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10 Lessons I’ve Learned from the Coronavirus Stay-In-Place

Woman holding baby during coronavirus stay-in-place order

Perhaps you suspected that the coronavirus stay-in-place order would eventually be issued for everyone. Sure enough, state by state, for school or workplace, young or old, sick or well, nearly all of us were told to stay at home. We groaned. Yet, parents, grandparents, children and anyone in between can gain wisdom from this crisis. Here are 10 lessons I’ve learned or re-learned.

It’s tempting to fall into the scarcity mindset

I admit it. I often fight with myself to determine if I’m falling into the scarcity mindset, or if I’m preparing for a 2-week or more quarantine.

Depending on where you live, there’s been little or no toilet paper on the shelves in grocery stores since about early March. And, packages of toilet paper are hard to come by online. Is this a symptom of hoarding from the people with a scarcity mindset? Or is it a badge of honor among those who are trying to stay out of harm’s way, or plan ahead?

I’ve heard reports that some people bought hundreds of rolls of toilet paper. Is it true? I don’t know. The folks at estimate that “[t]he average user has 500% more toilet paper than they need for quarantine.” Hmmmmm.  

Similarly, some people can’t buy diapers. I’ve given some suggestions for how to deal with that during the coronavirus stay-in-place order.   

Planning ahead is good. Hoarding isn’t. Where’s the line between them? I doubt there’s a shortage of supply here. The US imports less than 10% of its toilet paper, and about 150 US companies make toilet paper. So, are we seeing a panicked over-demand? Like the coronavirus, panic is contagious.   

Panic behavior and a scarcity mindset is detrimental to individuals and society, whereas an abundance mindset is beneficial.

My mother taught me well

I’ve also remembered my mother admonishing me: Wait your turn in line! Think about somebody other than yourself! Wash your hands!

My mother didn’t use Windex™ or Formula 409™ or other commercial cleaning products. But since the coronavirus stay-in-place order, I’m sticking to simple products my mother used, like baking soda and vinegar, or remembering how to make a 10% bleach solution. (Take note, do not mix vinegar and bleach.)

Even after our mothers are gone, they are still very influential.

I touch my face many times in a day

Try this: Rub your hands with an onion. You’ll soon become aware of how many times you put your hands up to your face.

Until now, I never realized how much I rub my eyes, scratch my nose, stroke my chin, tug on my earlobe, or pull a little seed from between my teeth.

I’m beginning to see the wisdom of the coronavirus stay-in-place order! We touch ordinary things, and then we touch our faces. Think about grocery carts, card readers, and gas nozzles. That’s a big set-up for getting the virus.

Meal-planning is key with the coronavirus stay-in-place order

I work at my office upwards of 60 hours a week. More often than not, I wing it when it comes to meals. Some mornings, I forget to put something in the Crock-Pot™ or pull something out of the freezer. Come evening, I just tell hubby we need to go out for a meal.

No wonder I’ve gained so many pounds over the last several years.

With the coronavirus stay-in-place order, authorities are now urging us buy two weeks’ worth of groceries during our shopping trip. And, we’ll need to plan meals around what we find — or don’t find — at the grocery store.

Planning is key. Not only for meals, but for life.

Food lasts long after the printed date

When the pandemic scares started happening, I was teaching my live Lactation Exam Review course and my Comprehensive Lactation Course in multiple different states.

So, when I got home, I saw the eggs that had been in my refrigerator for a couple of months. My first inclination was to toss them. But, with Google as my friend, I re-visited what I’d always known: Eggs will last for a long time past their sell-by date. I watched several videos showing how to tell if eggs are safe to eat; the videos here and here were the best.

I didn’t have fresh milk, but there was a 2-year old can in my pantry. Sure enough, canned milk lasts about 18-24 months past the date on the can. From the bottom of my freezer, I dug out a somewhat dry block of cheddar cheese. Voila! Mac and cheese, coming up!

My perception of myself doesn’t match with my actual behaviors

I pride myself on never wasting food. I throw limp vegetables into a soup or roll them into a casserole. I freeze ripe avocados I can’t use that day. I just finished dicing up a sad-looking apple to fold into a homemade oat muffin batter. But since the coronavirus stay-in-place order, I have learned that I waste more than I realized.

In the back of my pantry I found some commercially-made bread crumbs, still in the package, and dated 2013. Ugh. I didn’t even bother to look at how long they were good for. I pitched them and some other outdated stuff.

We all have more agency than what we realize

As the great Tony Robbins has often said, we can’t always change our circumstances, but we can always change our reaction to those circumstances. With the coronavirus stay-in-place order and the threat of the coronavirus, we’ve learned that how we usually react won’t necessarily work right now.

Instead, we have had to stay flexible, change our usual routines, and substitute our “usual” foods or products. (Maybe you’ve already found that canned chicken can be doctored up to taste quite good.)

Sometimes, we have to go without

Someone was complaining to me that she couldn’t find the cereal she wanted, or her favorite brand of English muffins. Yeah, well, I couldn’t find any of my favorite fresh fruit or fresh veggies.

The YMCA isn’t open, so I can’t go there. Everyone on my team is working from home, so no one is at the office to change the printer’s ink cartridge for me. (My most un-favorite job!) Sometimes, we just have to go without — or do something we’d rather not do.

And we’ve all gone without hand sanitizer for weeks. Guess what? We’re still here.

Perspective is important

The coronavirus stay-in-place order has helped me to understand that pretty much everything can change overnight.

Here’s a quote attributed to Bill Keane: “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift, which is why we call it the present.”

Having an attitude of gratitude is a game-changer

If your family isn’t in the habit of saying grace at mealtime, maybe now is a good time to start. It doesn’t need to be formal. It doesn’t even need to be “religious.” But if the grocery store shelves don’t have meat, eggs, milk, or toilet paper, it helps to focus on being thankful for what we have.

As author Alice Morse Earl pointed out, “Every day may not be good … but there’s something good in every day.”

I am getting a longer and longer list of things and people I’m grateful. But right now, I’m grateful you’re reading this post.

How are you dealing with the coronavirus stay-in-place order? What tips can you share? Tell me your thoughts below!

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  1. Dr Mahima Pandit

    oh wow marie. this is wonderful . your post speaks of positivity. having a toddler and a family of ten in india. yet i wait for online comprehensive lactation class of yours to energise and feel myself. your words and voice , both are reassuring that the good is on its way. proud to be a minimalist too

    • Marie Biancuzzo

      I’d so glad it all resonated for you! Congratulations on what seems to be a fulfilling family life for you along with your courage to take on a course! Yes, I do have my very new 90-hour all-online course, which I’m excited about because it’s not just “remote” learning. (We just launched it a few weeks ago.) Thank you for reading and for your comment (and be sure to subscribe!)

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