Things I don’t know how to do without DH or the kids around

Because of flight prices, the rest of the family and I didn’t completely overlap on their family vacation/my summer conference.  So I ended up spending several days at home by myself while they were still in the midwest enjoying cooler summer weather.  It turns out there are some things that I have never had to do for myself since getting settled and I don’t actually know how.

  • Making popcorn.  I grew up with an air popper.  DH prefers to make it on the stovetop.  My friend, hearing my plight, sent me instructions for how to make it in the microwave with a paper bag, but I haven’t tried it yet.
  • Making coffee.  I grew up with instant or one of those regular drip coffee pots that uses already ground coffee.  We only have whole beans at home and my choice of french press/siphon/mochapot/whoknows.  I don’t even know where to start on DH’s burr grinder.
  • Watching Netflix.  So… I haven’t had to set this up myself since before DC2 was born and that was at least a couple game systems ago (we use game systems to watch things on a projector).  Normally with DH home I would be able to just borrow his phone or get one of the kids to set it up for me on the projector.  Now we have two game systems and I’m not sure which one is connected to Netflix or how to get there.
  • Taking out the trash/recycling.  Um… I haven’t had to do this since we lived in an apartment.  No clue what the days are and I only have sort of a foggy idea of where we keep the bins (there’s a mysterious door on the other side of the garage that I suspect leads to the dog run).  I suspect the blue one is recycling and the green (? brown?) one trash, but :shrug emoji:
  • Picking up groceries from curbside.  For this one I know how to do it but I can’t actually do it.  I can order them but I can’t pick them up because the account is connected to DH’s phone.  I would have to make a new account connected to my phone.  This is not a problem with Target curbside where I can tell it which phone number to use and I think we can both login to the same app at the same time.

Are there things you ought to know how to do but don’t?

27 Responses to “Things I don’t know how to do without DH or the kids around”

  1. First Gen American Says:

    Although I used to do these things, I no longer fix stuff when they break. My DH Is much better at assessing and fixing things. I also have a heavy hand, so sometimes, I break other parts when I’m trying to take something apart to fix it.

    The other day, I did assess a fridge leak and send DH a YouTube video and the $7 part to fix it but that is because he wants a new fridge and I don’t. I’m not convinced a new one will be any better than the junk we have. I wish they still made the Amanda I liked.

    I’ve had conversations about his very topic with other independent women and it can be a little unsettling forgetting how to do things. But I think it’s a sign of Having such a good partner that you never have to worry about certain things.

  2. Steph Says:

    I need to re-learn how to change a tire. Being at the mercy of random passers by when I got a flat last winter was scary and a little embarrassing. For now I have a can of that fix-a-flat spray, which will at least help with small leaks. I should probably also re-learn to check oil, but I have two excellent repair shops so I’m content leaving some things to them.

    This is slightly different than what you’re asking, but without another person around I have trouble picking something to watch. There’s lots of things I “should” or even want to watch, but I just can’t get myself to do it without another person there with me. I have to have the urge to watch a specific thing and actually have the time and energy for it.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Our cars don’t even have spare tires anymore! Just the kit and roadside assistance instead. We also let the mechanic check the oil during regular checkups. Our current cars require special equipment to actually change the oil.

    • Debbie M Says:

      You might try making a date with yourself. Obviously, you can be much more flexible than when you make a date with another person, so you can always worm your way out of it, but you can also try to remember that you, yourself were looking forward to this and don’t deserve to be let down. Or make Wednesday night (or whenever) into movie night (or whatever).

      Or maybe think of other things you can do at the same time so that you only barely need extra energy and time–like eat dinner, fold laundry, do squats.

  3. middle_class Says:

    For the longest time I didn’t even know how to make drop coffee and was too embarrassed to ask! I grew up with instant coffee.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I believe either #2 or my previous high school roommate taught me how to use a regular coffeemaker since my mom makes instant. We had one at some point but it didn’t make the move from grad school and I guess we never got a new one.

    • Debbie M Says:

      One of my old roommates didn’t even know you *could* make popcorn in a pan on the stove. This was ancient times, so she only knew about Jiffy Pop (the ancient version of microwave popcorn–you got a pre-filled tiny skillet with an attached aluminum foil lid that puffed up as the popcorn popped to make space).

  4. Debbie M Says:

    On popping corn in a pan – I pour about a tablespoon of oil (enough where you can almost coat the bottom) in a 2-quart pan. (It does not have to be non-stick or have a heavy bottom; it just has to have a lid.) Then add one kernel of popcorn and put the lid on. Wait around until you hear it pop. If you’re not sure if it has popped yet, try to protect your eyes while checking. Then pour in 1/4 cup of popcorn and replace the lid. Shake the pan forward and back or side to side (not up and down) to make sure the raw kernels fall back to the bottom and to keep the oil spread around. After five seconds with no popping, turn off the heat. Leave the pan there a few more seconds in case you get another couple of pops, then pour into a big bowl.

    Then you may like to season it. With this method, there is oil, so salt will stick. I like to use a little of the powder from a box of macaroni and cheese instead. Similarly, people use nutritional yeast, but I haven’t tried it yet.

    On trash/recycling – You can probably check online when your trash and recycling days are. If you can check DH’s calendar, maybe it’s there. Maybe a schedule is even on your fridge, but you haven’t had to pay attention to that before. Also, another sign is when your neighbors are putting out their trash (but they are not always correct).

    OMG there are SO MANY things I can’t do myself anymore. My boyfriend keeps replacing things. Worst is the music system which is a computer which has to be caressed weekly to keep working. Ugh, I hate dealing with computer guts. That’s also connected to our VR player and our DVD player. I can’t tell you how many times I either haven’t been able to use my exercise DVD at all or had to use it without sound.

    I can’t mow anymore because he promised he’d take care of the lawn and now it’s full of trash trees. I can’t even dig things up because he’s piled things in front of the shovel and all my other garden tools.

    Okay, I guess that’s not very much, it just feels like a lot.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I mean I would figure out how to do things if I had to, though for me it would be buying a popcorn popper or using the paper bag method. And I don’t drink coffee enough to justify anything other than instant. And I would have to actually go into the side yard to make sure our trash cans are there.

  5. bogart Says:

    Hmmm. Let me note that I’m the working spouse while DH is at home (retired) and I therefore feel there are an assortment tasks that should be his responsibility 100%. With the exception of laundry, which he has almost completely taken over, this is a question on which we lack consensus. Oh — and he does our taxes using tax software, though I could presumably navigate this if I needed to (I am grateful not to).

    I can do most things, though he is much, much better than I am at fixing many things. We’ve had an assortment of bike tire blowouts this year and fix/replace them together, but I’d be hard pressed to do it solo, though in a pinch, at home with access to YouTube I could figure it out. I basically do not watch TV (or videos, or play video games) unless it is a shared family activity, and I am only barely able to operate the TV but wouldn’t do it solo anyway. I did manage to bring up Rachel Maddow on YouTube on my tablet on Monday after everyone else had gone to bed and watch her because, well, I wanted to see what she had to say about the search.

    I will not operate a chainsaw, full stop. They frighten me. Also our chainsaw explicitly stated when we chose it, “If you’ve never used a chainsaw before, don’t start with this one,” so would not be the right choice for me anyway. But I’m good with an assortment of other options — chopsaw, skilsaw, reciprocating saw. I’ve never used a table saw but wouldn’t be opposed to learning.

    DH recently got a sous vide gadget and I love it but have only used it once myself. He also has a smoker that I don’t know how to use, but I wouldn’t really want to bother.

  6. Alice Says:

    Probably anything connected with the house water. We’re on well water, not far from fracking, and have a very complicated water purification system in the basement to make the house water safe. If something goes wrong with any part of the system (in the last 6 months: a toilet that wouldn’t stop running, a glitch in the purification loop that halted all water through the house, and another part of the purification loop that had a replace-this-part alarm that needed to be turned off). I don’t know how to shut down the house water, reset the system, or even make the alarm stop. My husband knows the system– I don’t.

    And I’ll also say: I would give A LOT to be on town water. The town water pipe goes straight past the end of our driveway and they replaced it 2 years ago. If we could’ve paid to get a tap, even some exorbitant sum, we absolutely would have done it. But the original owners opted for well instead, and the municipal process for getting a tap at this point makes it virtually impossible if the well hasn’t gone dry. (Which, thank goodness, hasn’t happened.)

  7. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life Says:

    I don’t know how to install a car seat. I continue to hope that’ll phase out of our lives before I NEED to learn.

    I don’t think I’ve ever learned to change a tire since my hands have always been so bad since before I could drive. But I should?

    I finally learned how to make PiC’s coffee in the French press! Used to know how to do it in the other coffeemaker before it broke.

    I’ve got to learn all the plumbing and electrical stuff. That seems important.

  8. CG Says:

    I have deliberately never learned how to iron anything. DH has to do it (not that we need things ironed all that often). I also don’t know how to login to any of the streaming services we subscribe to because they’re all DH’s passwords and now that he uses a password manager I don’t know any of them anymore. That is more of a problem than ironing.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      We don’t even own an iron anymore. Such a waste of time. (My father believed that ironing was women’s work, and he was really the only person who ever needed anything ironed.)

  9. Sarah S. Says:

    We have stacked front load washer and dryer and I do not even know which is which, much less how to use them.

    I also don’t know how to install a car seat. I like to think I could figure out how to install one in our newer latch system car, but getting them installed properly in our older, pre-latch car required ordering parts from Canada. I will never figure that system out.

  10. Lisa Says:

    Totally random popcorn comment here. We were REALLY not into popcorn until the pandemic shut everything down. Then I started using our ancient air popper to make popcorn for movie night to make it seem special (this was back when it was hard to get butter, so I always agonized about how much to put on! Ahhh, remember those days…) My kids discovered that they really love homemade popcorn with their movies, so we started doing it all the time (and fortunately our butter supply stabilized). But then our air popper died. I tried making popcorn on the stove for a while and it works, of course, but I noticed that the kernels don’t pop up anywhere near as large and fluffy on the stove. So I bought a new air popper and we continue to enjoy our new popcorn habit. We can hardly eat microwave popcorn anymore even though we had always thought it was OK before COVID.

    Things I can’t do: if our TV system goes on the fritz I can’t fix it. I’ll just sit there and stare at the blank screen until I get bored enough to find something else to do. Pay the bills – my DH does this and uses some online system that I am completely ignorant of. Sometimes I feel a little bit bad about this but I’m sure I could figure it out if I really had to. Actually, I think that most of the things I “can’t” do are just things that I choose not to do. I’m pretty confident that I could do just about anything (or find someone to hire to do it) if I had to. Conversely, there are other things in the comments above that I wish I didn’t know how to do (like, I wish I didn’t know how to use the washer/dryer because someone else in the house did it for me!).

  11. Ellie Says:

    As an unpartnered person who lives alone, I cannot afford to not know now to do anything. If I don’t know or learn how to do it, it can’t be done. It would be very nice to have the luxury of delegating tasks and knowledge thereof to someone else :(.

  12. accm Says:

    Single mother by choice here, so no, not really. :-) Though I have never had to (touch wood) change a car tire since learning the theory 30-odd years ago.


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