Real Joys

13 Dec 2021

Aussies have a newfound appreciation for the simple things that bring them joy, as lockdowns change attitudes towards what really matters in life.

Grateful for what we once took for granted, the top three joys for Aussie families are going for walks or doing other exercise, watching movies and shows together and simply sharing what’s going on in each other’s lives, according to our latest Real Joys 2021 Report.

The Real Joys 2021 Report explores life’s simple joys experienced by Australian parents and families during the pandemic and recent lockdowns. It reveals the attitudes of parents and how they are feeling about the festive season, reuniting with family, holiday travel and what they are most grateful for as we enter a new year.

Most Aussie parents learned to flip life into a new perspective during the recent lockdowns, embracing the extra time they have with their families at home (71%). In fact, many will miss the extra time we spend with family as we go back to life as we remember it (63%), whereas others are happy to return to their pre-lockdown life (26%). 

As most have relatives that live interstate or overseas (70%), reconnecting with extended family this festive season is what matters most to parents, more so than gift giving (71%) — though most still plan to shop and celebrate our freedoms following another year of lockdowns (61%).

With the holiday season on our doorstep, about a quarter of parents have already booked a trip to catch up with relatives and friends (27%). Most of those getting ready to pack their suitcases will be travelling within their home state (41%), though nearly as many are planning on going interstate (40%). Some eager travellers are even getting passports ready to fly overseas as national borders reopen (16%).

Reunions with grandparents and grandchildren are pencilled in for the festive season, with some people seeing them for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020. One in 20 (5%) are even meeting their grandparents and grandchildren for the first time ever!

However, not all of us are ready to travel just yet. In fact, our study found that most surveyed are still apprehensive about venturing far from home (75%), even though we dearly miss our loved ones.

For now, Aussie families would rather stay safe and have a low-key holiday season (78%) as we close off the year and reflect on the simple joys in life with our loved ones.

A visual representation of data from the Real Simple Joys report

Heading into 2022 with more gratitude

Tough times have shifted our priorities in life. In addition to having more appreciation for the simple things (67%), Aussie parents are also more grateful for each other (63%), the shared joys in life (58%) and being able to spend time with loved ones (51%).

For about 2 in 5 parents, priorities have also changed around health and wellbeing, protecting the future of the family, valuing experiences over assets and being present in the moment. 

Additionally, pets have played a crucial role in the wellbeing of Aussie families throughout the lockdowns — providing companionship, uplifting our spirits and helping us cope at home. Most families with animals feel the pandemic elevated the importance of their pet’s role in the family (62%).

With the new year nearly upon us, the things that Aussie parents are most grateful for — family, wellbeing, and friends — show just how precious health and human connection are.

Family Psychologist, Clare Rowe, shares advice for Australian families reconnecting this holiday season and offers tips on how to continue practising mindfulness as we return to a new normal: “Slow down. You don’t have to say yes to every invite and social function. Decide as a family what is important to you and prioritise time together, rest and relaxation. Commit to family rituals and routines over the Christmas break – this could be simple mealtimes around a table or daily walks together. Avoid the 24/7 media cycle and make clear distinctions in your day for quality time and fun activities. For instance, baking, playing boardgames or watching a movie together. These simple moments in our day assist in fostering family connection and create feelings of belonging and memories.”

Download full research report