Being Ahead Of Time

Last week, one of my daughters brought home a nasty stomach bug from school that brought down our family one by one. I was stuck at home for an entire week taking care of loved ones, along with a few sick days of my own. Thank goodness I had taken care of some things ahead of time.

These kinds of situations are never fun and you just have to get through them. It was a tremendous help, though, that many household tasks and holiday projects had already been started. Time spent organizing turned out to be a blessing.

Prevention is always better than cure. So here are some ideas of things you can take care of now, in order to get through unexpected downtime that may come later:

1. Have the makings of one to two back-up meals in case you can’t get to the store for a couple of days. We were fortunate to have yummy leftovers for the non-sick family members because I had made extra the evening before. You can also keep some frozen meals and even extra loaf of bread or in the freezer.
2. If you’re out shopping and you see something that would make a good gift for someone, get it right then–even if you think you could just pick it up “next time.” This has been tremendously helpful for kid birthday party presents, as well as the kinds of token gifts you might give as a hostess or as a small thank you gift.
3. If you have a regular writing assignment, such as a column or professional blog, try to have one piece that’s done and ready to go for tough times. It should be an evergreen topic that could be used at any time of year. You will be so pleased that you don’t have to produce copy while nursing a fever.

4. In general, do things a little early if you can. At least, don’t feel weird about it like I sometimes do. When you’re in the mood to get some of your part of a project or errand done far in advance, seize the moment.  A brief illness may keep you off task, but a written plan can point the way as you muddle back into the real world.

5. Get gas for your car if it’s below half full and you’re near a good gas station. You’ll never be caught off guard with a surprise trip and less than you need in the tank. Plus a full tank is very satisfying, like a new tube of toothpaste or a fresh manicure.

6. Throw in a load of laundry practically every day if you’re handling this chore for your family. This keeps you on top of things, with some clean things available even when you’re unexpectedly sick or busy. We have a spare set of sheets for each bed too, which I recommend.
7. For favorite food, health and beauty products, buy or order a backup so there’s always one at the ready (online shopping can help with this). Make your next appointment with your hair dresser, doctor or dentist while you’re there for your current session. For writers, think about supplies and tasks you can do in advance.

This is not to say that you should spend your life in a constant state of preparation, to the detriment of enjoying the present. But anything you can do ahead of time, when you have the time and inclination, is worth it. One week of family illness makes that point all too clear.

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