Errands calendar

With a lack of local shopping options, trips to the nearest town have to be strategically planned in advance. 

I’ve never been much of a planner. My last-minute, spontaneous spirit would never allow it. Even since my early years, I’ve always thrived on the adrenaline of flying by the seat of my pants.

Schoolwork, household chores, long-term projects — if it required any level of advance planning, you could count on me to leave it until the very last second to execute.

Even as I get older, the trend has followed me with great consistency. Landmark tasks most wives are ridiculously on top of planning — like weddings, vacations and sending Christmas cards — have all required some form of forced momentum from my husband who saw failure coming and resolved to do something about it.

I’d like to thank my big-city background for enabling the much-loved mentality. For the last 36 years, I’ve enjoyed the luxury of having every major store and product imaginable readily available to me. Whether I was hunting for platform shoes, spaghetti squash or a piece of teal foam-core, I had easy access and extended hours so I could buy it wherever and whenever the compulsion arose. Even on the rare occasion when a store didn’t have what I desired, the miracle of free two-day shipping would come to the rescue.

There was never the need to plan ahead because there was always a way to get what I needed in no time at all. It seems modern technology and the close conveniences of city life had made procrastination much too easy for a girl like me.

With my move to rural Iowa, I lost the convenience and proximity that I relied on so heavily. This reality has forced me to do something I have never done before — something so appalling and completely out of character that it makes me cringe just thinking about it — plan ahead.

So many times in the past eight months I’ve tried to avoid this, and every time it landed me in a state of total disaster. Household projects would suffer the fate of chewing gum being applied as adhesive because I never thought to buy glue, and diapers would run out in the middle of the night, leaving us to contemplate if a 16-month-old would be more comfortable in a hand towel or a mummy-style diaper made of Kleenex.

Things were going downhill fast and it was up to me to get the train back on the tracks.

Grocery shopping, diaper runs and everyday household supplies were the first things to gain my full attention. On a weekly basis, I began assessing my needs and following through with a well-vetted shopping list and a dedicated day on the calendar to execute.

Albertson list

Why? Because a quick trip to the store was no longer an option and two-day shipping had become a fool’s dream. If keeping my family afloat meant sacrificing an entire day to run errands, then I was willing to do it.

Stockpiling also quickly became a new, necessary strategy in our household to combat the looming threat of running out. In the last three months alone, I’ve been able to build up a sizable cache of all the things we buy most.

The only downside has been the sheer lack of space in our house to store them. As the pile continues to expand, my family has grown accustomed to finding groceries and supplies stashed in otherwise unconventional locations around the house. It keeps life interesting and doubles as a great game of treasure hunt when the kids get bored on the weekends.

I’m happy to report that I may have finally learned my lesson. Meals have begun to taste infinitely better, diaper shortages are a thing of the past, and chewing gum has resumed its natural, intended use. I keep my eye on things, check lists regularly and act swiftly. Simple as that.

I can’t help but thank my rural home for finally teaching me to recognize the value of thinking and acting ahead. It truly was a monstrous feat and my family remains eternally grateful.

Dixie Albertson moved from Cedar Rapids to a small town in southern Iowa, where her husband, Travis, joined the family farm. They have three children.