it’s been a difficult time for all of us — especially couples and families. When you need help finding the path forward for your family, reach out to Dina at Family Coaching, LLC for couples and parenting counseling from an experienced relationship coach.
Article by Emily Graham of mightymoms.net