Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Down for the Count

The Flu: 6; Heidi's House: 1. Today is one of those days that I desperately wish that Walgreen’s sold a H1N1 stick test…pink means swine flu! It would ease the strain that is already on our home, most of us having been down for the count for almost a week now. Do we go to the doctor? Do we ride it out?
Either way, I’ve been unable to work in my home according to my everyday schedule…and that’s okay. Running an orderly home means having a contingency plan in place for sick days, injury days, bad weather days...perhaps an occasional mental health day?

We call this plan FEMA: Family Emergency Management Assessment. Carl-Henric Svanberg, CEO of the telecommunications company Ericsson, once said, “When you have a crisis, the crisis itself becomes one of your biggest assets if that crisis is bad enough. Everyone gets very modest and humble and listens. If you need to do rough things, you do rough things.” Our Family Emergency Management Assessment is the way we “do rough things” in the midst of our temporary trouble.

It’s really quite simple.

First, give thanks. Daily stressors and mini-crises are often the way our Heavenly Father sanctifies us! It is often much too easy to be grateful when everything’s going just so. I believe the Lord gives us difficult times so we will lean on Him and become like Him.

Pick a color. A Green Day means everything is fine and right on schedule. But if one or more of your children are sick, or the van is broken down, or other stressors are present, it may be a Yellow Day. What do you do? I suggest that in addition to the Daily Maintenance Blocks being completed, find the “heart” of each Daily Focus and do that, too. On Laundry Day, do laundry! You may not get to the ironing, the mending, the wiping down of laundry room shelves. No big deal. But get that laundry done (especially if the family sickness is of the gastro-intestinal variety. Eww.) Is it Kitchen Day? You don’t need to deep clean the kitchen, but your family must still eat. Do whatever it takes to get them fed, including planning (and even possibly pre-preparing) meals for the next few days.

To prepare for a Yellow Day, write down 10 essential tasks for that day, in addition to those in that day’s Daily Maintenance Blocks. Then add 10 more “unessentials” that you would love to see completed if time allows. Keep it simple. Fixing a meal for your family is one task. A schedule is a wonderful servant, but if it is guilt-inducing, then you, quite possibly, have become a servant of the schedule.

What about REALLY bad days? We call those Red Days. Those are days when Mom is generally unable to even care well for herself, much less her household. To be prepared for a Red Day, create a list of 10 things - only 10! you need to do each day for your family to function on “autopilot.” Now, create 10 more items beyond the first. This second group of 10 is for those little breaks that may come and allow you to complete more than you anticipated. It may be that you can’t do a single one of them yourself. That’s okay! With the list handy, you can easily delegate those 10 to 20 tasks to your loving husband, children, or outside help from a friend or neighbor.

If you are a family with long-term health issues, and frequently find yourself in “Red Day” status, you might find it very beneficial to have a separate schedule for such days, and maybe even a separate menu (meals that dad or a tween or teenager can prepare easily, for example.)

Remember, each day of the week will have its own Yellow Day and Red Day tasks. Writing down these tasks beforehand will prepare you for unexpected chaos on ANY day of the week.
It will be more work to set up in the beginning, but your family will be blessed by the consistent care and routine, even in times of hardship.

Keeping the FEMA method in mind also gives me a bit of perspective…hey, we moved from Red to Yellow today. Green can’t be far behind!

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Heidi Schaap

Heidi is a child of God, a homemaker, wife to a studly backyard lumberjack, and homeschooling Momma to nine fun, highly energetic outdoorling children. Her family homesteads a small patch of woods in Ohio and when Heidi’s not in the kitchen baking bread or cookies, she’s growing veggies, playing tag with dairy goats, and shooing chickens off the front porch. Heidi loves books, natural living, and coffee…Actually, let’s put the coffee first. She is the author of Bootcamp for Lousy Housekeepers, a book she hopes will bless you immensely.