2020 Year End Review

Year End Review for 2020

Whew. Praise the LORD that 2020 is BEHIND US.

At the start of each year, I like to go over my goals from the year prior to see how I did (you can see my 2020 goals here). Before I go over 2020 let’s be real for a second. 2020 was a year of survival. I had a toddler and three other kids at home during a dang pandemic. It’s okay that I didn’t get a bunch of goals achieved. I didn’t have some huge, awesome quarantine project. 2020 was about MAKING IT THROUGH. And here I sit. So mission accomplished.

And that goes for anyone reading too! Don’t beat yourself up if the “to do” list didn’t get finished. If the goals went unmet. 2021 is a fresh start and the slowdown in 2020 gave us all a chance to reprioritize and have a RESET!

2020 was tough on us all in many ways. For me, it was a year of continued growth and it took me to places I never anticipated or planned on. My faith struggled and then was strengthened. My marriage struggled and then was renewed better than ever. My self-worth was questioned and then was rejuvenated. It was a year of many trials through which I will be forever grateful as they have led to so many triumphs for myself and our family.

Interestingly enough my word for 2020 was “simplify.” Pretty ironic, huh?

And that is a word I did NOT live out in 2020. In many ways, our world slowed down and seemed to simplify itself, but in my heart and mind my world was rocked and I went into overdrive in a lot of these areas that I’d hoped to chill out on. And that’s okay.

We all have our ways of coping and surviving tough times and I lost myself a bit in mine and lost that focus I’d planned on for the year. But God is good and He blessed me with another year to focus on minimizing my overflowing plate and to get back to that focus of simplifying things!

While as a whole I didn’t do so great in simplifying I DO think I did well with this: “Simplify the love I give. Focus on relationships that I want to pour into. Allow room for others to pour back.”

Having the shut down forced some simplifying and allowed for a better perspective on what is really worth the time we devote to it. What do I want to add back into my life? What am I better off without?

I really grew SO MUCH personally in 2020. The hard work put into therapy paid off in a big way and I’m on the other side of so much hurt and pain. Able to see the fruits of that labor. My relationships have a better balance and I’m finding connections where I’m able to give but also receive love.

Here is a recap of the goals I had for 2020 and notes on how I did in achieving them:

  • Focus on saving money and spending smart: shop around for insurances, invest savings, change tv plan, small changes that add up! Put more money into retirement savings:   This was a HUGE focus for 2020. Out of everything that we worked towards during the year I think this is one of the biggest areas that we really made HARDCORE changes. We did every single one of these items. We got rid of our dish and switched to YouTube TV, shopped insurance options (what we already have ended up being the most affordable), switched to online banking for our savings to maximize interest earnings (I highly recommend Ally and American Express Savings), we also committed to the goal of setting aside 15% of earnings towards retirement for the year! I’m thankful that this was a big goal of mine for 2020 because when all the crazy hit, it just lit an even bigger fire within me for our family financially!
  • Finish up with my personal portion of healing. Feel content in those hurts and able to fully put them aside and not define myself by them.  Ok so this is another biggie that also got tackled in a HUGE way in 2020. For me to get to a point in therapy where my therapist said “you really don’t need me anymore” is CRAZY awesome! I had many moments come up that would have normally caused me to break down and be in the bed unable to function because of the hurt but instead? I took a moment to feel the feelings I had and then I moved on. Like in less than 5 min and often without a single tear shed. This. Is. HUGE. I cannot recommend therapy enough for everyone and I’m so thankful for the incredible personal growth I’ve experienced through that hard work I’ve put in the last few years! Zach and I also went to marriage counseling and just ONE visit has been incredible for our marriage!
  • Figure out how to get back to writing out 10 things thankful for each day – continue to have Bible reading time at night before going to sleep along with prayer time.  I struggled with this a lot in 2020. Many times I found it hard to focus on the good and my faith was tested at times. However, this practice WORKS. I find it’s best for me to start the day with writing out my 10 things and with my bible time and it’s a BIG focus for me in 2021.
  • Hire a business consultant / virtual assistant to completely organize blog, optimize old content and create email series. Have site completely organized with landing pages by end of 2020.  This did NOT happen. BUT it’s already set up and beginning to role for 2021 so I am excited for what is to come!
  • Additional Blog Goals: Maintain Instagram growth, Be choosier in campaigns I take on, Grow blog traffic by 15k per month on average, Earn $5,000 more than last year (fine with maintaining too), Cash out on Reward Style at least once, Make a new pin each day, Stay caught up on personal posts, Get back to ENJOYING it all! This was also a big struggle and some of it did happen, but a lot of it didn’t. I wasn’t able to step away the way I’d intended to in 2020. In fact, I had MORE work-related stress on me than I’ve ever felt. It was all self-inflicted but it was real and it was/is there and it’s something I’m currently working through and working hard to remove from my plate (it’s actually been the topic of my recent therapy sessions!). I was NOT choosier in the campaigns I took on. With Zach unable to work for 8 weeks during shut down I felt like I had to say YES to EVERYTHING and struggled to say no because I felt like our family needed me to step up and do all I could. Once you’re in that routine of feeling that pressure it’s hardddd to chill out about it. My blog did not grow, I got super behind with my personal content. But I did earn a good bit with Reward Style (cashed out like 10 times not just once!) and earned right at that additional $5000 I was planning to make, which is awesome considering it was a pandemic. However, that earning came at a cost and it came with a lot of unnecessary stress and I am setting goals that allow for me to step back further and find that truer joy in it this coming year while also still continuing to grow/meet income goals. It’s a tricky balance to achieve!
  • Keep sleep a top priority – 7 hours minimum – go to bed EARLIER. I’m in a really solid sleep schedule routine where I always get at least 7 hours! I can’t think of a single time in 2020 where I didn’t get that full 7 hours of sleep. Heck, when we were home so much I got in the habit of sleeping in pretty late πŸ˜‰
  • House Goals: Tess new room completely finished, Kye room redecorated, my “mom cave” done, bathrooms and master started.  Zach finished Tess’s new room WAY ahead of schedule thanks to so much time at home. He’s also pretty much finished all of Kye’s room (reveal to come). The BIG treehouse project(s) ended up putting other things on the backburner which is fine as we didn’t need to be spending the money needed to redo the bathrooms or start the “mom cave” project. We also made the decision to redo the upstairs office and convert it into a homework/hangout space for the kids so that’s currently a work in progress too!
  • Show up with love in my marriage – focus on communicating and building on the friendship level we reached at end of 2019.  2020 came with a lot of tough stuff including moments that rocked our marriage. BUT we BOTH have said that the best thing to come out of 2020 is where it took our relationship. It’s been incredible to see the growth we’ve had together. Our communication. Our friendship. Our bond. Life trials either make you or break you and for us, 2020 was a MAKE US kinda year πŸ™‚
  • Keep nails painted! (Official “I’m adjusted to 4 kids status”) BAHAHAHA. Hilarious. Such a simple goal and nope…I FAILED. To my credit though…we never really did leave the house much so why paint ’em?
  • Cut back even less on Christmas – 10 gift goal!  I did do great with this even with the super big temptation to SPOIL the kids at Christmas after the crazy year filled with so many disappointments. I stuck to the goal and to the budget and the kids still had an awesome Christmas so it was proof to me that less IS more!
  • Rental House Goals: New carpet, simplify booking process on my side of things, earn enough to pay for itself as well as enough to cover at least half the cost of our Disney passes. Oh, we def did put in that new carpet. And like a week later the world shut down and bam we started GUTTING money on the Disney house. I don’t even want to think about the amount of money lost over it in 2020. It was a wake-up for us though on just how much we LOVE the house. Because truly we should have sold it. But neither of us wanted to let it go so we rode the wave the best we could and are eager and excited for the revenge travel to get those bookings rolling πŸ™‚
  • Continue with OMAD and focus on portion control during that window.  I’ve been an intermittent faster for almost 2 years now and I LOVE IT. I just skip breakfast and eat a late lunch and early dinner but it took me awhile to get the portion control figured out. For a long time I was overeating during that open window so I didn’t feel as good as I could if it’d controlled my portions. Def a hard thing to work on when at home with YOLO life and treats but I really did get into a better grove and am in a good routine now where I feel more like ME.
  • Make time for me without guilt! Zach golfs…I can go and do and not feel bad too! UGH have I mention the WORLD SHUT DOWN?! Yeah I struggled SO hard with it. I’m a goer. A doer. A girl who lives for planning and anticipating and not having the ability to go and do reallllllly caused me to struggle SO MUCH. Plus my happiest place was shut down. Even just knowing I COULDN’T go to Disney was hard! Ya know what never shut down though? Not at all, ever? GOLFING hahaha. I’m def making up for the lack of “me time” in 2020 with trying to do ALL THE THINGS in 2021. Crossing fingers I can make some fun stuff happen because I didn’t get much of any me time in 2020!
  • Work out regularly again – be in a positive body image space for the cruise and beyond.  HAHA Remember when I thought I was GOING ON A CRUISE? Bhahhaaha. All the body image hopes were crushed and emotional eating took over for a good bit of the year for SURE but are back on track in 2021 πŸ˜‰
  • Continue thriving to be a light for my children – start the day with joy and calmness, welcome them after school with hugs and praise, end the night with quality time tucking in (not rushed!): I really stuck to this in a big way. It was a mind shift for me and I’ve really strived for our mornings to be smoother and for them to come home to a happy mama meeting them! I’ve always highly valued tuck-in time and def make sure that it’s quality together time with each of them (even if it takes me an hour to get them all down for the night ha!).
  • Wash my hair less (fun goal!): I wash once a week! πŸ™‚ Mission accomplished πŸ˜‰
  • Budget better this year – spend less on groceries, meal plan, shop around to price compare before spending: I went CRAZY overboard in spending on groceries when the shut down happened. BUT then with Zach being unable to work I got my butt in gear and we both have buckled down in a HUGE way in the spending department. 2020 got me on FIRE with some Dave Ramsey and I’m hardcore all in as is Zach and we are SO PUMPED for the freedom that comes with being completely DEBT FREE!
  • Blog Books: 2017, 2018, 2019: I got 2017 done! At least it’s something πŸ˜‰
  • Remind myself “I don’t have to.” Truly focus on things I want to pour into without feeling obligated. LIVE LOVED.: YES. This is one of those ones I’ll probably always have to be working on and it’s not a “check it off the list and be done” kinda goal. BUT I’ve come SO FAR. I’ve really learned to realized that it’s not a rejection of ME but a reflection of THEM. My deep rooted emotion is rejection and I have often lived from a “rejection mindset” so it’s been a big mind shift to see that majority of the time the way others value us (or don’t) is more about what they have going on in their own lives rather than a rejection of us!
  • SIMPLIFY: It bugged me ALL YEAR that this didn’t really happen BUT so many big shifts and changes in 2020 did help put a lottttt of simplifying into motion and that snowball effect is going to keep right on rolling in 2021! Excited for the year ahead!

Here’s a recap of our family goals for 2020 and how we did in achieving them:

I think it’s great for the kids to have individual goals to work on as self improvement is a great thing for us ALL and I think it’s wonderful for the kids to take time to reflect a bit and set some goals for themselves. Of course there is never any pressure on them or anything! Out of all the kids Britt def takes hers the most seriously and really does some deep self reflecting.

  • Focus on Gratitude and Kindness and Speaking in Love: Another one that will always be a work in progress! Especially with so many kids and now pre-teens in the mix πŸ˜‰
  • Kye: shoot basketball regularly, work out in the evenings, make 3 goals during basketball season in a game, reach the nether in Minecraft, earn all A’s, and try out for basketball in middle school: Kye ended up not really wanting to pursue basketball but HAS found such a LOVE for archery which is so awesome! We are so glad he’s found a passion πŸ™‚ He DID reach “nether” in Minecraft (whatever that is) and earned all A’s and also does his own little workout routine in the evenings (which is pretty adorable)
  • Britt: get her ears pierced, master a solo handstand on the balance beam, sleep in until 10 am, save up the $500 goal for Hawaii, and be jolly all year: We def checked the “get ears pierced” of the list this year! I’m not sure if she mastered a handstand on the balance beam…her gymnastics world got rocked when the world shut down and her gym announced they were shutting doors permanently. We did find her a new gym and she LOVES it and I know she’s been hardcore working on her back handspring. She did sleep in until 10 am one morning this year (she’s like her mama and loves to sleep in). AND she met her $500 for Hawaii savings goal (yall we tried to surprise the kids with a trip to Hawaii…TWICE…just canceled again and are holding out hope for a big surprise in 2022!). Britt struggles with pessimism and I do think “be jolly all year” is a goal she’ll always have to work on but she’s come a LONG way for sure in finding/focus on the good!
  • Tess: work on her reading, learn how to tie her shoes, be sweet and snuggle mommy (pretty sure she’ll nail this one pretty easily ha!) and not have any crying at school: I was worried about Tess and how she would do with having SO much time at home and then going back to school. She struggled a lot with the kindergarten adjustment. I also worried about her falling behind with her reading skills with our school year ending in MARCH. BUT she has LOVED first grade AND is reading at a crazy high reading level for her age (like almost a third-grade reading level) which blows my mind. She had no issue jumping back into the school routine. I’m not sure if she can tie her shoes…I’m thinking she can but she also doesn’t have many shoes that require it ha! She’s def spent plenty of time being sweet and snuggling her mama πŸ˜‰
  • Spear: get fully potty trained, transition to a booster seat, possibly transition to a big kid bet (ughhh dreading that one haha), and continue to focus on his speech therapy: Spear IS day-trained completely with the potty with very, very few and far between accidents. He is NOT nap and night trained and still poops during those times. So that should be an interesting one to tackle! He totally skipped the booster seat at mealtimes and went straight from the high chair to sitting in regular chairs and does great with it. We have continued to put off the big kid bed (#cribforlife) but have continued to hardcore focus on his speech therapy and he’s made BIG gains in his speech development!
  • Zach’s only family goal he shared for 2020 was to be a more fun Disney Dad which is ironic seeing as Disney literally shut it’s doors for 3 months haha. He got off easy on that goal! But it was very clear that he has been really working on this and it makes Disney trips SO MUCH FUN when we’re all enjoying them together! I appreciate so much that he doesn’t just get on board for the kids and I to go to Disney but that he puts that extra effort in to have FUN there too πŸ™‚

Final Thoughts:

My dream job for my entire life for as long as I can remember was to be a stay-at-home mom. I not only wanted that for my children but also for myself. Everyone has different size plates and I know mine is smaller than most. I get overwhelmed when my plate gets overfilled. I knew if I were to work outside the home that I wouldn’t be able to give my best self to my husband or my children.

It’s funny how things work and how we can drift from our goals in life without even realizing it. No, I haven’t worked outside the home (aside from working with Zach with Aflac life) but I have almost accidently transitioned to a working from home mom. And it’s become exactly what I didn’t want: overwhelming. Hard to be my best self. Constant guilt that I’m not able to be the best wife I can be for my husband. Or the best mother I can be for my children.

I’m in no way saying I judge other moms, in fact, the opposite is true. I see SO MANY mamas juggling SO MUCH and I’m in complete and total AW because there is just no way I could ever do what so many of yall do!!!

This isn’t a statement about ALL moms. It’s about ME and MYSELF and being able to take a step back and assess things and realize my small plate is just overwhelmed and I have to remove things from it.

Which is a lot harder to do than it sounds.

In 2020 I became extra focused on my blog and social media and the #momhustle life. I felt like I NEEDED to step up in order to help my family. I said “yes” to more than ever before.

Zach is amazing at compartmentalizing. He goes to work. He comes home and he shuts work off. He is great at taking time for himself to recharge. He is great at pouring into the family without letting work interfere. Family time is family time. Period.

He doesn’t work on weekends. He doesn’t (typically) bring home work in the evenings. He grinds hard during working hours to provide for our family and then he shuts it off.

I’m terrible at all of those things. Add in a job that is literally AT MY HOUSE and it’s impossible for me to shut it off. Blogging/social media is also a job that never stops. There are no set hours. There is never an end to the things you “need to” be doing.

It’s a world where you’re ALWAYS “ON” and it can easily suck you in and suck you dry. If I spend time with my kids or try to “relax” it’s always there in the back of my mind. “I should be” “I need to be.”

If I set aside time to work I’m constantly feeling that mom-guilt of “I should be” or “I need to be” with my kids.

There is no balance. And the reality is this isn’t what I want for myself or our family. We are blessed to be in a situation where I do have that choice. When we met Zach felt just as passionately as I did regarding my desire to be a stay-at-home mom. His mom always stayed home with them (and helped his dad with Aflac stuff, which is a life I also know well as I help Zach and am a licensed insurance agent too!) and we both really bonded over that desire we shared for our future.

I’m so grateful to have this avenue. What once was a hobby has slowly become so much more and I appreciate everyone who hangs out with me here and on Instagram and I have worked HARD to get to where I am and I don’t want to in anyway throw away that hard work.

But. Something has to give and I have to actively make those changes. Kye turning 12 was a big wake-up for me. I only have so many years left with all my babies under my roof and I want to make sure I look back and don’t have ANY regrets.

My #1 goal in my entire life is to have a great relationship with my children and I don’t want anything to come between that.

2020 pushed me beyond my limits in the work from home mom life and ALL of that pressure was self-induced. Zach has always been supportive of my #sidehustle but has never put any pressure on me at all in that area.

We are blessed that we do not need this income. It’s always been a bonus for us. However, since Zach’s diagnosis and then especially with the added addition of the crazy of 2020 I felt like it’s important that we have this avenue. If something were to happen to Zach’s health or Zach’s job – I HAVE THIS. I can help provide.

But it is also so silly that I’m literally a slave to something that we don’t even NEED. That I’m missing out on moments that I always dreamed about with my children, for what? Something. Has. To. Change.

We are working together (and I’m working with my therapist too!) on figuring out how to better manage all of this and how to get me back to a place where I’m truly happy and fulfilled and better managing that plate.

This whole thing has been weighing SO HEAVY on my heart and by writing it out here I’m truly holding myself accountable that my 2021 year end review WILL reflect these changes. I am so thankful for my awesome husband and friends who have listened to me countless times as I hash out how to handle all of this as I moved forward!

So far in 2021, I’ve hired two people to handle some of the behind-the-scenes things of the blog and it’s already helped SO MUCH. I’ve also been stepping back from Instagram and saying NO to the majority of the collab offers I receive and am finding the JOY in it again!

I want to get to a place where the blog and IG aren’t things I “have to” do but are things I WANT to do and ENJOY doing and that FILL MY CUP like they used to! If ALL the income I earn from blogging/social media goes back into it THAT IS OKAY. The time is coming (too soon!) where I WILL have more time to truly devote to it and by hiring the right people for now, it helps it be something I can easily transition back to when the timing is right.

From a reader/follower perspective nothing should change…except hopefully seeing a happier me on your feed and in my posts πŸ˜‰ I’m still planning to be just as active on IG and to post as regularly (hopefully more up to date actually) on the blog too!

While 2020 brought many tough moments it pushed my workload over that tipping point and I think I needed that. I needed my plate to totally overfill and completely overfill to the point where I dropped the plate and it broke, allowing me to clear it off completely and start anew. So that’s how I begin 2021. Back to the basics and the focus of living the life I’ve always dreamed of and am so blessed to have the ability to live!

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Emily Parker

Hey Y’all, I’m Emily! I’m a stay at home mom and consider parenting to be my passion. Disney is my happiest place and I love making memories as a family together. I’m a big believer in transparency and share all of my real-life moments as a mother of four.

My work has been featured on Love What Matters, Today Parenting and Babywise.Life. I’m also honored to be a member of the Babywise Friendly Blog Network.

You can read more about our family on my About Me page. Also be sure to follow along with me on Instagram, FacebookΒ and Pinterest!

Find me on: Web | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

2 Comments

  1. Kelly
    March 16, 2021 / 9:19 pm

    Great post. I think as a mom who works outside of the home part time, I assume the mommy bloggers / instagrammers work is easy and flexible and doesn’t take over your life like I sometimes feel can happen with me and my job and deadlines….thanks for sharing and putting things into perspective. As always, admire your openness and honesty and your willingness to not only make goals but post them on the internet and then revisit them.

    • March 18, 2021 / 9:54 am

      Thank you!!! It’s def prob a “grass is always greener” situation bc I look at Zach working outside the home and envy that he CAN shut it off and “keep it at work” in a way that I can’t since the job IS at home!

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