A few months back, I served on jury duty. It ended up lasting a whole week, with 10+ hour days. The last night, as everyone was deliberating, we were there until after midnight. It was a lot – especially as a mom with two young kids.
While jury duty was quite an experience in and of itself, one thing stood out to me: many, many moms asked not to be chosen as a juror because they needed to be home for their children. The response to this plea from the court was this: What is your emergency plan? Whatever that plan is, apply it now. But many didn’t have a plan. And I realized my plan desperately needed some updating.
Before we get to my tips, a quick time-out. Parenting is hard. Childcare is ridiculously expensive, and there’s not enough of it. Our country’s healthcare and family leave policies are abysmal. It’s incredibly difficult to find your village. But things like jury duty, emergency room visits, and even things like getting stuck in traffic happen. So, if you’re a parent reading this, I hope you take a moment to get an emergency plan together or get it updated. Just in case something unplanned happens.
Figure out who that first phone call would be
I think moms are used to taking it all on. But I also believe that when you ask, people are usually willing to help. Pretend you have an emergency right now where you cannot take care of your kids. If you don’t know who you would call, reach out to someone you trust and ask them if they are okay with being your emergency contact. Have that conversation and have that someone.
Consider emergency babysitting services
Care.com and Sitting Made Simple are a couple of services available locally. Check out a few of these services now, set up an account, and have them ready to go in case your emergency contact is unavailable.
Try to have a neighbor on call
Let’s say you’re at home with your kids, and you need to leave immediately. Even if you have that person who is your “first call,” it may take them some time before they can get to you. If possible, have a neighbor where you could do a quick, temporary drop-off if needed.
Have that list of emergency contact information
We keep a form on our refrigerator, and I also have a copy that I’ve given to our emergency contacts. This should include your children’s names, address, phone number, doctor contact information, dentist contact information, and additional emergency contacts. While I had this done, I realized that if someone were staying with my kids for a day or more, they would need more information. I’ve since added school contacts, teacher names, bus driver names and bus numbers, bus pickup and drop-off times, medications, sports practice schedules, and friends’ parents’ names and numbers.
Be sure your kids understand your emergency plan
Your kids will be less anxious if they are confident and prepared. Do they know how to call 9-1-1? Do they know a trusted neighbor? Do they know who they might have to stay with if you can’t be around? Having those conversations ahead of time will put them and you at ease.
Don’t forget about pets!
Depending on how long you need to be away, you may need help with pets too. Find that contact (friend, neighbor, Rover.com) and create a list of emergency contacts with a feeding schedule for them, too.
While I hope your family stays safe and that you are spared jury duty, unlike me, it’s always better to be prepared and have that emergency plan – just in case.