Thursday, September 10, 2009

Exploring the Steps - Step 2 - Imagine You're Not There

(This is part 3 of a 4 part series. Read parts 1 and 2 here.)

Ask yourself the age old question, "If a crisis happens in the woods and you are not around to hear it, is it still a crisis?"  The answer is a solid yes.  The question is: Do you care?  No, I am not heartless, because it is a valid question.  There are chaotic things happening every day all over the world.  We read about them on the news, we see them in pictures, but do we need to care about all of them? Probably not.

Most crises happen without a second thought from us, however there are some which may strike a little closer to home.  As an example: You take a well deserved weekend away with some friends.  While you are gone your spouse is watching the kids.  They decide to go mountain biking, and WHAM one of your kids slides down a hill and breaks an arm.  What now? Does your spouse know who the pediatrician is and how to get in contact with them? Does he/she have the current insurance card and know all of your children's current medications and allergies? Does he/she know which hospital to go to and how to contact the school to report the absence?

Emergencies, by definition, are not convenient.  If they were, they wouldn't be emergencies.  So the question is: Do you rush home, or do you know your spouse has what is needed to deal with it?

Identify your Role. Figure out what information and skills you bring to your family dynamic and duplicate it.  This means you write down all the information needed in an emergency which you have floating around in your head.  Make copies of important documents and store them with your emergency binder. (Prepared Binder - Home Edition does a great job of helping you identify and store those documents.) Make sure everyone knows where the emergency binder is.

Identify a Backup You.  While you are special, loved and needed, in a crisis, you may need to be replaced. Don't take it personally, the reality is crisis management is usually a group sport.  Find someone close to your family who is aware of your normal routine and who can help in case of emergency. It may be a close relative or a friend, but this person needs to be able to step in while you are away.  I think about two people in my life who fit this role. They know enough about my kids and my routine that they could help my husband deal with an emergency until I return.

Plan on a Long Absence. Now I realize you are not heartless and would never abandon your family, but you need to be prepared to be gone for a while.  What if the emergency was you?  If you were in a car accident and hospitalized for an extended period of time you would need a plan.  You would need the information you know in a format others could use.  You would also need a plan to help you family function without yout input and assistance.  Use your planning time to give them the details they need to survive, even flourish until your return.

Now there is the possibility we haven't talked about, the elephant in the room, death.  What if you died, and that is why you were not there? Well, that is a BIG topic, one we will address another day.  Until then, assume you will be coming home soon and that the emergency is a passing issue.

Today's question is: Can your family function in a crisis without you? What do you need to do to make sure they can?

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