I suspect I'm not alone when I say 2020 has been…a lot. I don't think I know anyone who hasn't felt overwhelmed, overloaded and overwrought for the best part of the year.
Whether we've lost jobs, been isolated from friends and family, or just stressed about the great unknown stretching before us, it seems stress levels have been universally high.
I'm lucky enough to be in Brisbane so I know having the opportunity to travel these holidays is one to be deeply appreciated – and I do – so I have decided to take my children away on the most boring holiday I could come up with.
I've booked us a house in the middle of nowhere, with not much around but horses and kangaroos. No cafes, no shops, no skate parks. Just a place where we can sit, kick a ball outside, and explore the surrounding countryside.
There's a lot to do in South-East Queensland, and most families I know who are lucky enough to take holidays are heading to the Gold or Sunshine coasts, or exploring the coastline of North Queensland. It's perfect beach weather, and there are lots of great activities to take part in.
Why, when I have some of the country's best beaches and theme parks within just an hour's drive of my home, would I want to do nothing in the middle of nowhere? Especially with boredom-prone children?
It's precisely because 2020 has been a lot.
Carolyn Tate with her children. Photo: Supplied
Even without being affected to the extent of our Victoria- and New South Wales-based friends, we've had to be stronger this year than we expected and we've had to learn a lot in a big hurry.
My socially anxious eight-year-old has had to learn to swallow her nerves and walk into her school and gymnastics class without me there to hold her hand, due to restrictions. It doesn't sound like much, but I know she's found that daily act of bravery exhausting.
My outgoing and sporty 10-year-old had to spend weeks at a time away from his mates while they all home-schooled, and he's endured a shortened footy season and months missing out on his beloved martial arts classes.
And my 16-year-old – well my teenager actually prefers the world in lockdown, but he's spent so much time talking with his friends online that I'd like to get him out of wifi range just for a little while and remind him there is a natural world out there waiting to be explored and appreciated.
And me? I've been through my own rollercoaster of job loss and career adjustments, while trying to keep calm and parent on, learning new ways of doing just about everything and cajoling whomever was feeling overwhelmed or distraught on any given day. All delivered with the reassuring smile of a parent who is sure things are going to work out just fine, because number one on the list of parent key messages.
The country seems to be (fingers crossed) finally emerging from this COVID crisis and I think now is the perfect time for us to allow ourselves to unfurl, unclench, and unwind. We don't need to be on high alert. We don't need to rush, plan, or tick items off a to-do list.
It's time for us all to sit still and relax. To have wholesome experiences throwing stones into creeks, explore walking trails, read books, cook, play board games, and talk about things that matter to us.
Breathing. Exhaling. Truly relaxing for the first time this year.
I think we all need it.