How to Feel More Self-Reliant in Uncertain Times

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I know that many of us are feeling a little fearful and uncertain right now. The world is changing rapidly, and we’re feeling a loss of control over our lives. I want to share with you a few things you can do, to put yourself back in the driver’s seat of your life, and to feel more self-reliant during these uncertain times.

just in time delivery system toilet paper

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Just-In-Time Delivery System

Our grocery stores and department stores depend on something called the Just-In-Time delivery system.

Basically, they keep enough inventory on hand to last for 3 days, under normal circumstances. They depend on the wheels of manufacturing and delivery to keep turning, and to replace things just as they run out.

As we have seen in recent weeks, the Just-In-Time delivery system has its drawbacks. It means that during times of crisis and panic, store shelves can be depleted very, very quickly.

The more that we can provide for ourselves, the less reliant we are on this system. While I’m grateful we have access to stores, for reasons of convenience, I’m also grateful that we can learn not to need them if it comes to that.

It may come to the point where we will not be allowed to leave our houses at all. If that happens, will you have what you need?

Here are some ways you can feel more self-reliant during these uncertain times, and be less dependent on the Just-In-Time delivery system.

Use Reusables

  • As much as possible, try to swap out your disposables for reusables.

Our family has been on a quest to reduce our waste for many years, not just for environmental reasons, but also because our dependence on disposable products makes us dependent on external inputs to keep our lives functioning as normal.

However, using reusables means that we can carry on our lives without having to go to the store and buy things.

Most of these items have an upfront investment cost, but in total, will save you THOUSANDS of dollars by not having to buy the disposable versions for the rest of your life.

Menstrual Products

  • Diva Cup

I’ve used a Diva cup for YEARS, and it’s the best thing ever. Just wash and re-use. I have probably saved thousands of dollars in menstrual products, just in the time I’ve been using this cup. Not to mention all the waste that was diverted from the landfill.

I use cloth pads as backup for my heavy days, and instead of the cup on light days.

Ideally, you’ll want enough to get through your whole cycle without washing them (so you can wash them all at once). I’d say around a dozen is a good number to start with. You’ll want varying lengths and thicknesses for different parts of your cycle, and for night use.

If you’ve got a sewing machine, and some old flannel material hanging around your house, you can easily make these yourself. Even with little to no sewing skills, you can find tons of tutorials online.

(This would be a fun activity to do with your daughters while you’re stuck at home!).

These are ones that I made, but I included a link where you can purchase some above, if you don’t want to make your own.

cloth menstrual pads

Cleaning products

Razors

  • Safety razor & blades

Blades for safety razors are very inexpensive, and last a very long time. I shave daily, and only change my blade about once a month.

15 blades are $6.99 and would last you over a year!

Not to mention you will never have to replace your razor – you’ll be able to pass it down to your kids. This is the brand I have, and it’s very durable.

Diapers, wipes, pull-ups, etc.

  • Invest in cloth diapers, wipes, pull-ups.

There are TONS of modern cloth diapers available today – and everyone has their own preferences. But my personal favourite was simple cotton pre-folds and wool diaper covers. Easy to wash, dry, and care for. And no synthetics on your baby’s skin.

I knit my own covers, but you can purchase them if you’d prefer. 3 or 4 covers would be plenty, as wool is naturally antibacterial and water resistant, so you don’t need to wash them every time. Just cycle through them and let them dry thoroughly.

(The diapers themselves though of course have to be washed after each use). I simply kept a lidded pail next to our changing station, and tossed them in. Once I started running low on diapers, I threw them in the wash.

You’ll need some kind of fastener to hold the diaper closed – these are the ones I used and liked (much safer than diaper pins!).

This will pay for itself 100x over – cloth diapers (or pull-ups, or wipes) are a one-time purchase and will save you thousands of dollars during the time you have kids in diapers or pull-ups. When you’re finished with them, you can even re-sell them and get some of your money back! (Yes, people do buy 2nd hand diapers!). Great for the environment, your wallet, AND makes you less dependent on stores keeping these disposable products in stock.

Cloth wipes can be simply designated washcloths, or old flannel sheets cut into squares (serge or zig zag the edges so they don’t fray).

You can also get cloth pull-ups for the potty training stage – these work better than cloth diapers because they can pull them up or down themselves! You’ll only need a few, as you’ll be washing them every couple of days.

Toilet Paper

  • Family cloth (if necessary).

Our family does use toilet paper, but if it came down to it, we’d have no issue using family cloth. If you’ve ever cloth diapered, you know that this is no big deal. When my kids were in cloth diapers, we also used cloth wipes, and just threw them in with the diaper laundry. We likely wouldn’t go back to this unless necessary, but I also won’t freak out if we run out of toilet paper.

Just keep a lidded bucket in your bathroom, toss them in there, then when you’re close to running out, throw them in the wash. You might think it sounds gross, but it is truly no big deal, and you could do it if you had to.

This post about reducing waste will give you more ideas about how to ditch those disposables.

Grow Food

  • Order & start seeds.
starting seeds for self-reliance

If you’ve never gardened before, or if you normally buy seedlings, use this opportunity to start your own seeds!

This is the perfect time to start your seeds indoors. Use this time wisely. Starting your own seeds saves you money, and also means you can grow a wider variety of plants. You can also purchase non-GMO, heirloom seeds, which are important for keeping older varieties of food around.

NOW is the time to get your seeds. Even if you can’t start them right away, you will have them.

If you have a local hardware store or nursery, and they are still open, support them by going there to buy seeds.

hardware store seeds heirloom self-reliance

If you’re in Canada, I love ordering from Terra Edibles. They are a local seed company, and many of their seeds are organic & heirloom. Right now they are offering free shipping on all orders (this is of course subject to change in the future – but they still want their customers to be able to access their seeds, even if they are social distancing or self-isolating).

  • Garden wherever you are

Whether you live in the country, the city, or in an apartment – you can grow SOMETHING. If you’ve never gardened before, you will be shocked at how good it feels to grow something for yourself that you can eat.

If you have a yard at all, I’d highly recommend the Square Foot Gardening method. Even just one raised bed will allow you to grow a significant amount of food for your family. 

Finances

  • Pay off your credit cards and stop using them. Remember that the borrower is slave to the lender. The less people you owe money to, the more you are in control of your own life. Instead, switch to a cash (or debit) economy.
  • Use envelope budgeting to manage your expenses. This is especially important if your income could shrink or disappear over the next little while. You can either use a digital method like I do, or use old fashioned paper envelopes and put cash in them.

Reduce Expenses

Economic uncertainty is inevitable during this crisis.

Prepare your family by seeing what expenses you can cut back on. Learn the difference between luxuries and necessities. You can trim expenses in multiple categories – it might not seem like much, but every little bit makes a difference.

See if you can shave 10% off each of the following:

  • Food
  • Electricity
  • Heat
  • Cell phone bill
  • Internet

If you have cable, cancel it.

We haven’t had cable in over a decade, and have not missed it one bit. We have Netflix, and can watch a show or a movie any time we want. It might not be the most current season, but who cares, as long as it’s one we haven’t seen yet.

It’s great to have evening entertainment that takes your mind off things.

  • Use your clothes line
a laundry system that works - clothesline

With your extra time at home, hang your laundry on the clothesline or on a drying rack instead of using the dryer.

Re-Localize

  • Support local businesses and growers

There is no better time to bolster your local economy. Look to your local growers, artisans, and businesses and see what you can source from them.

Our local farmers market has been ordered to close, but the amazing vendors are offering free delivery to anyone who wants it. Our farmers still have food to sell, it has been locally grown and stored, and they still need customers to buy it!

Support your local farmers. Same goes for all local businesses.

See what they’re offering.

Many are now offering delivery – I have been amazed at how our business owners are adapting to our current health and economic crisis and making sure their customers are taken care of.

Frankly, we need them as much as they need us. I wouldn’t be surprised if this crisis forces us to re-localize, which is truly what our planet desperately needs right now.

Homeschool

  • Learn real skills
kid planting a garden

Skip over the academic stuff (they have the rest of their lives to get that from a classroom), and seize this opportunity to learn new skills as a family.

Take up gardening, teach them to cook and make things from scratch, clean out a closet together, read books, learn to ferment something, take up knitting, or canning, or sewing.

These are real skills that will serve us well during this time.

Check out this post on 25 Homemaking Skills You should know, for some ideas.

Make Your Own Products

  • Learn to make your own cleaners & personal care products

It’s incredibly simple to learn to make your own cleaning products & personal care products. This will save you an incredible amount of money, and will also keep you out of the stores. Just keeping a few basic supplies on hand will make it possible to make things for your family without having to leave your house.

I hope this gives you a bit of inspiration for how you can feel more self-reliant in uncertain times.

Share in the comments some of the things you’re doing to climb back into the driver’s seat of your life.

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