Hoarding, and Other Post-Pandemic Oddities
Growing up, I always heard about how my grandparents’ generation was very frugal because they grew up in the depression and went from having a lot to having very little. In many ways, that feels like a trait that defined their generation. As we’ve emerged from the pandemic I can’t help but think that our generation is experiencing something similar (changes in habits, weird behaviors) stemming from the time spent in lockdown. It’s affected everyone differently but I think some things are universal.
There are more serious things (my social anxiety is still sky high) that we don’t need to get into today. But there were also weird and slightly silly things that eventually went away. For example, I couldn’t do at home workouts for a while. I am back to working out at home now that I don’t have a gym in my building. But I am careful to mix it up between indoor and outdoor workouts so that I don’t get that stuck inside feeling. Certain foods (the Allison Roman shallot pasta that I made several times for example, her chickpea stew too) were weirdly triggering for a while. I made a lot of curry and pasta during lockdown. And I still don’t eat much of either.
I have become… a bit of a hoarder?
I have always lived in smaller spaces and had had strict rules. Only one of this type of thing, only one of another. You buy something, you get rid of something else. I’m not a big cook so my pantry always had just the bare minimum. A box of pasta, a jar of sauce, good olive oil and vinegar for salad dressing, a few cans of chicken soup if I got sick… snacks, of course.
When the pandemic hit and in those early days the grocery stores were out of food and there was no toilet paper, all of those rules went out the window. I remember when we could finally get groceries, lining the bottom of my (clothing!) closet with boxes of pasta, cans of soup, sauces,, etc. I remember buying enough ingredients to make the aforementioned Alison Roman shallot pasta for weeks, if it came to it. Don’t get me started on toilet paper. I found this company that delivers boxes of bamboo toilet paper and would have two cases at all times. For one person, living alone. My old apartment in Brooklyn was large for a one bedroom. But it didn’t have a ton (read: any) storage space. The toilet paper was also piled up in my closet (this time, under my formal dresses which of course were not being used).
It is a little bit ridiculous but those days were so uncertain.
Knowing that I had enough pasta and toilet paper was one thing I could control.
When I moved to Charleston, my last apartment had a ton of storage space. Loads of kitchen cabinets and two really big closets. Even post-pandemic, I found myself filling them to the brim with food and other provisions, “just in case.” It wasn’t until I moved into the house last month that I really took stock of my new hoarding tendencies. Did I really need all of that lipton onion dip mix? All that pasta? 4 jars of sauce? (Don’t get me started on the wine and cases of seltzer!!!)
I must be prepared at all times.
I won’t be dramatic enough to say that I constantly think about another lockdown (I don’t), but there is this weird part of me that always wants to be prepared. This goes hand in hand with hoarding but I find myself constantly thinking, “Well, if we get locked down again, at least I will have a treadmill.” “At least I will have outdoor space.” “At least I will be comfortable here.” I think about this probably too much. But the reality is that I spent all that time cooped up in a Brooklyn apartment by myself and the thought of doing that again is pretty much unbearable.
How about you? Any new habits/personality changes/etc. to report?
I own a massage therapy practice and my work was shut down for months and then severely limited for about a year and a half. My business is thriving again, but I am now in a habit of overextending myself and saying yes to every request. I did that a lot during 2021, but there weren’t a ton of requests being made. I keep thinking, “I need to be as busy as possible now in case things every shut down again!” A huge goal of 2023 is breaking myself of this pandemic habit. When I do comment that I am feeling overwhelmed at work, my kids like to remind me, “Remember when you couldn’t work and sort of wandered around the house just making friendship bracelets non-stop?”
I also still have a hard time with at-home workouts. And the thought of making bread.
Oh my gosh YES to all of this!!! I have been so nervous as well, work-wise… I have a hard time saying no and constantly worry about things shutting down again (on top of a recession!). Also yes to making bread!!! I was thinking about that the other night and literally shuttered. (I did giggle about the making friendship bracelets!)
I so relate to this post. As a singleton, I panicked the other day when my if I get sick stash was running low. In reality, if I get sick, I have enough friends and family who would drop off things, but it helps my anxiety to have items in my apartment. Brene Brown mentioned on one of her podcasts how we’re all forever changed from the pandemic and it will continue to change us. All about balance! Thanks for sharing as I often think I’m the only person pondering these things!
SAME on working out indoors. I simply could never do it again, still, ever, not once.
It’s really not my fav to work from home anymore. Even though I was fortunate to be able to and also to have the resources to make my home office a cozy little nook I get a little stir crazy and anxious if I work at home more than 2 days in a row.
I totally agree with this. I was so lucky to have a company that was thoughtful about our safety and has us work from home for over a year and a half, but I can’t do it anymore for more than 1-2 days in a row. I know for so many people, they happily switched to fully remote across the pandemic (which is great for them!) but I actually ended up leaving my role because I couldn’t be fully remote anymore.
I’ve now become the person who freezes everything. Between prices going up and the scarcity of food (I can’t believe I’m even typing that, but it is true!) I find myself freezing more things I normally wouldn’t. I also got a Food Saver last Christmas and it’s game changer too. So freezing stuff is actually GREAT because they freeze and keep so well.
omg yes– I have frozen so many leftovers. especially living by myself, after 2-3 meals’ worth, I’m usually tired of a dish & I’m like “oh, better freeze it for when I’ll need it later”… to be fair, I was very glad to have had some of these frozen leftovers (a random chicken curry? leftover pizza from my favorite spot? some cookies that got delivered? hoorah)
On the food-saving front, I got Souper Cubes & have frozen portions of soups & chilis (again, I get tired of recipes & am bad about 1/2ing for solo). They work great, so also highly recommend those!!
I’m with you on hoarding toilet paper and some other household essentials. One good habit that came out of lockdown for me at least was taking Peloton classes with my sister and then video chatting while stretching afterwards. She only lives 50 minutes away but I’m happy to see her nearly every day even if it is only virtually. Plus it keeps us in a great workout routine. I’m glad we kept that up post lockdown.
Same with the at home workouts! I was living in a small and fully carpeted apartment in 2020 that made trying to do my cardio dance classes virtually a NIGHTMARE. Even if I have a whole house someday, I don’t think at home workouts will ever by my jam again.
I am constantly worried about getting sick now and plans getting cancelled for sickness. Don’t think that ever worried me once pre-2020. Those days must’ve been so nice! It didn’t help that my “nightmare” came true and I had to cancel a birthday trip in 2022 for finally getting Covid!
I also have some guilt whenever I cancel social plans now for some me-time at home. I think back to 2020 and how much I missed normal social things like dinners out and parties! Haha.
Great blog post!
I’m with you. I’m always hesitant to plan anything for the fear of getting sick and ending up disappointed. Guess I’ll stick to refundable events or trips for the foreseeable future. Stay well.
One thing I started doing during lockdown and am still doing now is always having a contingency plan for if I get sick. I’ll avoid social plans before trips and events just in case, book refundable things, and space out trips and events so that if I get sick on one I don’t have to miss the other. I never used to think about illness so much, which makes me very grateful for my overall health. I guess that’s another thing – not taking my health for granted!
So interesting, I am still wary of being in large crowds, going to restaurants, movies etc, but I had to go to work and interact with people during COVID (healthcare) so I didn’t experience isolation as badly as some-I was just terrified of bringing home something to my too young to vaccinated kids- knowing that my patients and staff may not be as fastidious as I was about COVID precautions. In more traditional jobs, the ability to work from home has grown, which has allowed me to spend more time with my husband. I do keep 1 month TP in reserve through 🙂
This is something I’ve thought a lot about actually! I still have habits that were passed down from my grandmother’s experience living through the great depression, through my mother – for example, I can’t stand throwing away food.
The pandemic habit that I plan on never letting go is wearing a mask on planes. I used to always, always get sick after flying! I also hope, in general, we see a shift in people staying home and taking time off when we’re sick, if we’re able. No more sitting next to someone coughing and sniffling up a storm in the office!
This is so interesting! I’ve always been a bit of a preparer/planner, so not much has changed in that regard, but I have to say I actually feel stronger post-lockdown. We went through it and lived to tell the tale. What a blessing. I was always an avid traveller but very anxious flyer, but that anxiety has lessened, because I feel so lucky to be able to get back up into the sky! To see people at parties, to eat at favorite restaurants, just to be able to do these things again, I feel like I will never again take these things for granted. I’m trying not to “panic travel,” because that just flattens the joy of it, but I do want to live more. All of that said, I still enjoy being at home as well. I think I spent so much time making our space cozy and livable, that home is still a very enticing place to me!
I think about this ALL THE TIME! I never used to have a Costco membership or a second “pantry” of back stock in the basement. Now it’s like I can’t stop myself. I like to think we eat everything (or at least most things) that I buy, but the storage space it takes up is a little ridiculous. I used to live in a 2 BR apartment in LA with 2 kids and make due with the smallest pantry (which was really just one cabinet). Same with hoarding toilet paper, tissues and paper towels. I always *need* to have back stock of these items.
I was looking through the comments and someone mentioned taking extra precautions now before trips, etc. I didn’t even think about it, but I do this as well. I don’t want to ruin the trip by getting sick in advance!
This! It was when we started a basement shelf of Costco extras. Now we have to make sure none of them are expiring so they get used!
Absolutely yes! I was talking to a friend about this and used the same comparison of the depression-era habits. Kids in the future are going to think we’re so weird…
I keep a lot of food in the house now, and lots more ‘easy’ food than I used to (we didn’t have takeout open here in NZ during lockdown, I missed it!), always have paracetamol to hand, and have become a big fan of little ‘kits’ to cover any eventuality, which I keep around the house, in my handbag, my car, my weekender bag…
I moved to the country (classic pandemic style!) and now feel ready and eager to return to the city, which for me I think is the clearest indication yet that I’m starting to let go my Covid-related anxiety (I hope I hope!).
My job never shut down during the pandemic (academic librarian – worked from my closed library every day). Daycare shut down, though. Every week was a new adventure as to who (family, babysitter, husband, etc.) would be able to take my children, one of whom was still breastfeeding. Luckily, daycare eventually opened back up and we have had steady childcare since, but I still catch myself getting panicked about where my children are going to go if daycare were to shut down again. This usually comes up around holidays when I have to work, but the kids are out of school. I always have a running list about three people deep of who I can call if something were to happen. It is exhausting! AND, I know it is going to ramp up again as my husband is getting ready to deploy.
Thanks, pandemic! I will probably still be worrying about this even when they are in college.
PS. My mom, who doesn’t live with me, keeps her hoard of toilet paper at my house… just in case. : )
I definitely don’t like to WFH anymore. I was lucky to be able to during lockdown, but I need more interaction. (Except I quit my FT job to freelance so that’s another story.. a lot of coffee shops). The thing that triggers me is media, actually — songs that were popular on TikTok at the time because I spent hours scrolling or shows that I watched over and over as some sort of salve, I can’t take them for a minute. It’s like I consumed so much of them I got sick and it takes me right back.
interestingly enough, I’d say I’m the opposite and currently purging a lot – esp when it comes to clothes and make up. through bare minimum lockdown days, it provided more clarity on what I actually use/wear.
As a high-risk person for whom the pandemic is not over, there’s a lot of bitterness I am trying not to indulge too much, but that I am definitely carrying with me. Even seeing your post title with the term “Post-Pandemic” just makes me deeply sad about the reality that some people are truly living in a post-pandemic world, and some of us are left behind. (Not personal to you, Grace! Very much the zeitgeist at the moment and I don’t blame you for being a part of it.)
So funny— I cannot even THINK about Allison Roman’s chickpea stew because it reminds me so much of the early days of the pandemic.
SAME!!!! I am glad I’m not the only one!
My weird pandemic-learned habit is that I started reading in my car. I didn’t want to spend one extra second at my office during masking & social distancing, so if I arrived a few minutes early to work or took a lunch break, I would just pull over, set my timer on my phone and read. Even though we are back to normal I find this practice so relaxing and enjoyable that I still make extra time for it in my morning. I like propping my book on the steering wheel and being in a quiet little box where nobody can interrupt me for 20 minutes or so. Ahhhhh.
My weird habit is what I call a “covid shower”. I cannot put my pajamas on at night and crawl into bed without taking a shower and feeling clean. It’s a habit that started in march 2020 when I just felt so gross and almost itchy all the time… and it’s stuck around
I think during lockdown all my friends were hoarding and trying to find simple rolls of toilet paper and where to get shots . I had 3 floods here in a row in my house and I was devastated but lucky enough to be able to rent a friend’s condo nearby for 3 months and have food delivered to us by her sister who shopped for a few people. I did order way too much if same pasta sauces, soup snacks and there wasn’t much storage space there at all. I met my one friend nearby for walks . We tried to stay apart without masks or she could not hear me well . After things slowed down and I did not know there was still going to be a real risk for a very long time, I bought a lot of things from seeing yours or Jess’s recommendations that I really don’t think I’ll ever wear all of it. My life has changed . No one masks here and I wonder why because we have many cases in FL . My husband started getting sick about two years ago with a small cognitive dysfunction and now it’s pretty much Altzheimers. So my clothes and the things I’d like to wear are on the back burner . My closet is a mess overcrowded . I do feel like a bit of a hoarder and need to find hobbies and me time a bit a day . I worry about another lockdown sure . I got a little dressed up for me to go to the Dr. Yesterday . It felt good . I can relate very well . I hope they one day find a cure for this awful disease . Stay well Grace . Your posts make me happy .
I think during lockdown all my friends were hoarding and trying to find simple rolls of toilet paper and where to get shots . I had 3 floods here in a row in my house and I was devastated but lucky enough to be able to rent a friend’s condo nearby for 3 months and have food delivered to us by her sister who shopped for a few people. I did order way too much if same pasta sauces, soup snacks and there wasn’t much storage space there at all. I met my one friend nearby for walks . We tried to stay apart without masks or she could not hear me well . After things slowed down and I did not know there was still going to be a real risk for a very long time, I bought a lot of things from seeing yours or Jess’s recommendations that I really don’t think I’ll ever wear all of it. My life has changed . No one masks here and I wonder why because we have many cases in FL . My husband started getting sick about two years ago with a small cognitive dysfunction and now it’s pretty much Altzheimers. So my clothes and the things I’d like to wear are on the back burner . My closet is a mess overcrowded . I do feel like a bit of a hoarder and need to find hobbies and me time a bit a day . I worry about another lockdown sure . I got a little dressed up for me to go to the Dr. Yesterday . It felt good . I can relate very well . I hope they one day find a cure for this awful disease . I love to read your posts .
Loved this blog post! I often think about how much I’ve changed due to the pandemic and wonder if it’s just me. Hoarding, online shopping, social anxiety, etc. Who is this new person I’ve become and is it for the better? Worse? Long term? I don’t know!