Our Current Situation: What Would The Ingalls Family Do?

The Ingalls Family. Seated from left to right: Caroline (Ma) Ingalls, Carrie Ingalls, Laura Ingalls, Charles (Pa) Ingalls, Grace Ingalls, Mary Ingalls.

I’ve been struggling for a while now (well, since we all went on lock-down last week) to figure out something meaningful to post on my IG account, but as ho-hum squares of my pets or my home don’t seem to cut it these days, I’m back at it with my blog.

Whenever I go through something particularly stressful or traumatic, I think to myself (swear to God), “What would the Ingalls’ have done?” Turns out, having read and reread all of the Little House books a gazillion times over, I have been preparing for the quarantine lifestyle associated with COVID-19 pandemic my entire life!

Let me share with you some ways we can learn from the Ingalls family in order to cope with times of trouble.

Get Busy
Never ones to rest (like, EVER), the Ingalls family always had something they were working on, even in times of isolation. Sewing, cleaning, cooking, mending, crafting, washing, gardening, tending to livestock – the list goes on and on of what they filled their days with whether times were good or bad.

As the family settled into the unihabited DeSmet area for the winter, Laura observed:
In the snug house, Laura and Carrie helped Ma with the housework, and Grace played, running about the big room with toddling short steps…They all settled down for a cosy afternoon of knitting and sewing and crocheting. Pa did the chores and walked the trap lined he had set along the edge of Big Slough…While they worked in the snug, cosy house, they told stories and sang and talked.

Now I’m not saying you should bring out your great-grandmother’s butter churn (although that would be an interesting project) to fill the time, but surely we’ve all got closets and drawers that need cleaning out, a dusty jigsaw puzzle waiting to be opened or weeds that need to be pulled from a backyard garden. I’ve been going through my closets like my pants are on fire and it FEELS REALLY GOOD to check items off my spring cleaning list.

Make Some Music
During the darkest of times, Charles Ingalls brought out his fiddle and had the family sing with him when morale was low. As the family tried to keep their spirits up during a three-day blizzard in The Long Winter, Charles rallied with family with song:
I’ll tell you what!” Pa exclaimed. “Laura and Carrie, you get out there with Grace and let’s see you quick-step march! It’ll warm up your blood.” It was hard to leave the shelter of their huddled shawls, but they did as Pa said. Then is strong voice rang out with the singing fiddle…Round and round they marched, Laura and Carrie and Grace, singing with all their might, thumping loud thumps of their shoes on the floor…They felt that banners were blowing above them and that they were marching to victory.

Let’s put our favorite playlists to good use by cuing up our favorite playlists and have an epic singing/dancing party. My family is just riveted by the showtunes I’ve been performing for them!

The Ingalls family only used their wagon and horse team if they had to transport the whole family to another location that was over a mile away. Other than that, they walked everywhere.

Charles and Caroline Ingalls used an afternoon walk to get some quality time together after a spell of being housebound On The Banks of Plum Creek:
But the next day was mild as spring. The air was soft and warm and the sun shone brightly. In the middle of the morning Pa came to the house.
“Let’s have an early dinner and take a walk to town this afternon,” he said to Ma. “This is too nice a day for you to stay indoors. Time enough for that when winter comes.” [Laura and Mary] watched Pa and Ma starting gaily away. Ma was so pretty, in her bornw-and-red Christmas shawl, with her brown knit hood tied under he chin and she stepped so quickly and looked up at Pa so merrily that Laura thought she was like a bird.

There’s data out there that shows that walking boosts circulation, improves mood and just generally improves overall health and wellness. Let us start a walking as we have never walked before, my friends!

Show Gratitude
This is probably the most important lesson we can learn from the Ingalls family. Throughout the whole Little House series, the Ingalls’ continually manage to push forward, through drought, blizzards, near starvation, debilitating illness and poverty to hope for a better future and to give thanks for what they had.

After a particularly unpleasant experience of boarding with an unhospitable family during her time as a teacher, Laura noted her great appreciativeness after returning home in These Happy Golden Years:
Waking the next morning was happier than Christmas. “Oh, I’m at home!” Laura thought. … She almost laughed with joy as she shivered into her dress and skipped downstairs to button her shoes and comb her hair in the warming kitchen where Ma was getting breakfast. She was busy all that morning, helping with Saturday’s work. Though usually she disliked the dryness of flour on her hands, today she enjoyed the kneading the bread, thinking happily that she would be at home to eat the fresh, brown-crusted loaves. Her heart sang with the song on her lips; she was not going back…ever again.

Finding things to be grateful about during the day, no matter how small or insignificant they seem, make me feel like I’ve won a small victory over this terrifying virus.

I’m not sure what the future exactly holds for all of us during these uncertain times, but I do know that if we are able to invite a few simple joys into our everyday existence right now, we’ll stay a littlemore connected and a little more sane.

Stay healthy, everyone.

3 thoughts on “Our Current Situation: What Would The Ingalls Family Do?

  1. Love this, Annie!! Yes I have thought many times to what it must have been like for settlers during winter…closer quarters, quilting, carving, reading, singing, talking, and trying to stay warm… this is tough, but it could be even harder. I’m soooo happy spring is at least here!!!


    1. My great grandfather lived in Mankato, MN at the same time the Ingalls family lived in Walnut Grove,MN. I remember the Ingalls traveling to Mankato a lot, and I love to think they may have known each other! My great grandfather, who was a boy at the time, later wrote a journal about their life they’re in great detail. They had that same pioneer spirit as the Ingalls because that was life back then. I feel that I’ve inherited some of their pioneer spirit. I collect “pioneer” style farmhouse antiques, love calico fabrics, and enjoy cooking from scratch. Thanks for sharing this post!


  2. Anne,
    This is wonderful and inspiring! Keeping busy is a welcome opportunity for the family to come together at such a turbulent time that seems scary to many of us. It brought back fond memories of growing up in rural Kentucky in a household with an extended family. Grandparents kept us busy with a variety of projects during weeks of school-free snow days – everything from cutting quilt pieces, baking cookies, feeding chickens to putting together 500-piece puzzles. Thanks for sharing the Ingalls family ideals with us!


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