How to Hunker Down

My family and friends used to think we were weird for always keeping a full pantry and packages of toilet paper under the beds. They don't think it's so weird now.

While everyone else was racing to the store and grabbing cases of water and toilet paper, I was trying to decide if I wanted lime or orange sherbet. I know. These are the great debates in my life.

There's comfort in being prepared, but that's only half the story. The real hardship is hunkering down when you don't know how.

We're such a mobile people that it's hard for us to simply stop and stay put for more than a few hours at a time. We're going to work, going to school, going to eat, going to the gym, or going shopping.

Our lifestyle is insane. Not even sixty years ago, going to a city 30 miles away was an all day event--and a real event too. Today we're zipping around from one distraction to another.

But what happens when we have to stop?

All across the US and even the world, leaders are asking us to stay home if at all possible. It's not about just your health, it's about the health of your grandparents, or your kids, or your coworkers who might not be able to fend off illness as well as you can. Even if we get Covid 19 and recover without incident, we're carriers, and we can inadvertently pass it on to others who can't recover.

Hunkering down is a perfectly logical step and it's so easy with a little prep. Think of it as a staycation. How nice it is depends entirely on you.

At this point in time, you're probably hard pressed to find hand sanitizer, toilet paper, or anti-viral wipes. That's an inconvenience, but not a deal breaker. You can make do in other ways.

Although quarantine is technically at 14 days, don't count on it. Here's why.
  • What if more than one person in your home got sick? It's possible that all of you didn't get sick at the same time, thereby extending the quarantine.
  • Also, remember Maria's Rule on planning for emergencies. Whatever the experts tell you, triple it. Experts are never right, so I err on the side of caution.
  • Lastly, consider human panic. People have already emptied shelves. If you shop at the last minute, you take the chance the things you need most won't be there.

So how can you hunker down comfortably for two months at a time?

Take an inventory of what you already have. Will it last two months without replenishing?
  • Toilet paper: Being generous, let's allow each person in the house one roll per week. That's 8 rolls for two months.
  • Soap: Bar soap lasts months at my house. Liquid soap half as long. Buy one bar of soap for each person and one large bottle of liquid soap for the family.
  • Alcohol: Buy three 16 ounce bottles for everyday cleaning and to make your own antiviral wipes.
  • Paper towels: I normally use cloth, but paper towels are better for cleaning areas that are breeding grounds for viruses. A 4-roll package should suffice for two months. Or do what I do and buy the big rolls of brown paper that businesses use in their bathrooms and for clean up. Lasts forever and cheaper in the long run.
  • Facial tissue: Unless someone is sick, you probably won't need much, but keeping a couple of extra boxes is good in case someone is wasteful with his toilet paper allotment.
  • Want to lower your TP usage? Invest in an after-market bidet. They're especially useful and frugal.  They come in all price ranges, but here's one that's nicely priced and with good reviews.

Food: If you're used to eating out this will be the worst part of hunkering down. You'll actually have to cook and plan your meals. Here are some tips:

  • Vary your meals. If it's chicken one night, make it fish the next. 
  • Use one protein in different meals. For example hamburger can be used for tacos, spaghetti meat sauce, chili, meat loaf, lasagna, shepherd's pie, sloppy joes, hot nachos, Mexican lasagna, and of course, burgers.
  • Vary the sides. I've found if I vary the side dishes, hubby doesn't care that I served leftovers.
  • Make an effort on dessert. This one is hard for me because hubs has dietary restrictions. If no one in your household has that limitation, I'd surprise them with a cake or pie.
  • Keep snacks. Stock up on fresh fruit, chips, cookies, jerky, granola, and nuts.
  • Don't waste money on foods you've never tried. During crises, people stock up on tinned meat and freeze dried foods only to discover no one likes them. Stick to the food your family likes.

If you take any prescriptions make sure you have enough to last you the entire month before you hunker down. If necessary have the prescription delivered to your home.
Stock up on OTC drugs like:
  • aspirin/ibuprofen
  • Nyquil
  • allergy medicine
  • cough medicine
  • Pepto Bismol
  • vitamins 
  • First Aid Kit: People still scrape knees and cut fingers. Be prepared.
  • moisturizer (All those alcohol wipes are drying out your skin.) 
I don't like going to the pharmacy when it's normal out there, so I really avoid it now. Order online and stay safe.
    The most tedious thing about hunkering down is keeping yourself distracted. Before, you'd go shopping, head to the movies, the game, or eat out. Now you have to do all that at home.

    It's spring so I have lots to do in the garden. For those of you who are normal (without a crazy plant obsession), you'll have to find something that gets you humming. What do you like to do?
    • If eating out is your passion, you might give everyone in the family a turn at being the cook, or being the guest of honor.
    •  Movies? Binge watch on Hulu or Amazon Prime. Watch those DVDs you haven't touched in ages.
    •  Books? Immerse yourself in a book far away from your way of life.
    •  Games? If you have kids, you need games. Keep them occupied at work and play.
    •  And here's a novel idea...get some rest. Take a nap, soak in a tub, or get your teenager to give you a manicure. (Make sure to leave her a tip.) 

    Hunkering down is not hard. It's just a different way of life. Do it for two weeks at a time and extend it as necessary. Keep your supplies stocked and put one person in charge of morale for every day you're in isolation. This way no one feels he's carrying all the burden. S/he might pick the movie or game for the night, or pick the menu.

    Remember too, you don't have to go out to shop. Order online and have it delivered. While some supplies might be out of stock or limited, you don't need as much as you think.

    • Instead of alcohol for disinfecting: use bleach or hydrogen peroxide.
    • Instead of toilet paper: use baby wipes, napkins, paper towels (halved), facial tissue, or buy an aftermarket bidet.
    • Instead of bottled soap or hand sanitizer: use old fashioned bar soap

    You'll disinfect less if you're not going out and bringing back who knows what. Clean your house, clean your kids, and wash your hands. Boom. You're done. No one goes out and everyone chips in around the house.

    Hubby is a little stir crazy right now. (He loves to eat out.) We've been in isolation a little over a week. I kind of like hunkering down. No visitors, no appointments, and I can stay in my pajamas all day if I want.

    Are you staying indoors, or do you have to go to work? If you're working, you have my respect and admiration. I hope there are less people for you to deal with.

    Embrace the alone time with your family. Bring back movie night, family meals, and conversation. Although conveniences might be absent, it's bringing back a lot of things we should've never lost. Family.

    I have a sinking feeling that things are going to get worse before they get better. Get your stuff today please. I want everyone to stay safe.

    Here are two other articles on fighting Covid-19 you might like.
    How To Fight Coronavirus at Home
    What You Need to Know About Coronavirus

    PS  I watched a movie the other day on Amazon Prime. It's called JoJo Rabbit. The story of a fanatical Nazi boy who finds a Jewish girl hiding in his house. Greg and I are still talking about. Not as dark as it seems. It's got a quirky comical streak running throughout the movie. Great performances from all.


    Jackie said…
    Maria, we are living in an age of too much "misinformation" and right now our stores look like an actual war zone.

    Zombie Apocalypse or not you would think nothing could be this bad, never thought I would live to see it in my lifetime anyway.

    However seeing is believing and our household is affected worse than some others as we only have one driver in the family and he is an asthmatic, at risk and still having to go to work as well as shop for items we still need to replenish thanks to being caught unprepared.

    Judy said…
    I already work from home and Bob works in the outdoors, away from people, so not much has changed here. I'm not so concerned for three of my four children. One is a teacher, one is already working from home, and the other is in school (already online). My fourth, though, owns her own small restaurant. Things are tough for her right now.
    Robin King Hunt said…

    Hello dear friend! Thanks from me for being a logical sense of reason in turbulent times. All your suggestions are great ones. No church, no school, all events in Tyler and East Texas canceled...maybe I will do an acrylic pour painting today and finish the new Stephen King book that I started. I also am having fun with the Instant Pot that my adult kids gave me at Christmas. I've had great luck with it. Tim is NOT stir-crazy because he works out of the house now and is perfectly content to be home. Me, not so much....but over the weekend I realized that I am a quadruple high-risk for the virus. I'm over 60, have chronic bronchitis, an autoimmune disorder and high blood pressure...wheeee! But otherwise I am healthy and happy, but being cautious. I really feel for the people that this has directly and financially effected, and all of the medical personnel putting everything on the line to tend to the "new normal" at dr's offices across the country. Stay healthy my friend and keep blogging! Hugs to both you and Greg. Robin
    Maria Zannini said…
    Jackie: I'd use the delivery services they have now for grocery stores. You're a prime candidate for those. Less stress on Karl too. Stay safe, my friend.
    Maria Zannini said…
    Judy: I'm sorry to hear about your fourth child. Things will get better though. Like the Spanish flu, this one will run its course, and hopefully next year we'll also have a vaccine. I hope she can hang on until then.

    The hardest hit will be the small business owner. We all need to rally to them when we can.
    Maria Zannini said…
    Hi Robin! You know me. Ever the stick in the mud. :)

    Like you, I'm prone to respiratory illness so I take this virus seriously. And Greg has his own problems. Not to mention we're old!

    re: instant pot
    I love my Instapot! We use it a lot actually.

    Take care, hon. Stay safe.
    Stacy McKitrick said…
    Staying at home is not an issue for me, since I do that anyway. And I don't think it will be one for Hubby, except he likes to walk around and talk. That doesn't bode well for me when I'm trying to write.

    Right now he's working from home. His boss is trying to get his whole department to do that (it's IT, so easier for them). But … the owner of the company doesn't like that and wants everyone at work! Hubby can't afford to get sick. If he has to, he'll retire before going back and then the company will be in a world of hurt (they're having troubles finding his replacement as it is, and Hubby has given a retirement date of Feb 2023). Hopefully, the owner comes around.

    And while I hate to cook, I do know how to do it (the restaurants are only open for take-out, no dine-in), and we do have our daughter to pick up take out on those days we're tired of my cooking! Haha!
    Mike Keyton said…
    Your toilet paper reference put me in mind of a Civil Service directive in the 1960's restricting Lighthouse Keepers to just two small squares of toilet tissue a day!. They must have had very small bottoms.

    Ref get your teenager to give you a manicure. I don't think either myself or my son is quite ready for that.

    Take care
    Maria Zannini said…
    Stacy: It would serve that boss right if he quit. That's just ridiculous to take such chances especially with your hubby's condition.

    You might need a sign outside your door. "Please make an appointment for conversation." LOL!
    Maria Zannini said…
    Mike: They better be squares the size of diapers. That's crazy.

    Bidet is the way to go. I want one. We're thinking of remodeling a guest bathroom and I'm hoping I can talk Greg into modifying the new toilet.
    B.E. Sanderson said…
    We're basically hermits anyway. I don't have a problem with not going places... until I can't go places, then I get a little stir crazy.

    Thanks for all the suggestions. Good advice all. The only thing I'd add is if you can, go outside. Walk. Hike. Fish. We're kind of stuck right now because it's been pouring rain, but as soon as the weather clears, I'm going to the lake to drown worms.
    Maria Zannini said…

    re: I don't have a problem with not going places... until I can't go places

    That is so me. I don't ever want to go anywhere unless someone tells me I can't.

    re: walk, hike, fish
    Those things might be a little harder in NY or Chicago, but perfectly doable if you live in a small town. The virus is only on contact, and only airborne for a few feet from an infected person.
    LD Masterson said…
    I think you saw on Facebook what I did to keep occupied when hunkered down...we adopted little Mandy. (I'll tell you more about her in an email.) Our son Matt is delivering groceries to us, as needed, and Stan and I are in "make it last" mode. I stocked up on noodles - they're a great meal extender we both enjoy.

    I'm feeling bad for my grandkids who have all had their school year cut short, but mostly for Lily who's a high school senior. They emptied their lockers yesterday with no plans to go back. So no prom, no final symphonic band concert, no senior walk, and as of now, no graduation. Not tragic but seriously disappointing.

    You and Greg stay safe. I have faith that we'll all get through this.