Welcome to the big redesign! From small improvements to life-changing decisions, the country is in a profound period of change. You may have heard of the Great Resignation, but we prefer to view this new era as an opportunity to truly choose your own future. Get inspired as you explore our Great Reimagination series to make 2022 the year of your big dreams.
When COVID-19 hit the United States in March 2020, many of us had to hit the pause button. Schools and office jobs became remote, non-essential travel was halted and those of us not considered essential workers crouched for a scary and unsafe few weeks. Over two years later, the pandemic is still not over. Schools are back up and most offices have called workers back to their cubicles, at least part-time. But the lives we have returned to are not the ones we left in early 2020 after our society had a rare opportunity to step back, take stock of our priorities and make difficult choices for a post-pandemic world.
Good housekeeping wanted to know what that looks like and asked more than 2,600 readers about it. The results showed that people of all ages, income levels, employment backgrounds, and family compositions are making changes—many of them. The vast majority of respondents (84%) are currently taking stock of their lives and are considering making changes to improve health, careers, spirituality or relationships. As one reader put it, “I’m cleaning up my life to focus on what’s really important.”
Our finances have shifted
Many readers commented that things like grocery bills, gas for the car, and other household expenses have gone up, but they don’t see pay rises to the same extent. The “big resignation” is also noticeable among GH readers, with many job changes, part-time jobs or start-ups in recent years. “I wanted a better work-life balance and also felt motivated to do work that matters and makes a difference,” said one respondent. “I chose to choose projects based on passion, not paychecks.” Older respondents were less likely to save, especially those who have retired.
while almost 50% of respondents said they spend or save about the same amount like they did before the pandemic, 36% save more than before. Retirees have seen the fewest changes in their savings habits, likely because their income is less flexible. And the readers are also participating in the change in staff: 35% of readers got a new job in the last two years.
We focus on our health
From trying meditation to cooking at home to starting a new exercise program, many of us are giving new attention to our bodies and minds.
- 15% started meditating and stayed with it and 21% felt more spiritual than before the pandemic began. Some readers thought the slower pace of the shutdown had given them time to think more consciously about their lives, while others found comfort and solace in religious practices.
- 40% started (and stuck with!) a new exercise program. As gyms and exercise classes closed, many people took up home exercise, including online exercise classes, and some took the opportunity to try new fitness options (like roller skating!).
- 58% started cooking more and 44% changed their diet. Most people who started cooking also said they made time to eat together as a family or tried to focus more on healthy habits.
And some took a holistic approach. As one reader remarked, “I’ve decided to focus on myself and making sure I’m as happy and healthy as possible. I think feeling like I don’t have as much control during the pandemic has probably made me look for things I can control in my own life.”
The family dynamic has also shifted
With fewer places to go, many of us have grown closer to our loved ones over the past two years — at least physically.
- 61% of families spent more time together in the first two years of the pandemic. Many reported college-age children returning home when schools closed or young adult offspring briefly returning to the nest, leading to unexpected family time with these members. and 16% of people have adopted a new furry friendbecause families do not have to be of the same species.
- With distance learning for some time and many parents working from home, 47% said their kids got more screen timeat least in the first phase of the pandemic.
- But increased home time together didn’t necessarily mean kids were relying more on mom and dad: 32% said their children have become more independent learn new ways to entertain themselves and lean into creative possibilities when the playground wasn’t an option during recess.
And some parents noticed a new appreciation for the village it takes to raise a child. “I was able to experience firsthand how hard it is to teach my children and it made me appreciate their teachers all the more,” said one.
Relationships have evolved, for better and for worse
Many couples in particular have found their marriages or relationships strengthened by spending more time together, including 25% who found their friendships grew stronger, although quite a few said they wished they had more alone time during the early lockdowns. Many people found their families growing closer, but the pandemic has also stressed some bonds.
Many people began reevaluating their relationships with friends and support networks when forced to physically distance themselves, with many readers noting that they began to be more conscious about who they stayed in touch with and who fell by the wayside. That may matter 21% of those surveyed stated that friends had grown apart during the last two years. “Some of my friendships have disappeared because I realized I wanted real and meaningful relationships, so I decided to pursue those after the quarantines were lifted. I found out who real friends are,” explained one reader.
Lizz Schumer covers Pets, Culture, Lifestyle, Books, Entertainment and more Good housekeepingEditor-in-Chief of ; she also contributes women’s Day and prevention. She has also written food and lifestyle content for The New York Times, HuffPost, VinePair and many others. When she’s not texting, Lizz can be found Instagramming about her food or playing with her dog, Jerry.