How in the world are we supposed to conquer a crisis with a smile on our face? It seems impossible! No matter which way you turn, we seem to find an obstacle in our path. Grocery store shelves are empty. Our employment is on hold.
Unfortunately, many of us are facing a crisis – through pandemic, yes. But some of us were there before it hit – through job loss, health issues, or economic strains, such as so many dairy farmers (and other farmers). We are living it. And there was no extended warning, so we didn’t have time to prepare.
How do you go into crisis or survival mode – and still keep a smile in your heart and on your face – when you know it is just a matter of time before the bill collectors are breathing down your neck, or already are?
We might throw a pity party, but can’t afford the balloons, much less the cupcakes. We could hide under the bed, but the dust bunnies are already in fighting mode to jealously guard what is theirs. So what do we do?
I firmly believe that we need to stay calm, think things through and get busy surviving. We may not have luxuries. Things may still be tight. But just knowing we have done everything within our power can help give us peace, and keep a smile on our faces.
Here are a few ways you can face the dilemma head on:
1. Pray – It Helps you Face any Crisis with a Smile
Before you do anything else, the one thing that has the best chance of getting you through this is prayer. Believe it or not, God has long since known you would be in this position, and He already had plans in place to get you out.
It isn’t an instant fix, but it can give you the strong foundation you need from which to work. Take the time to listen. His wisdom is always so much better than ours. And keep your faith and trust in Him. This is where contentment stems from – Him.
2. Take Inventory
One of the biggest burdens on a budget is food. Whether you are a family of two or twenty, in order to make it through this latest crisis, you need to stay healthy. One of the least expensive ways to feed your family is to cook at home.
Go through your pantry, your refrigerator and your freezer. Make a list of everything you have – from the canned goods to the spices to that last piece of frozen garlic bread. Know what you have on hand.
Then head over to the recipe box and cookbooks on the shelf. Grab paper and pencil, and begin making a menu. Find recipes that incorporate all, or at least the majority, of what you already have.
Even if you have never made bread before, you can still bake biscuits and batter rolls – both of which make great sandwich bread. If you are missing a few ingredients, make it your goal to work with what is left on the grocery store shelves.
If possible, purchase as many basics as possible (flour, baking soda, salt, cornmeal and other staples).
3. The ‘Other’ List
Make a separate list of what you can ration – water, gasoline, electric, gas, etc. Know what you have, what you need, and how you can use it to your advantage.
Toilet paper is one thing that is in short supply right now. A suitable replacement would be facial tissue and diaper wipes. Or, you can simply supply each person in your household three or four personal cloths. Use, rinse, wash (preferably with bleach), reuse.
We keep a set of washcloths on hand for use to clean our cow’s udder while milking. They come ten to a pack and are inexpensive. We purchased a second set for us to use when our toilet paper runs out.
Another option is to simply jump in the bathtub, wash off, and move forward.
Although water and other household utilities are still available, it is still a good idea to conserve as much as possible. This will help to lower your bills. Those savings can help keep the bills manageable while your re-establish yourself with employment.
4. Gather Your Tools
If I had to make a list of survival tools that we have, I would begin with ‘our knowledge and wits’. Living on a farm, on a shoe-string budget, has honed our knowledge and wit skills to a fine edge.
We are constantly in the process of learning to improvise by using what we already have. We think outside the box so much, I honestly believe the ‘box’ has long since been composted with the rest of the cow manure and vegetable peels.
If knowledge and wits are #1 on your list, make #2 your skills. List them all – from scrubbing floors to college degrees. If you have a skill, you can use it.
5. Start a Garden
That may sound strange, but when in crisis mode, you not only have to think about right now, but also down the line.
Starting a garden should be close to the top of the list. Even if all you have is a few pots, start a tomato plant and some lettuce or fresh spinach.
Once you have that established, begin working on a larger growing area. If you live in an apartment, begin by collecting five-gallon buckets, pots, and containers. Be sure they will hold up to soil and water.
If they do not have drain holes, be sure to drill some in the bottom. Add a layer of small gravel for drainage, and then fill with nutrition-rich soil, according to the needs of your plants.
If you have a yard, consider adding vegetables between the flowers, or building a new bed altogether.
From there, you can start from seed, or buy plants. If at all possible, go for heirloom varieties, as you can save the seeds from year to year.
Some vegetables are fast growers, such as lettuce, some greens and radishes. Others, such as tomatoes, squash and peppers take more time. Either way, you will be well on your way to establishing a food source.
Keep in mind – most lettuce and leafy greens are cool season crops, but you can extend your season with a cold frame. Plus, it has been suggested that eating leafy greens may help to lower stress, and while in crisis mode, you need all the help you can get!
5. Leave Tomorrow Alone
I know I am contradicting myself here, since I just said that you need to think ‘down the line’. But truthfully, that only applies to the gardening aspect. In reality, you cannot do today what you imagine will need to be done tomorrow.
The only certainty you have is right now – right this minute. Something you do today may very well change the course of tomorrow, so it is wasting time to figure out how to ‘fix’ that worry of tomorrow, when it may not need to be ‘fixed’ at all.
Instead, focus on just today. Make a list of what you must do – send in job applications; look at your checking account balance and pay at least one bill, if you can; feed your family; even call the electric, gas, and water companies and discuss possible delayed payments.
6. Desperate Measures
Facing a crisis with a smile is difficult when it comes to money issues. If you desperately need money, see if you can find enough items around the house that you really don’t need and offer them through online sales.
If you have larger items, consider Craigslist or the local Facebook Market. I do advise caution with both of these, or any other online means of advertising. Never give your address. Instead, be willing to meet in a busy area, such as a parking lot. And when you leave, please make sure you aren’t followed.
I do understand and respect the fact that meeting anyone, anywhere, for any reason may not be an option at this time. However, you can still ‘earmark’ larger items for sale.
Using a sticky note, write in your preferred price, including the lowest amount you will take. Write a description of the piece. When we are able to get out from under any Stay At Home Mandate, have everything ready to go and advertise.
I know. I sound paranoid, but this world is uncertain, and we don’t want to take chances. Never accept a check from a stranger. And if possible, find a store who is willing to let you use one of their bill-checking pens. It is always better to be safe than sorry.
You can also look into doing work online. Some folks may need computer work done, such as a personal assistant, billing, or other employment that can be done from home. Many bloggers will allow you to write posts for them, or schedule to Social Media.
Or, create an online class for children. If you are a teacher it can be academic. If you are creative, it can be a craft class. Who knows – you may find enough of them to keep your bills paid until another option comes along.
Everyone has to go through survival mode at some point in their life. The human tendency is to panic and scramble wildly looking for solutions. Instead, just take a deep breath, pray and hunker down for the duration. And believe…
7. This Too Shall Pass
Nothing stays the same forever. As we face each crisis in our lives we know we can find our way through.
With each step we take, we learn a little more. The more we learn, the more we grow. And the more we grow, the stronger our faith. We know we can face whatever life tosses at us – and face that crisis with a smile on our face.
It may also be the time to regroup. Take some time for yourself. Find a quiet place. Think about where you are, and where you would like to go. What changes would you like to make?
Grab a paper and pen, and begin making goals towards a new Lifestyle Plan. Have the courage to become the person you were mean to be!
These are just a few tips you can use to help you cope in any crisis. I know there are many of you who have the tee shirt for these situations, so any tips you may have to share would be great to have. Just leave a comment below so we can all learn from each other!