Okay, so maybe that’s not what this time in history will be remembered as, but it’s catchy, don’t you think? All kidding aside, the world is experiencing a pandemic of Covid19 right now… a respiratory illness that can cause pneumonia or pneumonia-like symptoms for the people who catch it. Some people are carriers and don’t know it, others have died because they caught it. People have been panicked, and yes, the toilet paper has been consistently sold out for almost two weeks.
I’ve never seen anything like this before. People are afraid and panicked today. Yet a week ago, if you suggested to somebody that they might want to start stocking up, they’d have laughed you off as “crazy.” (That seems to be the favorite term to use right now.) But on Friday, when the state of Wisconsin (among others) called off all public school for the foreseeable future, people stopped laughing. People stopped shrugging it off. When the government put a ban on gatherings larger than 100, they got concerned. Yesterday, it was gatherings of 50, and today we’re down to 10. Yes, just 10 people at a social gathering, and who knows what they’ll say tomorrow or the next day? I have a pretty good idea, but I won’t speculate. The thing is, now people are just afraid.
I don’t want to poke the bear, stir the pot, fan the flames… I won’t give you my two-cents on the subject. I’m keeping a journal of that, because I don’t feel it’s appropriate that we share online. No, instead, I am going to give you ideas of how to get through The Great Toilet Paper Crisis of 2020.
This whole situation has put a lot of people in a really uncomfortable situation. A lot of you have never considered how you might get through something like this. You haven’t thought of what you’d do if you couldn’t get to the grocery store, or what it’d be like to have your kids home besides at just summer vacation. And you feel lost. I get it. Please, don’t panic, because it’s not gonna solve a single problem to panic.
Every single day, pray. I’m Catholic, and I’ll be praying the Rosary every single day until this thing passes over us. But you don’t have to pray the rosary. Just say a prayer every day. If you don’t know where to start, just say, “God, please help us.” Start small, start simple, and you will be okay.
Look for the silver lining.
It’s there, I guarantee it! Don’t worry about the financial end of things. Instead of seeing money you can’t earn because you can’t go to work, look at all of the ways you can try saving money during the quarantine. Instead of being upset that you can’t go to work, be thankful for the time you can spend with your kids, or be grateful for the free-time you have to deep clean your home, or organize the photos, or talk on the phone with somebody you haven’t had time to connect with. This doesn’t have to be a bad thing. If you are having a hard time finding the silver lining, connect with me in the comments, through email, or through Instagram and PM me.
Try something new.
You’re stuck at home. You can’t go to the movies. You can’t go to your favorite restaurant. So cook at home. Learn how to bake cookies. Come up with an elaborate home movie night. Make your own maple syrup with the tree in your backyard (but do it while the sap is flowing!… you can cook it in a nesco oven if you have one, or on your stovetop.) Get some seeds and try gardening. Learn how to sew or paint or fix something. Don’t know what to try your hand at? Check out Pinterest. Want to do something, but don’t know how to do it? YouTube has got you covered. There’s pretty much a video for everything you could imagine.
Start a journal.
This is unlike anything we’ve ever experienced before. It’s a unique time in history, and we should be documenting it. Instead of sharing all of your fears and worries and anger or hatred on Facebook or some other online source, write out your experience in a journal. Keep your online presence positive. You can journal on the computer if you want, or by hand. Doesn’t matter. Have kids? Have them keep their own journal, or interview them every once in a while, see what they have to say and where their hearts and heads are at. You don’t have to ask them to tell you about the virus or the quarantine. Most kids won’t be thinking about it all the time unless you talk about it all the time. Track the timeline, record your feelings (present and past) about the situation.
Start a Bible Study.
No, I’m not suggesting you break quarantine. Organize a Bible study with your friends or family. Text or email them, or talk on the phone to set things up and discuss. Don’t really want to do one with other people? That’s okay, too. You can read your Bible alone. If you want prompting, there are apps out there for that. They’ll give you your reading assignment. Keep a notebook with the things you learned. Use a dictionary to look up words you aren’t familiar with.
I’m going to be real with you… this could really hit a lot of people very hard, financially. But don’t let that get you down. If all of this blows over, and you aren’t hit too hard, the money you have saved, could go a long way to helping you rebound from this. It might also be “extra” for you, and maybe you can put it towards something like a vacation (long after this blows over), or paying off debt, or replacing something you’ve been putting off. Come up with a reward for yourself at the end of this, and make a game of it.
The biggest way you can save money right now is through how you eat. Cook your own food as much as possible. When you are able to go do a bit of shopping, don’t shop for packaged foods, but shop for ingredients. Potatoes and apples are fresh foods that store well for a long time, and aren’t typically too expensive. Popcorn seeds are cheap, and you can have a fast, easy snack… you can dress it up with salt or butter or oil, or if you are feeling adventurous, make some caramel corn, popcorn balls, or something along those lines. When you are able to, buy in bulk. Obviously, this might not be a great idea for everybody, but I can promise you that it will save you money. Buy the 25lb bag of flour, not the 5lb bag. Buy the big jar of yeast, not the small packets. Don’t buy for this week, buy for a month. But also, please don’t hoard.
The next way you can save money is on entertainment. Now, I know a lot of you are going to “need” your Netflix right now, but maybe you don’t? If you’ve got kids, pull out the board games, go play a game outside of Kick the Can, teach them games from your childhood, and my favorite? Read a book. Now, as a homeschooler, I read to my kids ALL THE TIME. Most of our school work is me reading to the kids, and they love it. I know libraries are closing, and not everybody has as many books as we do, but if you have a computer, a smart phone, a tablet, or an e-reader, you can rent e-books through your library, or find free ones through varying sources like Kindle for Amazon. Not everything is free on there, but I have purchased a lot of books for just under a dollar. Work on photo albums together, watch home movies…
I know, this is a tricky one, what with all the “social distancing” and the bans on social gatherings. But find somebody and do something good for them. I’m thinking about doing something for my neighbors. We don’t have to visit, but we might be able to drop off a care package or a note. Just something to say that we’re thinking of them, and to let them know they are loved. A friend of mine said she might make soap for some of the people she knows. Maybe you could paint a picture, write a letter, make some soup, talk to them on the phone, write a letter.
If you aren’t tight on cash, you might want to consider buying extra supplies when you can, not so much for yourself as to help others with. There are so many people out there that cannot afford to stock a pantry. They cannot afford to have their kids stay home from school, they cannot afford to miss work. Make a point of donating essentials to the food pantries. Diapers, wipes, toilet paper, cleaning supplies, dry or canned goods… People need to know that they are loved by a God who cares deeply, and by strangers they’ve never met. Don’t just donate what you don’t want out of your pantry, think about what they want and need. And don’t go with the mentality of “beggers can’t be choosers.” Think about how you’d feel in their situation.
People are scared and they will feel alone. Not having church is going to be so hard on more people than we know. Not being able to visit the elderly is going to be painful. My father-in-law has developed pneumonia every time he’s gotten a cold for the last 6 or 7 years, and it means my kids can’t hug him right now, and we probably won’t be able to see them without maintain distance. That’s a really, really sad thing for all of us. For me, my kids, my husband, my father-in-law, and my mother-in-law. But we don’t need to be scared, and while we might feel sad, we shouldn’t let it bring us down. It just means we need to figure out new ways to connect with our loved ones.
Be kind and considerate.
And I would like to take a minute to remind people to be kind to others, not just by helping them, but by remembering to watch your words. Let us not call others “crazy” because they stocked up on toilet paper or frozen pizza. Let’s not make fun of them for the choices they made to get prepared for this time of crisis. Most people have never given a thought to what they’d do in a situation like this. Instead of bashing, let’s be encouraging. People are afraid of getting sick. They are afraid of not having money. They are worried about their children. They are worried about how this is going to affect the nation and the world. How we all react, how we handle ourselves is going to affect how we come out of this in the end.
Please don’t forget that there are people out there who can’t stay at home. There are so many people who are working throughout this whole thing so that you can stay home and stay healthy. The mail is still going, deliveries are being made, your electricity is still on, the grocery stores are doing what they can to stay stocked, you still have clean water, the farmers are still doing their thing, and the health care workers are doing whatever they can to help. I spoke with a nurse at the hospital recently, and she said they had to start locking supply closets because family members of patients were stealing face masks, hand sanitizers and toilet paper. Stealing isn’t okay just because you are scared. Putting the people who are there to help at risk because you are panicked is not kind or generous. Make sure to thank them for all they do.
I hope that The Great Toilet Paper Crisis of 2020 doesn’t have you too burdened with fear or worry. God loves each and every one of you, yes, even those who do not believe. He loves you, without condition. He loves you without limits. May God bless you all!