An emergency can pop up at any time!
One that I recall vividly occurred a number of years ago.
Our (then) four-year-old daughter was seriously injured in our new house before it was completely built. She had stepped into an open heater vent and managed to shave the flesh from the back of her foot!
While the situation was shocking and potentially dire, I had to keep my wits about me; becoming hysterical would have only added stress to the situation and caused the injured child more harm. I had to think fast, I had to have a plan. I couldn’t just sit there and scream in panic. The children were upset, of course, and they looked to me for direction. Blessedly, there was a certain order with which I had learned over the years to tackle situations like these.
Here it is in a nutshell:
Assess the situation.
Of course our first alert to the incident was screaming, so there was no way of knowing what had actually taken place without gathering more information. After calming everyone down, I began to ask questions, and then I examined my daughter. Seeing the extent of the injury struck fear in my heart, but I did not react, I prayed, we all prayed at that moment and all along the rest of the way…I am certain that without walking daily with God I would not have been able to handle the situation with such reserve.
Formulate a plan.
With prayer and a clear mind, I was able to begin to have a plan of action; stop the bleeding, wrap the wound (the house was empty and it was summertime, so there was nothing to wrap the injured foot in but my slip, just like in an old-fashioned cowboy movie), get everyone calmed down and informed, and put everyone into the van so that we could head to the emergency room.
Gather resources and put the plan into place.
While on the way to the ER I started ordering how the situation would be handled; I assigned older children to younger children, decided who would be with me in the ER, decided what would be prepared for dinner and designated who would be cooking and cleaning.
At the time I had a five month old infant whom I was nursing and a toddler and other small children at home, which meant the situation was quite complicated; the infant was with me throughout the ordeal at the hospital, so it was vital that an older sibling stay with me to help with many of the logistical details there, and Daddy needed helpers at home so that things could go on smoothly for the other younger children. Everyone, even the older children with jobs and outside plans, was more than willing to drop everything and help.
After the long wait and subsequent surgery, our little girl only needed an overnight stay in the hospital for observation until she could return home. Thankfully, our oldest daughter (19 at the time) lovingly volunteered, and so the younger child was comforted and watched after so that I could return home to care for the other smaller children and keep the household going.
This happened during a time when we were trying to sell our house and were dealing with chickenpox!
Oh, and we had 12 children living with us at the time–can you imagine? I had to find ways to keep this child happy while she was immobile, keep her wound clean, take her to subsequent doctor’s appointments over a half of an hour away, etc.
Believe it or not, our lives did not fall apart. By God’s grace everything went smoothly; our daughter healed, our old house sold, and within two months we moved into the home of our prayers, with twice the living space, bedrooms, and bathrooms as before!
Throughout the whole ordeal ordering our lives according to priorities kept chaos and stress to a minimum and helped us to not only survive, but thrive as a family.
A mother who has a list of priorities and keeps them in order can save a family much grief, especially in times of great stress such as:
- A new baby or other addition to the family
- Job changes
- Family emergencies, such as fire, flood, death or illness
- Vacation and travel
- Schedule changes
Some of the things I do each day are unnecessary, others are essential. While changes and stresses can put a wrench in the best-laid plans, there are some areas that must not be neglected such as:
- Keeping in fellowship with God—Prayer, the Word and things like praise and worship are more important to me than eating! If I ever skip this vital conversation and meditation on the Word my whole day seems out of whack.
- Keeping in touch with one’s spouse—No matter how many children I have, my relationship with my husband is still my most intimate, and it needs daily watering in order to stay healthy. It’s so easy to discount each other when there are so many other responsibilities screaming for attention. Thankfully, he is a romantic man at heart and is always looking for ways for us to “date,” even if it turns out to be one more stop on a whirl-wind round of errands.
- Keeping in touch with one’s children—Even during times of rebellion or disobedience, my children need positive, personal input from their mother. It’s not just about words, but sitting and listening, or being interested in their interests. I not only ask what they are doing, but sometimes I play along with them for a few moments. If I am extra busy, I include them in what I am doing; be it cutting up apples or running to the store. While I am working I am asking them open-ended questions, such as, “Whhat do you like most about chocolate?”
- Keeping everyone fed—While family members contribute from time-to time, the ultimate responsibility for feeding everyone is mine. This is why I have a short list of quick fixin’s, such as hot dogs, fish sticks, etc., for those times when things are too hectic to do much planning or prepping.
- Keeping everyone clean in a clean environment—Disorder and filth breed depression, chaos, and disease. The laundry needs to be done and put away and the tiny ones need to be changed, bathed, and clean from head to toe. Even young (and sometimes old) teens need to be reminded to shower and keep themselves up. Oh, and Mom needs to have time to keep herself looking and smelling as good as possible under the circumstances (the way a mom looks has a great effect on the esprit de corps of the entire family).
- Dealing with health issues—Nutrition, remedies, medical attention and medicines must all be attended to. This was especially important while experiencing the circumstances I have just described. The children with chicken pox needed to be bathed with oatmeal and have their sores tended to. The little girl with the injury needed to be given antibiotics periodically. Everyone needed to eat well and keep hydrated (it was the middle of summer). A clear mind and some specific coordination had to be put in place.
- Taking care of business—Paying bills, maintaining appliances and household furnishings, maintaining communication with neighbors and relatives are all things that are important to the functioning of a family. Thankfully, I am married to an awesome man who thrives on keeping our bills current and dealing with most of the business part of our lives. I am the person in charge of correspondence (something I don’t always do well…I write out the cards and forget to mail them…), and I also keep in touch via phone with those concerned during a crisis (now that’s something I can do well!). I am also in charge of keeping our appliances going; something immensely important when we have sick children to care for! Regular maintenance during “normal” times is key here.
- Encouraging beauty and culture—Believe it or not, my family relies on me to add that little bit of “special” to each day, whether it be wildflowers in a vase, some classical music in the background, or a bit of sweetness at the end of a meal. Especially in times of distress, mothers need to keep a little bit of “sparkle” in the home. Of course, creating an atmosphere of praise and worship by playing and singing “psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs making melody in your hearts unto the Lord,” Ephesians 5:19, makes all the difference!
The greatest key to keeping calm in an emergency situation is this: knowing that God loves us and is working all things together for our good.
It doesn’t matter what sort of circumstance it is, He is never worried about it, and He said He would be with me to the end of the world. All I have to do is turn the gaze of my heart to Him and I am instantly strengthened and encouraged.
If you have been following along, we have been doing a number of posts on large family stress reduction. First, we discussed how to get ahead (part one and part two), streamline, face it, and our latest post was all about using herding to keep things flowing peacefully.