For any of you that know me, I am not usually a germaphobe. I’ve brushed dirt off of food on a camping trip and eaten it after I’ve washed my hands using a canteen and some dish soap. I’m not constantly disinfecting or using hand sanitizer. I do practice common sense though. If I encounter a customer that is coughing all over the counter or something at the flower shop that I worked in, I would thoroughly wash my hands and also wipe down the counter. No need to willfully expose myself and other to germs. But for the most part, I wouldn’t consider myself an overly cautious person when it comes to germs. A little immunity boosting is good, right?
I must admit though, that I am more cautious now. I have been practicing social distancing and shelter-in-place in our home for 21 days now. I have only left the house 3 times during this period- 2 for groceries, once for prescriptions. 2 of those 3 times, I have worn some sort of facial covering. I have seen too many people not taking this social distancing seriously. They get too close to you, they don’t care and some are even coughing. (I know it might be allergies, but still) Also, there seem to be more people out at stores now than there was before. I get that it’s the only place that we’re allowed to go, but it seems crazy to me.
To get through this with my sanity intact and try not to become sick myself, I have come up with my own personal ways of doing things now. There is a lot of information flying around out there about how to avoid this and that and what you should and should not do and ways the disease is transmitted. Reading all of it will give you a headache. I started to get really anxious because I didn’t know what to believe. Then I remembered by Girl Scout and Boy Scout training, my first aid training, my wilderness survival training and my own “Mom” common sense. I am a smart enough person to find ways that I feel comfortable to keep my family safe with what I already know. That made me feel a lot better and helped me regain some sense of control over this. I thought I’d share with you some of the things we’ve been doing to keep ourselves safe and sane during these crazy unprecendented times.
I Wash my Hands a lot More Often
This has been one of the main things that the CDC, WHO and pretty much every health professional has been recommending. It’s simple, wash your hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds. Get all the parts clean. Really scrub before you rinse them off. Do this whenever you feel like your hands might not be clean. I even do this when I am at home and haven’t been outside the house. You know when one of your kids has a nasty stomach virus and you don’t want to catch it? That’s how often I have been washing my hands.
I TRY Not to Touch my Face
Apparently, my favorite thing to do in all the world, is touch my face. I never realized how often I did it until they told us to stop doing it. This is hard to do, but you only have to avoid touching your face if you don’t have clean hands. So, see my first point- keep your hands clean, and then you can gloriously touch your face all you want.
I Wear a Face Covering When I Go Out
I know there is a ton of back and forth on this and a lot of different information about whether or not this is a good idea or even effective. What I have decided was that I read an article from a trusted scientific source about what were the best homemade mask materials and I found a pattern online and made my own. It’s made from two different t-shirts and a house Hepa filter I ordered from Lowes. The outside is a heavyweight t-shirt and the inside is a lighter, softer t-shirt material. There’s a pocket for the filter or even a regular surgical mask if you have one. I made the decision that wearing this out makes me feel safer and less anxious about going to the grocery store, so I wear it. I also made the decision to ignore anyone else’s comments about it and/or any looks I get while I am wearing it out. I don’t care. This is what I need to do to feel safe when I go out. This is something I can control, so I am doing it. Do I think it’s keeping me 100% safe? No, but it does give me the peace of mind I need to feel less scared when I have to go out and get my family food.
I am Careful With My Groceries
Again, there are a ton of videos on the internet that will show you how to wipe down all of your groceries one by one. How to soak your veggies and how to store your food. I have watched them and they made me go a little crazy thinking about the amount of effort it would take to get food into this house. I also made sure I watched videos of health professionals talking about how they grocery shop. From all of the information I gathered, I once again made my own decision about what it would take for me to feel safe about handling my groceries. Am I making the right choice? Who knows, but at least I feel better knowing that I have a system in place that makes me feel safe and that doesn’t take me 9 hours to put away my food.
If you are interested in my system, I’ll share. I go to the store with a list but know that I will probably have to shift my needs based on what’s available, so I try to be flexible. For example, there haven’t been a lot of full sized rolls left when I go, so we’ve been making everything on slider rolls/dinner rolls. Hamburgers? Cut them in half and use slider rolls. Turkey sandwiches? Slider rolls. It works. I stopped stressing about stuff I have no control over. I also stopped bringing my resusable bags. I feel terrible about this, but most stores stopped letting you use them anyway. Once I bring all the groceries in, I put the bags on the floor in my kitchen. I wash my hands before I touch the groceries again. I put all the groceries away like I normally would. Then I throw all the bags out.
Before I go out to the store, I only put my car key, my one credit card and my license in my pocket. I have my cell phone too. Anything that I had with me when I go out, gets put on the counter once I get home and wiped down. Then I wipe down the entire counter and clean the floor that the bags were sitting on. After everything is put away and sanitized inside, I take wipes and go out to my car and wipe down everything I touched- my steering wheel, the door handles, the radio buttons, the gear shift, everything. I work my way back inside with the wipes and sanitize the doorknobs and the door where I may have touched it on the way in and out. I clean the sink handles and the pantry door knob. and any part of the door I may have touched.
I strip all of my clothes off, and my mask and put them in the washing machine. I wash my hands again. Then I go turn on the washing machine, only touching the knobs with clean hands.
I do not wipe down all of my groceries. I wash my hands before I cook and then again before I eat. From what I have read, there hasn’t been any evidence of people getting it from food packaging, so I struck a balance in my life as to what I feel is safe and that’s why I do what I do.
Let me tell you though, that this process takes a while and it’s exhausting. I try to limit what I touch in my house the whole time I am bringing in the groceries and it’s mentally draining. It’s why we’ve been trying to shop for two weeks at a time and make the most of what we have and what we’re able to purchase.
I Made a Spreadsheet with Our Food Inventory and a Menu
This, I admit, is probably excessive, but it’s one of the ways that makes me feel better about a situation that I can’t control. I can control our food supply and make sure that I am making healthy food for my family. (Most of them would just eat Chex Mix all day or pizza for every meal if I left it to them.)
I Limit my Time on Facebook
It would be so easy to just spend hours scrolling on Facebook now that we all have a little extra time and I was doing that for a while at first, trying to find information about what was going on and how to handle things during this pandemic. I had to stop though as it was making me crazy. There are people fighting, people posting a lot of bad information and a lot of things that were put out there just to scare people. The worst was when I accidentally read an article before bed and then just laid awake overthinking everything. I asked myself why was I doing this?? It needed to stop for my sanity’s sake. I still talk to friends and interact with their posts but I have snoozed some things and people and also, keep my Facebook time to a minimum.
We Only Watch the News Twice a Day
My husband, Scott, is one of those people that, during a snowstorm, will watch the news all day even though it’s just filled with different reporters standing in different towns reporting snow totals. It’s not useful information and it doesn’t change that often.
At the beginning of this, around March 13, we were watching the news a lot because things were rapidly evolving and from one hour to the next, things were closing and information about the numbers were rolling in at a fast pace. What I found, personally, from watching all that news was that I was being mentally bombarded with all of this information and fear. I couldn’t process it like I normally would and between that and the initial shock over this whole situation, I was so stressed out.
Now that we are a month into this shelter-in-place situation, we only watch our governor’s press conference and the nightly world news. In fact, this past week, I’ve only been reading the bullet points from the governor’s news conference instead of watching it. He posts a lot of stuff to Facebook and I’ve signed up for the text alerts. I had to find a balance between getting the latest information and driving myself completely nuts from watching too much news. So figure out what works for you in regards to getting your news.
I Cut Myself and My Family Members Some Slack
Could I be home formulating a plan for my business so that I can jump back into making money once this situation is over? Probably. Can I be reorganizing and cleaning my entire house? Definitely. Do I have days where I don’t feel like doing anything except sitting on my couch playing a video game or reading a book? Yes.
For the first two weeks I was home, I felt like I was in panic mode. We had to figure out what was going on with Dillon’s college, and Casey’s classes. How were they going to work remotely? All of Dillon’s stuff is still up in his dorm in MA as he was home for Spring Break when this all hit. I had only been weekly grocery shopping and didn’t have a pantry or freezer full of food and the shelves at the supermarket were bare. ( I had TP though! LOL) Plus, my youngest son, Casey was home with the flu for the first week. I was at crictical max for the amount of things I could handle mentally. Rather than also stress out about not wanting to clean or feeling like I should be more productive, I cut myself some slack. I let myself take a day or two to rest and do nothing. (For the most part, moms rarely do “nothing”)
Same goes for the kids. They were getting upset about not being able to turn in work because the teachers hadn’t set up some of the classroom stuff correctly and they were panicking. I told them that everyone was learning how to deal with this new technology and a lot of teachers only had days, if not hours to set up to teach remotely. I suggested they email their teachers and tell them what was happening. And honestly, as much as they both are striving for straight As, and I highly encourage that, no one would fault them for not getting that this semester. If I’m feeling this mentally foggy, then they are as well. It’s like learning in a war zone. So just be patient and know that we are all struggling with this to some degree.
I am Finding Different Ways to Deal with Stress
Everyone has different tolerances and levels of stress and different ways of dealing with it. Some people like to reach out and call their friends, some people would prefer not to talk to anyone. I have been trying to find a way to deal with my stress levels. Some days are better than others. Today, I feel like I have some control over our situation, other days I just want to lay in bed and cry. Some days I’m up for reading my book or watching Netflix. Other days I feel like I need to be productive and I clean a room in my house. Find what works for you and your family.
Thanks for reading this! I hope it helped some of you a little. It’s so weird to be living through a time like this in history and I thought it would be helpful to document what I’m feeling and what we are doing. I know I would have been interested to read about a family member or friend that lived through the plague or another sort of historical event in time. I am trying to document things that I see while I am out too, to show how quickly our normal everyday lives have changed. Stay well my friends! Let me know if you have any cool ways of doing certain things that you’d like to share. Drop a comment below or on my Facebook page.