Can we talk for a minute about the concept of ‘preventative measures’? I am sure, as fellow parents, as fellow health-minded individuals, you now what I am talked by about. You know all about steps, efforts and measures you must take in order to prevent things from happening to your little people (and yourself). In a lot of ways, it's kind of like trying to play goalie against that unknown ace opponent. The more you train, the more you plan, the more you compile, the more of a slap in the face it is when you still have that ball sail by you, a goal for the other proverbial team.
Friends, I am not saying prevention is not the best plan. It is. More often than not, your efforts will forestall, deter, or at least delay that Big Bad Thing from happening. Or give you enough of a running start that you will be able to cut it (whatever ‘it’ is) at the proverbial pass.
By staying actively involved in your kids’ schooling, for example, you’ll observe potential learning missteps earlier, you’ll be aware of behavioral hiccups as they begin to emerge and you’ll know completely what ‘normal’ looks like for your kiddos so when things tilt a tiny bit this way or that, you’ll know. You'll know if their forward movement up the march of the learning ladder gets halted or stalled.
By getting all of the basics into the pantry, and loading up your drinking water supply, you’ll be ready for that Big A$$ Storm/supply chain strike/potential government uprising. You will all get really tired of UHT milk, pasta and beans but you’ll be fed.
By ordering your allergy meds in advance, by baking sure your lice treatment is not expired, by getting bandaids by the multi-size package, you are ready to rid your family of sneezing and sinus issues, creepy crawlies and fix boo-boos in a single bound. By keeping plenty of batteries on hand, and getting there early for the flu shot, and running in to pee at a gas stop even if you don’t necessarily need to go, you are ahead of the flashlight-fading/fever-and-aches/bladder-too-full curve.
Yay for you!
But sometimes, your efforts will be thwarted. Try as you might to plan, prevent, and stock-up, you just can’t get ahead. Your toys in the Gift Closet don’t fit the birthday kid, or your recipe calls for just one more cup of flour than you have on-hand, or ... that darn screening appointment needs that one additional piece of paperwork you don’t happen to have with you and you are 8 time zones behind your primary care provider so, no, you can’t get another doctor’s note (probably would have been helpful to mention the need when asked ‘is there anything else needed for the appointment?’ but I’m not holding an international-flight-needed-to-repeat grudge.)
Sometimes, regardless of your best efforts, your kids get sick. Sometimes, you wear gobs of sunscreen and you still get skin cancer. Sometimes, you take in you car as regularly as required for maintenance and you still get a flat tire. I wish all it took was effort and the will to prevent to actually stop these bad things from happening.
So what you can do? My motto is to always make an effort, but I also know that Real Life is full of these challenges and when they arrive in your doorstep, I am strong enough get by them and refigure my new course. Part of 'be prepared' is to know that you can't be prepared for everything.
Some things I do to try to out-smart Murphy.
1. Lunch tokens - sometimes, even if your intention is to pack lunch for your kiddos every day, sometimes it just doesn't happen. Or they leave the bag on the bus. Or it falls in the mud. Or whatever it might be, but knowing that your kids have a back-up option is a nice piece of peace of mind. Same goes for things like shuttle or bus tokens because you just never know when that flat tire might happen or someone else need the car.
2. Feminine hygiene - stockpile. They don't go bad and there is absolutely no need to have to figure out a Plan B when you can keep a stash of emergency supplies in your bag, in your office, in your car. Especially where we live, you just don't know what you might find in the next shopping option.
3. First aid kit. Ok, not full-blown but I can offer you a variety of sizes if bandages, first aid cream and a hug.
4. Bottle of water, generally for each member of my entourage because it is always right when you pull out of easy-access-to-water when at least one child is SO THIRSTY they are going to DIE.
5. A well-stoked pantry to include favorite Asian sauces, various grains, flours, and baking supplies. When in doubt, buy 2.
6. Winter/cold weather clothing even though we live in a warm climate. I swear, making sure the boys each have a pair of sufficiently-long jeans is SUCH a challenge. I just had to do some training and it was unexpectedly cooler than normal in my training location. Guess what I forgot? (How does a grown woman forget to pack enough socks?!)
7. Batteries of all sizes. Yes, even those Ds will get used. We don't fly through batteries as we used to, thanks to the USB charging trend but we still use a lot more than we thought we ever would. And you know full well that smoke alarm is going to crap out in the wee hours of the morning, and if you don't have that replacement 9v, no one is going to get a good night's sleep. I guess lightbulbs would fall into this category, too, but if your house is like ours, every single socket seems to have a different mode of attachment for the bulb so I have found that it is actually a lot easier to just take the dead bulb with me to the store to get the right one.
8. Windshield wiper blades. I have no idea why every car on the planet has to have different wiper dimensions, nor do I understand how they get ripped apart so quickly but they do and the last thing you want to have to is wait for your Amazon box to arrive in order to drive with a clean windshield (having ridden in many a taxi in Dakar with the driver sticking his head out the window because it was raining and his wipers were dead already ... I do not want to be that driver!).
9. Pet supplies. In our current case, litter and food. Especially because, like kids, kittens tend to go on eating sprees when they are growing. And when they eat that much, they use the box a lot more than you'd think.
10. Gift closet. I've mentioned it before. The gift closet has saved me many a time when that invite comes on Monday for a Friday afternoon party and I have to work all week. Now me kids help me pick things to put in the closet (mostly toys they want for themselves, actually), and they really like to get in there and pick whatever toy it will be for their friends. Stocking up on wrapping options is good, too. I've recently learned how hard it is to wrap a nerf football, by the way, so learn from my mistake and if you are filling your closet with odd-shaped toys, it's a good idea to get wrapping options to suit. A well-stocked gift closet is great back-up for things like Toys for Tots, too, or any toy drives.
Even the best laid plans sometimes get thwarted. It’s okay, that’s real life. Have a few back-up tricks in your pocket, though, and you will be able to figure out another way.