Before COVID19, the number 19 could have sounded arbitrary. For me, it had tremendous significance. Throughout 2019 Kelly’s 19 was a repeating event on our family’s electronic calendar; it popped up every Monday. If I hadn’t created a “public” weekly reminder, I would never have been as committed.
I decided I was living with too much stuff. Can you relate?! In celebration of 2019, I committed to letting go of 19 items a month. I wish I had documented my journey better but I’ll focus on the photos I can share:
The idea started December 31, 2018 while unpacking from our winter vacation.. I realized I had lived out of a suitcase for 2 weeks without wearing everything AND was returning to a full closet of clothes.
It was easy at first; some clothes no longer fit. Others items no longer fit my life. Puzzles and rarely used cookbooks plus lids with no bottoms started leaving the house in greater numbers.
228 items later, I am still looking for things to shed: articles of clothing and stuff we no longer use. It is a slower process but letting go is always top of mind.
A question asked at every Seder is Mah Nishtanah: what is different?
During Covid-19 social distancing we could ask: “What isn’t Different?! Despite celebrating alone, we wish you a Healthy and Happy Holiday.
With our homes transformed — for the holiday or for the ability to “be” with friends and family virtually — we wish you smooth meals with much less clean up than you might be used to. And fewer family dynamics (this year you might be able to mute anyone who annoys you ;).
This APR, invest in A Pantry Revamp! It won’t cost much more than time. And we promise, following our advice will feed you!
Passover, Easter and sheltering at home present the perfect pre-holiday and quarantine-induced motivation to be intentional about what and where you store edibles.
Pantry Revamp Benefits:
Tuning in to your household’s nutritional needs and tastes offers instant pay-offs…The larger your household, the greater the benefit • Stress levels go way down • Meal prep gets easier • Maintenance becomes manageable • Decrease food waste
Pantry Revamp Parameters:
Use a pre-school approach by creating zones. Which zones you define are yours to decide; no two pantries need be the same but every pantry requires these 5 steps.
1. Get Set You’ll need a designated surface to sort your goods. • A study card table or folding banquet table works so you don’t hold your kitchen or dining room table hostage for the duration of the project.
2. Clear Out While you’re emptying your shelves, cabinets, drawers or closet: • Eliminate expired foods, spices and condiments. • Group like with like
3. Clean Up Wipe out every surface before you move anything back in
4. Sort and Decide This is the MEAT of the project — even if you’re vegetarian. All of your decisions get made about where your zones will live and what zones make the most sense. • Don’t be afraid to consult with other family members. • Group like with like. • Admit when you won’t make something and eliminate it from your stockpile; we grant permission to let it go!
5. Put Back and Label by Category • Channel our favorite approach of using what you have on hand to containerize, categorize and store your faves within reach. • Move each variety of food into its new storage home according to how often you use it or who needs to reach it. • Label Your Categories so everyone in your household understands how to put things away. • Ensure that what you need most is in easiest reach
In this age of government mandated quarantines, you may be without the outside cleaning help you’ve come to rely upon. A loyal reader asked our advice for cleaning routines in this “new normal.”
We recommend the “Tackle a Different Task Each Day” approach and offer this Sample Schedule—Adjust as necessary
• Monday: Clothes Laundry — gone are the lenient days for rewearing clothing — be diligent about single wear/use everything • Tuesday: Kitchen — scrub and sanitize everything (but the floors) • Wednesday: Bathrooms — scrub, sanitize and sparkle all hard surfaces • Thursday: Floors — shake out rugs, sweep, mop, vacuum • Friday: Linen Laundry — Decide the frequency you want for changing the linens. If your household produced a lot of clothes laundry consider doing towels and bed-linens separately • Saturday/Sunday:“De-Clutter” — pick up and put away anything out
Rule #1 This new normal requires a new approach: You’re NOT duplicating a professional housecleaner’s approach. They were paid to deep clean and dust picture frames and reflective surfaces. YOU are dusting, vacuuming and sanitizing to maintain a healthy environment.
Rule #2 Eliminate not-in-use rooms — you’re not entertaining visitors Your cleaning service may have cleaned your house top to bottom. YOU should only clean rooms and areas that are in use. To ensure you don’t overdo it and tire/bore/burn-out from this large and looming task, focus on the priorities: a safe household to lift your spirits while you are spending more time at home.
STEP 1: Declutter so you CAN clean Before cleaning, clear your surfaces so your scrubbing efforts aren’t frustrated by starting and stopping to put items away.
STEP 2: Create a Sustainable Schedule: think task-batching It may turn out that you HATE wiping down countertops but you love scrubbing tubs and showers. Your kids may discover they like going systematically through the house wiping down doorknobs and light switches but abhor dealing with the vacuum. Barter, get creative, incentivize if you must!
STEP 3: Daily must-do’s keep contagions away A task-a-day works for the sweeping categories like floors and bathrooms but doorknobs, light switches, keyboards and remotes (the high use, high touch) items in your house are daily “musts.”
If cleaning is new to you – be especially open to tweaking your schedule.Announce to your family if you don’t live alone, that the whole schedule is flexible – and it’s all one big experiment.
We are not working hands-on in homes right now but we are available by email, phone and text to support your efforts. We are still your cheerleaders! Let us know what you’re up to.
Socially distancing can be difficult on lots of levels. How well we adapt to change will depend partly on our mindset and the tools available to us to cope with change. Some of us love the freer flow to the day (Joy) and others find the change unsettling (Kelly).
We are not therapists but we are going through the same adjustment. We suggest you:
Recognize What Is Missing From Your Life due to social distancing guidelines and Find Healthy Substitutes
If group exercise or your gym kept you sane: • follow a video or online option for exercise • the great outdoors await (and if you’re in Wynnewood, our dogs are available as “loaners” 😉 If you crave social interaction: • switch from in-person to online — a positive form of screen time • go retro and call friends, neighbors or extended family
If engaging your kids is a struggle: enlist the help of grandparents or out of town relatives to do story-time, play a game online or share family recipes over Facetime • take advantage of more home-based time to enjoy your family and live in the here and now…current Galfand favorites:
Code Names or The Game: everyone plays toward a common goal If alone time is your thing: • institute a quiet hour within your household • be flexible swapping roles with your partner/kids/housemates in exchange for a little solitude… If you are missing a sense of purpose: • check in on extended family members or neighbors by phone • cook or bake for others within walking distanceand follow extreme hygienic kitchen practices Lost revenue is the hardest to combat: • you can (and probably will be forced to) scale back on-line shopping • get creative with food prep using items from your pantry; it’s money already spent. You can find a recipe on-line for almost anything!
Our monthly themed blogs are BACK! (Chalk their return up to 1 positive of social-distancing).
This MAR: Make Adjustments Routinely. We don’t just mean adjust your routine…we also mean make adjustments to your schedule on a regular basis and as often as needed.
I am trying to build in as much structure as I can for myself and for our kids on “extended Spring Break” soon-to-be distance learning from college.
One routine we’ve created is a daily block to cook. I am preparing weekly dinners with more care than I invested when I was working full time. Our kids are making their breakfasts from scratch and preparing meals and baking treats with Joy — a definite benefit to living on the same street!
We are also scheduling time as a family to watch documentaries we have had on our family list for a while. Maybe YOUR routine will focus on organizing projects you’ve wanted to tackle. • Or podcasts you’ve been meaning to tune in to. • Or visit museums on-line for virtual cultural tours. • Or finally turn to your next few “To Read” titles.