How we are adjusting our lives amidst this pandemic.
There are so many lessons that this pandemic has taught me.
1.The importance of family and bonding with them.
2.How simplifying our lives can help us ensure sustainability.
3. Building an emergency fund if you don’t already have one.
4. The fact that we have lost touch with some of our homesteading characteristics over time; perhaps it is time to start refining those skills again, so in the event of another pandemic, we can be more self reliant.
The importance of maintaining preparedness will help make sure we do not enter a panic situation, which we all know is currently driving supply at retailers all over our nation. Idealistically we would all be able to be self sustaining, which means having less reliance on fossil fuels, the power grid, and other companies for our food and other resources. Obviously that might be idealistic, but it is something I have given quite a bit of thought to during this pandemic. I am also looking for ways to substitute for items we need on a daily basis that might not be available because of panic purchasers.
Because of these lessons, I have been working on this post.
I am not a financial guru, a doctor or other healthcare professional, or a professional organizer; I am just a Mom blogger looking for ways we can work on refining our processes within our own home and to allow us better preparedness in the event we need to deal with this again. God willing we won’t, and I am not talking about all out doomsday prepping with underground bunkers or anything that drastic, but I think with some re-introduction to some of the basic skills we lost over the generations, and the use of our advancements to make it more possible to be self sustaining we can manage to create a life for ourselves and our families that can still thrive during difficult times like this.
Let us start with the family bonding. We have spent far more time in the same building as our children the last couple of months, but are we truly bonding with them? My daughter has continued to work through this pandemic as an essential employee, but my son (who is a High School Freshman) has been home, but this generation seems to be more introverted. They communicate via text and snap chat vs in person, and sometimes if you over explain a concept it appears that you might be getting angry or too stern, and it could make them distance themselves more.
So how can we disconnect them from their technology and connect with them on a personal loving and understanding way?
Well one thing I am super grateful for is that my children respect me, and they rarely get terse with me. So when our children ask if they can help, take the opportunity to teach them a life skill, or find one together to explore in greater depth.
Like making your own cleaning supplies from non-toxic and easier to find ingredients like peroxide,vinegar, and dish soap. Show them how to do laundry, dishes, or other household tasks. Start a garden together, and once you are producing vegetables explore canning and preservation; having your children be a part of it, so that they can have those skills as well. This helps prepare them for life.
Play card games or board games with them; sure a movie night is great on occasion, but a game where you are sharing communication and laughter is so good for your relationship, so they know that not everything has to be serious all of the time. Taking the kids away from their screens for even a couple hours here and there will be good for them.
Have you ever asked yourself what you need to survive? What is it that you and you’re your family can and can’t live without? Or what brings you joy or beauty to your life? Those are some life changing questions you should ask yourself right now. Ask yourself what things satisfy one of those 3 things, and what things don’t. Anything that doesn’t fit those 3 criteria should be sold, donated, repurposed, or thrown away. Those items do not serve you well, and you can make better use of the space it is taking up.
You can approach this in several different ways. I prefer to do it room by room, so you can separate things by utilizing another room without things getting too mixed up. Another way that is effective that I have tried is setting up a pile for sell/donate/repurpose/and garbage, and go through enough items that you have put a pre-selected amount in each pile. I only repurpose something if I can make it into something that I need or will bring joy/beauty to my life or to gift. If you stick to this system you should be able to take care of your whole home in no time.
An emergency fund is important for any of life’s unexpected events. You just don’t know when job loss or inflated costs will have an effect on your life. How much do you need? Well, different finance professionals will advise different dollar amounts. Of course more is better, but not everyone has an income that can support setting aside thousands of dollars each month to build on it. So start with an amount that is within reach. Such as $1000, then try to build up to 1 month of lost wages, 3 months, 6 months. Most situations will not require you to have to go without for longer than that, but I will never tell someone to stop setting money aside if they can.
Preparedness and Efforts to be self sustaining
I know during this pandemic I have asked myself what I would do if the power grid went down. We do have 2 small generators which are great for small emergencies, but those run off of gas. So what other options do we have for a longer term solution.
The use of solar panels is one option.
I know some people who have solar panels, but they are hooked up to the grid, so basically what is run by solar is then taken off of their electric bill, and in some months when they are giving more power than they are using they will get a check from the electric company. Which doesn’t really sound like a bad deal, but what does that mean if the power goes out? Well, if the power grid goes down, the solar panels will not power their home. So you would need to have a system in place to just provide the power to your generator or batteries and have those batteries supply your home. This is something I am looking at a little more closely now, but it is something worth mentioning to help others kind of think about that for their futures as well.
There is also wind power.
The huge wind turbines are expensive, but are they an investment that will pay off? Well, they do have small systems that less expensive, and offers both wind and solar options for alternative energy. Granted you wouldn’t be able to power your whole home with this system, but you could keep essential items plugged in, and maybe alternate some of the non-essential items to charge batteries etc. to see what the solar and wind power is capable of. This is kind of a compromise between purchasing large systems, and if it does the trick for you and your family, maybe consider a larger system.
Preparedness and stockpiling
How do we prepare without looking like a hoarder? How much do you keep on-hand? When this pandemic began people starting rushing to the grocery store to buy everything they thought they would need for months of isolation. This forced retailers to limit the quantities of certain items if you could find them at all (yes, one of those items is toilet paper, another is sanitizer). Because of this I am emphasizing the importance of planning ahead so you are not stuck without those essential items should this happen again.
Storage can sometimes be an issue, but if you have simplified your home, you have likely created space. You can have furniture that plays double duty as functional storage. Canned and dehydrated goods can be stored for years. Frozen fruits and vegetables can usually keep from one season to the next. And pantry staples like flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and seasonings all keep for long periods of time as well. So as long as you are rotating your stock in those supplies as well as your toiletries/hygiene items; it is completely feasible to have a months supply of those items at any given time. Frozen meat and baked goods will freeze for months as well, so you can well prepare yourself in those items as well.
Growing your own food.
We have a small property at just half an acre, but we have always had a small garden. The last couple of years we have experimented with our planting, and the volume of what we are planting. Our growing season is fairly short, so planning is huge. This year I started growing seeds earlier, and growing vertically in my kitchen. We are also experimenting with container planting, so that we can move the plants to more or less sun exposure if needed, or if we see that rabbits or deer are eating our vegetables we can better control the losses.
We have blackberry bushes and a couple of apple trees on the property, and a couple years ago I started to make a homemade apple butter that is to die for, you can find that recipe here! Last year we planted a couple of different apple trees on the other side of our property, it probably won’t bear any fruit for about 5 more years, but if this pandemic circles back around we should have some extra fruit. One fruit I have not started growing yet, but I plan to in the near future is strawberries. I always remember my grandmother having an abundance of strawberry bushes, and she and my mother would make the best strawberry jam.
If you are interested in more resources for canning or dehydrating your own food, you can check out these inexpensive resources:
What about honey? Or Maple syrup? Those are things you can produce on your homestead as well. Sorgum/Maple syrup/ and Honey are all produced and well sought after, so if you produce more than what you think you could use in a season, you can sell what you have left.
Our bodies require ample water to survive.
When the pandemic began and people began to panic, water was one of those essential items that were being bought up like crazy. If you have a well, you should be okay so long as you have a power source for your well pump, or a hand pump alternative to your well. For those of you without access to a well, water does store for a long period of time.
They have also come up with these really cool options that filter water even from some of the dirtiest places. Here are links to life straws, filtration bottles, and filtration pitchers. All of these options are practical and fairly inexpensive.
Our dependence on paper goods has become very evident during this pandemic. It has retailers and factories challenged to keep paper goods on the shelves because they are in such great demand. So what are alternatives that we can use when toilet paper or paper towels are not available? Here are some alternatives that are readily available.
In connection with the paper product shortage there is also a shortage of disinfectant wipes, sanitizer, and masks.
There are many ways to disinfect your space and keep your hands clean. There are some alternatives that panic buyers may not have considered, as I have still been able to find ample of. First off, one lucky thing is that the Covid19 virus can actually be killed by regular soaps and detergent. It is a virus not bacterial, so it doesn’t necessarily have to be an anti-bacterial product.
Going forward though, there may be situations that do require things to kill bacteria. There are homemade options to kill both. I already rely on dish soap mixed with vinegar and a little peroxide to clean multiple surfaces. This kills both viruses and bacteria. Bleach is another alternative; one gallon of bleach can go a long way. I have actually been using Listerine or a Listerine alternative (from the dollar tree) to kill germs in our shower and sink, and so far have not run into a shortage of it. There are also some books (some that are actually free), that have homemade alternatives to disinfectant, masks, toilet paper, and sanitizer. Here are some of what is available.
The next area to address is first aid. It used to be that if you had an injury or illness you could make an appointment and head to your local doctors office with little or no fear of catching something. Many times when we are sick it is a bug that is taking longer to get over than the 10 days we allow. Now before we go ahead, just a reminder that I am not a doctor nor am I advising for or against any type of medical care. Just figuring since we are all in this together I would share my personal thoughts about my families care under these conditions, and how to better prepare ourselves in the event we need to deal with similar circumstances in the future.
I have a compromised immune system and require regular care as well as many prescription medications that are closely monitored by my care team in order to maintain a stable condition. And I am forced to look at not only my care, but my families care. If one of us becomes exposed I will likely get sick, and it will take my body longer to recover. It is just a fact that I have been forced to face. So going forward this is what my first aid preparation plan will look like.
A tote….which will contain the following.
Rescue inhalers (3 of the 4 family members in our household have asthma, so it is feasible that we have one for each person available in our first aid kit in addition to the ones we carry).
A hefty amount of gauze and first aid tape as well as different size band-aids, wound closure strips, and liquid stitches.
Triple antibiotic ointment for minor scratches and scrapes.
Benadryl (again most of our family has allergies, so it should be taken into consideration when planning). An allergic reaction can send one of them to the hospital if not treated, and that could be prevented by keeping allergy medicine on hand.
Hydrocortisone cream for minor stings, burns, and rashes.
A bottle of rubbing alcohol and a bottle of peroxide to clean and prep affected areas.
A container of antacid tablets and a bottle of pepto bismal.
A scissors, tweezers, nail clippers, resistance band, and poly-gloves (we can’t use latex because our son is allergic), q-tips, and cotton balls.
Ice packs, or instant cold compress.
A first aid guide and a user guide for alternative medicine.
Acetaminophen, Ibuprofen, decongestant, and cough suppressant.
I will link to additional resources that I am considering adding to my first aid supply. I also have purchased aloe vera plants and essential oils to have on hand that I will link to. As well as an easier option for a first aid kit if you want to be prepared without having to keep a checklist.
Here are links to some of the other above mentioned items to make it easier for you. As well as a couple extra survival tools that I plan to add to my tote as a “just in case precaution”.
One of the last things I wanted to share with you is my feelings about our digital world and how it affects our preparation going forward in our household.
So, in our household technology is HUGE, we are all addicted to our devices. Our laptops, phones, and smart TV’s. I am sure like many other households, we have wondered what would happen if the internet just stopped working? Well, that would be a drastic lifestyle change right there. Not just for entertainment value, but because many of us (myself included) depend on the internet for research.
Google and Pinterest are two of my best friends, and I am only slightly kidding. If you viewed my Pinterest profile you’d see that I spend an abundance of time pinning, and of course many of those pins are of useful information that I either reference often or plan to in the future. What if I can’t access those things anymore? What if my e-books or cloud files/pictures were no longer accessible? This definitely calls for some planning going forward. So, this is my plan people…. And since we are all together in this pandemic, I will share it with you.
We need to go back to the basics here.
I am going to get a large binder or two, and arrange information that I reference frequently, a collection of my most used recipes from pinterest, homesteading tips, and first aid tips, and I am going to organize them into these binders. As I finish them I will share them with you, so you can see what I do or don’t have, and I hope you will share yours with me as well if you are doing the same thing. I already have an important documents binder that I put together a couple years ago. You can find that here. So I am hoping to have more helpful information to share with you as I go through this prepping process as well.
I hope that the post has encouraged you to prepare and not panic, I certainly am not saying to go out and buy all of these things now, but acquire them as your budget and time permits if you so choose. Sometimes the panic that sets in is more dangerous than the situations we face. Our circumstances today have never been experienced by our generations before (at least not most of us), and it will hopefully not arise again, but there’s never a guarantee. So let’s get through this together, and if you want to follow me, we can prepare together too.