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:
- allergy medicine
- cough medicine
- Pepto Bismol
- First Aid Kit: People still scrape knees and cut fingers. Be prepared.
- moisturizer (All those alcohol wipes are drying out your skin.)
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.