Make Do With What You've Got

I have a sign on my desk that says Make Do With What You’ve Got. Never has this seemed more relevant. Countries around the world are in lockdown due to COVID-19 and I’m hoping Australia is not far behind. Many of us are already practising extreme social distancing measures and spending a lot more time at home. Yet again I’m thinking about our relationship with stuff and how this will affect it.

Since returning to Australia I’ve questioned every purchase to determine what is essential. And in a time where our government’s message about what is essential is, at the least, unclear, this has helped make my decision on social distancing easier to navigate.

I’ve cancelled my hair appointment and the kid’s dental appointments. We haven’t been to the park in a couple of weeks. Or our local cafes. I’ve bought groceries from the supermarket and our local farms. And attended scheduled doctor’s appointments. We made one trip to Bunnings for exterior paint and fairy lights. Both will bring us joy during this time, but in hindsight, I might have made a different decision.

My usually very minimal pantry is leaning more toward a fully stocked pantry. Rice, pasta, oats, long-life milk. All the foods I usually have, but now in multiple. It’s hard to see empty shelves week after week and not grab some extra ‘just in case’.

And I won’t lie and say I haven’t felt the urge to stock up. Facing extended periods in our home with small children the first thing that comes to mind is more games, more puzzles, more Lego. So often in today’s world when facing a ‘problem’ we try to buy our way out of it.

I did put out a call for a Lego baseboard on our local Buy Nothing group last week and ended up with a large zip lock full of Lego - some never opened. Now with what we know about this virus even sharing with our neighbours comes with the possibility of infection.

So where to from here? This is going to be hard. We are all used to everything we want being a short drive or a click away and now we have to make do with what we have. Some of us for the first time in a long time.

I’ve often thought about how my kids play in nature compared to our home. Outside they fossick in the dirt and pick flowers. Spread out on the grass under the shade of a tree. They are entranced by tiny insects. How they move. How many legs they have. They breathe the air and feel the sun on their cheeks. They rarely get bored. This world is not curated by us, their parents. It is wild and ever-changing.

When did we stop seeing this world? Last night I stood in our backyard looking up at the stars with my husband. I’m not sure why we went out there. The night sky was clear and the blanket of stars sat low cocooning the earth. A strong sense of calm washed over me. Like I was part of something bigger.

Many of us are feeling overwhelmed by what is happening in our world and soon to be, if not already, our communities. While we lament all the things we can no longer do, I’m feeling that ‘making do’ can bring a joy of its own. The knowledge that we are creative and resourceful. The time to spend outside with nature and our world, time that is often relegated to last on our to-do list. The opportunity to look at our lives in a different way.

How are you ‘making do’ during this time?

Want to explore the idea of finding joy further? Check out JOYFUL: The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness by Ingrid Fetell Lee

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