- You hear a crash and a scream. Your daughter's hand is badly cut, and she needs to go to the emergency room. Where are your first aid supplies? Do you have any clean towels or washcloths? Where are your purse and keys?
- A friend has had an emergency and needs a place to stay with her children—tonight. Do you have enough clean blankets and sheets? How many months' build-up has been stacked on the guest room bed?
- Your husband calls. He's been in a bike accident and needs you to come pick him up and take him to the emergency room. Where are your purse and keys? Where are your two-year-old's shoes? What are you going to do with your two-year-old? Do you have a list of people you can call to help out?
- You've all overslept, and you need to get out the door in record time. Does everyone have clean clothes? What will you have for breakfast? Where are everyone's backpacks, coats, homework, etc.?
- You realize that you forgot a key ingredient for tonight's dinner. Do you have to run to the store during rush hour? Do you just order pizza? Or do you have a back-up meal you can make from pantry supplies?
- Your kids start throwing up during the night. Do you have clean bedding? Is your washing machine empty and ready to go, or will you have to take care of yesterday's wet laundry first? Is your child's room so messy that you will now have to clean its entire contents as well as the bedding and carpet? Do you have basic medications and remedies on hand, or will you have to make a midnight pharmacy run?
All of these scenarios have happened to me. I handled some of them better than others, and here is what I have noticed: when I am mostly caught up on basic housework, crises are easier to handle, whether they are big or small.
Dealing with vomit is miserable enough without having to shift laundry out of the washer and dryer before you can use them. If there's an emergency and you need to be somewhere in a hurry, the last thing you want to waste time on is finding everyone's shoes. A bad morning is made ten times worse by a filthy kitchen and last night's dinner dishes still on the table.
Here are the top five things that I have found to be the most helpful in everyday emergencies:
- Having a landing spot for essential items like keys, purses, backpacks, and shoes—and using it consistently.
- Being caught up on laundry and dishes.
- Having food in the pantry, and plans in place for quick meals using pantry items.
- Having the house mostly picked up most of the time, especially living areas and bedrooms.
- Having a list of friends and neighbors that you can call on in an emergency.
What everyday emergencies have you had to deal with lately? What helped you through them, or what do you wish had been different when they happened?