The Backup

My son just got contacts. He is so excited. He has been diligent about washing his hands, putting the contacts in properly, and cleaning the lenses thoroughly. However, last night I was reminded once again that he doesn’t fully understand the consequences of his actions (I’m sure my mother would say the same thing about me when I was 12 <sigh>) when my husband hollered from the bathroom, Why are there contacts just sitting on the counter? (To be fair, the contacts were in their case, with no solution, contact case lids off.) Even though I have 2 children who wear contacts, I was 99% sure I knew who was the culprit.

Why did you leave your contacts out like that? His reply: I didn’t have any contact solution. Oh, okay, no problem. Completely reasonable (in his mind) to let his contacts dry out, and never once think, “I wonder if anyone else has any contact solution?” BECAUSE OF COURSE I HAD MORE CONTACT SOLUTION! I WORK HARD TO BE ORGANIZED SO WE DON’T HAVE TO SPEND MONEY UNNECESSARILY REPLACING DRIED OUT CONTACTS!!!!! (You’ll be proud to know that I only shouted this in my mind.) In my calmest, most reasonable voice, I instructed my son where to look for some more contact solution (on the shelf above the washer and dryer, 2nd basket from the left). I didn’t even have to get off the couch to fix his problem and save his contacts from a premature death thanks to THE BACKUP

Because, second only to THE KEY TO ORGANIZATION, is THE BACKUP. The Backup (I really wanted to put it in caps again because it is so important) is the idea of having a second item (or Backup for the really obtuse) for whatever item is currently being used. Let me tell you how The Backup has rescued us in just the last 2 days:

  1. I was able to light the candle on my counter today and get rid of the smell of bacon in my house (without the backup box of matches, our house would have smelled like breakfast food all day instead of clean linen #the horror!)
  2. I was able to give my husband a minty fresh kiss before he went to work (mouthwash is as important to our marriage as regular date nights).
  3. My son’s contacts (we’ve already discussed these).

I think you can see just how many times The Backup has saved our family from potential doom. Now let’s discuss what kind of things for which we should have a backup (awkward sounding but grammatically correct sentence). Everything. Have a backup for every consumable thing in your house. That’s the goal. When I make my grocery list, I don’t look at what I need to buy (because if I’m out of it I can’t see it). I look at what I don’t have a backup for. Is my last jar of jelly in the fridge? Buy another one to put in the pantry. Have we opened the last 6 pound container of Peter Pan? I better put that on the list (and consider buying 2!) because that baby is going to be gone quick! Just used the last match to light that candle and had to pull the last box out? Grab your phone, and add it to the grocery list right now while you’re thinking about it. By the way, I also strive to have every consumable item in my house on my pantry list on my phone. That way, every week I just use my pantry list to make sure I have backup items of everything.

This might sound time consuming and expensive. Depends. It took me about 45 minutes to add the bulk of the items in my house to the pantry list the first time, and then I’ve added about a dozen things to the list since then. But it really depends on how many products you buy. The average number of items in a grocery store is 42,000+. I have 151 items on my list (I do tend to be more minimalistic, though). But the real payoff is in time saved. It takes me literally 10 seconds to add something to my list, and less than 10 minutes to check my pantry list and transfer the items I need to my grocery list. That adds up to less than 15 minutes a week, which is WAY less than 1 extra trip to the store to buy toilet paper (and we live less than 2 miles away from a Dollar General). So yes, a small time contribution up front has the potential to give back DAYS to your life (I have a flair for the dramatic).

And I like to think that the expense of staying stocked up is offset by the gas savings of extra trips to the store (and can we really put a price on the potential global warming savings? I think not). It’s not even really more expensive – I was going to buy those items anyway; I just didn’t have to make a special trip or do without.

Potential Budget Buster Warning: If you try a new product, don’t stock up by buying 2 (or 6 as someone I know did). You might not like it, and then you’re stuck with the guilt of feeling wasteful, or using up something you hate, OR giving it away to someone else (that’s how I ended up receiving 6 extra bottles of my favorite hairspray from someone who tried it and hated it! #yeahfreestuff!)

There you have it, all the nitty gritty details of the backup. Now I must post this so I can go buy some more contact solution, matches, and mouthwash.

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