By Lori Martin, The Simplicity Blog
The family photo that accompanies this post is one I treasure. A priceless moment of my family walking together following Easter service 3 years ago. Nobody is looking at the camera and I capture the moment exactly as it happened. No silly grins, no posing, no whining . just a peaceful walk to the car. I just love moments such as this!
I came to treasure these moments even more (and I promised myself never to take them for granted) after I experienced a medical trauma in 2004. Five days following the birth of my son (now 7), I was sent back to the hospital for nearly a week.
I had unknowingly torn a major artery and was in serious condition. Following surgery and a significant transfusion, I was strong enough to return home but still too weak to care for my family.
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My well intended care givers (mother, mother in law, husband, babysitters, neighbors) all desperately wanted to help me. I had a 2 year old and she needed constant supervision, a newborn son, and I was silently grieving the traumatic experience I had been through.
I had thought of it all. Emergency numbers were taped to the inside of my pantry, the extra insurance card was tucked away on my memo board, the daycare phone number was taped to the fridge! Wasn’t this all someone would need to understand how to help in an emergency? The short answer was, no.
I found out the hard way that this was not a good way to communicate my daily “mom life” to others. I could understand someone needing to ask me about the details, but the big picture of my daily routine was not mapped out anywhere. My husband even had to ask me which day to put the trash out. Not his fault – I just always took care of it.
After recovery, I decided to never put myself in that position again. I started working on my first “Martin Family Handbook.” My husband jokingly called it my “dork book,” and yes, I had to agree. I became passionate about chronicling my children’s schedules, doctors, medical chart numbers, the foods they liked & didn’t like, the babysitter contacts, the air conditioner repairman etc.! Every piece of information I used to run my daily “mommy job” was documented. It was essentially a living & breathing document for our family and served as “command central.”
Fast forward to today I definitely don’t live my life anticipating another emergency, but what I have discovered is that having all of this critical information in a single place has been a wonderful blessing to my family. I literally use my handbook every day and I take a smaller version (the “on the go” book) with me everywhere.
Awhile back, we were on vacation and my 7 year old cut her leg on a sharp shell at the beach. I had packed my handbook in my suitcase. When we went to urgent care, the doctors had ALL of the information they needed (shot records, pediatricians address & phone, insurance information, claims address, even the dentist address). I happened to be traveling with a physician (a dear friend of mine) and she said, “I can not believe you travel with your kids shot records!” The truth of the matter was that I didn’t even have to think about it. They were just with me in my “handbook.”
I founded The Purple Martin & Co. on the single principle that an organized, regularly updated, family handbook should be a staple in each household. Paper is truly the only shareable resource around. My mother could not reference my iPhone or computer, she could not interpret which babysitter to call from my address book and she definitely would not know the chart number and my daughters favorite “back-up” pediatrician!
Reprinted with permission from The Simplicity Blog, produced by Simplicity Certified Professional Organizers of Charlotte.