We know what we ‘should’ do, but we often just don’t get to it. Who wants to think about how she or he can respond to horrific tragedies, like terrorism, earthquakes, and floods? That’s the kind of thing for action movie heros, not ah pair host parents, right?
We’ve brought this issue up before and it bears repeating: We each need disaster plans for our families, and we need to include our au pairs in these plans. We need to take care of them as if they were our babies, in any kind of tragic situation.
I just replublished an old post: Have a 9-11 Plan for your family and your au pair, in response to the conversation unfolding on our post about the Japanese Au Pair and her concerns about returning home to Japan after the earthquake. CalifMom has offered some additional, wonderful advice, which I add below:
The tragedies unfolding in Japan lead us into the uncomfortable space of what it means to be “prepared” and how to think about getting ready for the worst imaginable things that can happen to our beloved families.
As parents–and I know CV agrees with me, here!–I think we have an obligation to have a clue about what to do when bad stuff happens. Even the really bad stuff. Our kids and au pairs expect us to be in charge. Imagine their eyes looking up to you with “What do we do now, Mommy?” You need to have good answers so you can all spring into action.
Preparing for the worst and hoping for the best is not a bad or depressing way to live. Instead of making you feel silly for being so paranoid, getting ready is actually very empowering (I’m tired of that word, so I use it quite intentionally here.)
As “Sandwichers” we have to think about not only ourselves, kids and pets but often our parents, and I totally get that it can feel completely overwhelming.
Getting ready, even if it’s just refreshing your stuff and updating your plan, will ultimately reduce your stress, even though thinking about all the vague, potentially horrible things that can go wrong can be really uncomfortable, give you nightmares, and even paralyze you from doing anything at all. But here’s the gold: once you achieve the level of “ready” you are comfortable with, you can stop thinking about it.
We laugh about survivalists who are ready for the apocalypse, but the level of preparedness we’re talking about here does not qualify as paranoid. It’s just smart. To NOT do these simple things is stupid. If you could prevent some big problems later, even though it’s inconvenient to make time to do them now, you would do it, right? If you’re a Covey fan, it’s one of those “Important But Not Urgent” tasks. So label it an A item and prioritize it.
Not to be shameless about it, but ARC has some good tools to help you think through what your family needs.
- Jamie Lee Curtis is also passionate about this, so here’s a little video encouragement to Do More Than Cross Your Fingers: http://www.redcross.org/domore
- If you just need checklists, these are good:
To combat feelings of overwhelm at all the tasks that going into “being prepared” I try to think of what I want to achieve as getting ready for a little “urban camping”. That makes it feel less daunting and easier to put my head into the mindset of thinking through what I will want to be able to put my hands on, fast.
First Aid/CPR is good, but you can’t pack it into a box so you need to make a bigger effort on that one. Sometimes you can get your employer to pay for this. (A man I know who had a full-on heart attack at his desk was recently saved by a coworker using an AED. He’s sure glad they took action because they had had training!)
You already have most of the stuff you need, you just need to pull it together.
Kind of like hosting, having a ‘disaster guidebook’ with your non-stuff-needs outlined isn’t a bad idea at all. Know where your kids would be evacuated to by their schools.
Appoint one relative outside your metro area as your communication hub so each of you can ALL relay messages through them (such is the nature of phone networks that a call outside your area is still going to be easier than calls within a damaged area). Get flashlights at this week’s trip to Costco; give emergency radios as a graduation gift in a month for those going to college in the fall. (I tease my husband about the 500 flashlights we have, and every time I see him online shopping for the latest versions, I tweak him. But you know what, we had the right mix of lights and plenty of them during our last power outage! And the mini light on my keychain kept me from falling when I was walking outside on a slippery, unfamiliar walkway and there was no moon. The thing is smaller than my car key.
Being ready helps you with smaller “disasters” too, like power outages and slippery walkways.
Sorry to be a downer! I just feel strongly that knowing you have done what you can to take care of yourself and your family puts you in an emotionally healthier place than just feeling guilty and worried because you haven’t done anything. Maybe that insight will be enough to move someone from a state of worried paralysis to doing a little bit, and then it will snowball. No, I’m not going to use an avalanche metaphor to describe the path from not prepared to ready for the apocalypse, but it’s tempting!)
My thoughts, too, are with all who are suffering.