Expecting the unexpected

As a mother of three, unexpected things are constantly part of our lives. Someone gets sick. Something is needed for the school — the very next day. Something gets lost. You name it.

The only way I’ve found to work for us is to expect these unexpected things.

Of course, I don’t mean to worry all day and night about what can get wrong the next minute. Not at all! But getting prepared, and being flexible to make a plan “B” or plan “C”… or even plan “Z” (the alphabet has 26 letters, doesn’t it?) is always part of my days.

Like recently.

I was traveling the last week of September, to speak at Microsoft Ignite in Orlando, FL. Then I needed a week “off”, when I could slow down and work on some business planning stuff (my next courses, content calendar, etc.).

When I was ready to get back to my “normal” schedule, it hit us: my eldest son got an ear infection, and three days later, my daughter, too.

We’ve been spending the last two weeks with a never-ending cycle of doctor appointments and treatments. It’s been insane. We’re making jokes now that it could be the title of a bad soap opera: ten doctor appointments in ten days. Crazy!

Of course, I also have work to finish these days. Deadlines definitely don’t know anything about your family’s health. And the length of my task list doesn’t get shorter overnight either — unless I work through the night like an owl.

The only thing I am able to survive these days and stay sane is to get prepared. Mentally as well as logistically. Yes, I can hire a nurse to take of my kids when they are sick, but I am the one who takes them to the doctors and also the one who they need the most.

Many say “good for you, you’re a stay-at-home-mom”.

Yes, I (mostly) work from home. But this doesn’t mean I don’t work long hours day and night.

Good for me but it’s a decision I’ve made a couple of years ago. I don’t think there would be any employers in this world who could tolerate my need for flexibility. I know this and made it work.

Moreover, this flexibility I need and have make it possible to manage days and weeks when something unexpected hits us. This is how I can be prepared by always having enough “buffer” in my calendar “just in case”. Sometimes I am better at this, sometimes not — I am still learning. This, combining with my task and time management tools and practices is the way I expect the unexpected.

What is your secret? How you stay sane when everything gets insane around you?