Carly Flynn: 20 Crucial Things I Learned From 2020

Posted on 11/01/2021

Carly Flynn: 20 Crucial Things I Learned From 2020 name

It’s a cliché to say it, but far out what a year 2020 has BEEN!

Living with the constant threat of another Covid outbreak or lockdown has become our new normal and adjusting to living with this uncertainty has been pretty difficult for us control freaks. In saying that, I’ve found some massive positives in having to slow down and being “forced” to spend more close contact time with my immediate family.

So here are the 20 lessons I've taken from 2020 that leave me in great stead for whatever 2021 may bring...


1. It’s all about community

 I have just loved seeing the resurgence of communities – of helping and checking in with one another, even if it had to be from a distance.  We are nothing without our people and our ‘Team of 5 million’ has done an excellent job looking out for one another.


2. My garden is great!

When the first lockdown happened and we were trying to fill our days and worried about ongoing access to food (unfounded!), I went through all of my old seeds and chucked everything in the garden, It kept us well fed for the rest of the year and I’ve been able to share bags and bags of greens with our community. Being busy pre-Covid meant I’d long neglected the vege garden, so I’ve really loved getting my green fingers back.


3. Ditching the clutter feels good

We really, really, really don’t need so much STUFF. I’ve completely relished being able to go through our chocka household (three kids and a puppy have it pretty full!) and re-gift, sell and simply turf out things that we no longer love or have a purpose for.


4. Re-using is so satisfying

I’ve enjoyed how much better we’ve gotten at re using and re-purposing. Not being able to whip out and buy all sorts of previously thought to be necessary things has made us be more creative at home. It’s fun – and makes you feel good, and saves money too. The only thing we couldn’t replace during lock down was Soda Stream bottles for fizzy water!


5. Readjusting your spending makes sense

My credit card debt has never been as low as it was in the first lockdown. It was about a quarter of what we’d usually spend. And as much as expenditure has crept up again, we’re much more planned around food spending which helps being more organised, and value every unspent dollar more.


6. Readjusting your expectations makes even more sense!

In 2019 I was doing too much. As a freelance broadcaster, I can get a call the night before for a 3am TV shift, or a few hours before a daytime radio shift. It throws our family into a state of panic as we work out the logistics, but I really truly love what I do, so would always try and make it work.


Through Covid we were forced to be at home, unable to accept outside work, and it made for a much calmer family life. I’ve taken that approach to now only accepting what’s right for the family not just for my career (which can be hard to swallow some days!)


7. Embrace the joy of reading

I don’t think I’ve ever read so many books. I’ve absolutely buried myself in them this year. From American Dirt, to the Tattooist of Auschwitz, Glennon Doyle’s Untamed and anything by Lucinda Riley (but especially the Seven Sister Series), I am just adoring reading again and notice that when we stop to pick up the pages, our kids do too.


8. Be kinder to myself

As above, sometimes that’s simply to cut myself some slack and pick up a book, or go for a walk, or play a board game with the kids. Maybe have eggs on toast for tea. The endless washing, cooking, tidying and working just sometimes has to wait. Otherwise nothing goes well if the Mother Ship is empty!


9. Be kinder to others

I’ve always tried to walk in others’ shoes; you just never know what’s going on in other people’s lives. I’ve had lots of friends lose jobs, status, and loved ones. I just adored how our Prime Minister has made it even cooler to be kind.


10. Focus on what I can control

Feeling out of control is not a nice feeling. But when lockdown hit, nothing was really in our control and we couldn’t predict the future. Fun fact – we still can’t predict the future and can’t control everything anyway! I’ve had to let go and live much more in the moment and accept “what is, is”.


11. Exercise and nature is really good for me!

How good were the socially distanced walks and bike rides in lockdown! How good was it having virtually no cars on the roads and discovering new parts of the community by foot! I’ve learned that even when you least feel like it, exercise or getting out in nature is always worth it.

12. Spend more time with the kids

We have three kids. We have our hands full and we are outnumbered. So much of our time is spent working through logistics of places they need to be, or things they need to have with them. Removing all extra curricular activities and time outside of the house meant we truly got to spend some amazing time together. Weirdly I feel like I got to enjoy them more and know them better! I can’t actually wait to hang and go slow in the Christmas holidays.


13. I’d make a hopeless teacher

Despite being from a family of teachers, I would make a hopeless one. To my own kids anyway. Home schooling was tough.


14. I have so much appreciation for teachers

They are awesome.

15. I'm very grateful to be in broadcasting

I was one of the “lucky ones” I guess. Broadcasting is an Essential Service so I was able to continue my Radio Show, Weekend Life on Magic Talk, and film The Café (TV3) from home. This meant I got to continue to connect with the outside world and share stories, tips and tricks with the NZ population that hopefully made things more manageable for people watching and listening from home. I love what I do and was so grateful to be able to continue to do this throughout the year, even in lockdowns.


16. Coffee is not just coffee

After the first lockdown I’d saved so much on not buying coffees, I tried to limit myself from going back to a bought coffee a day. But that was ridiculous, as much as we’d proven we could make our own decent coffee at home, I realised it’s not just about the taste of the coffee. Connecting with my community at the local café was sorely missed, and as a neighbourhood, it’s been a joy to return to being able to hang out and share a cuppa.


17. Health

There is nothing more important than this.

18. Family

Except this

19. Treats and self-care

Self care isn’t just about massages and facials and bought coffees, but sometimes it IS about massages and facials and bought coffees. I love my monthly trips to The Face Place – and the accountability it makes me have to looking after my skin. They do a pretty amazing massage in the chair too.


20.  This too shall pass

Lastly, I’ve learnt that whatever is happening, we'll get through it.


by Carly Flynn

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