- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 27, 2001

My son Joseph came home from practicing with his home-school volleyball team recently, and I immediately knew something was wrong. A teammate had been injured while preparing a project for an upcoming science fair. He was in the trauma unit of a local hospital with a head injury and the possibility of losing his right eye. My heart immediately went out to the young man and his family.

As I prayed for his recovery, I thought of his mother and what she would face. Not only would she need to set aside her daily household schedule, but home-schooling her injured son and three other children also probably would be put on hold.

This was a wake-up call for me. Hearing about Joseph's friend reminded me how quickly our lives can be changed. I realized I had not sufficiently prepared my home or home-school for the unexpected.

As home-school parents, we should have an emergency plan in case we suddenly are called away from our families or are physically unable to meet the needs of our households. As I considered what to include in my plan, I looked at my three major areas of responsibility: home management, household duties and home-schooling.

If anyone wants to know what's going on in our family, he or she comes to me. I bought a desk calendar so crucial information could be found in my absence. I let my entire family and a trusted friend know where it could be found. On it I listed important names and telephone numbers along with banking and insurance information. Next I went month by month and marked the due dates of bills, property taxes and insurance premiums for the year. Finally, I noted social commitments, dental and medical appointments, etc.

When the unforeseen hits us, it seems our everyday lives suffer the most. Regular meals, laundry and general household cleanup usually are the first things to fall by the wayside. Yet in times of crisis, routine and an orderly home may be more important than ever. Many families are blessed with relatives or fellow church members who can step in, but what if help is unavailable? In that situation, planning is vital.

For meals, keep several boxed or frozen convenience dinners or even "from scratch" dishes frozen and earmarked for emergencies. Need to eat in a hurry? Visit bettycrocker.com. The "What's on Hand" section lists categories such as meat, pasta, vegetables and fruit. Just click on the ingredients you have on hand, and presto you have a choice of recipes.

Don't let laundry pile up. If you find yourself with more than you can handle, swallow your pride and ask for help or pack it up and head to the Laundromat. I have done both.

Maintaining a clean and orderly home can be a never-ending job even when life is running smoothly. Add the unanticipated, and chaos can result. There have been times when I would have been mortified to have someone come into my home unannounced. The hard fact is that illness, injury and death will not wait patiently for us to clean our homes before entering our lives. It is better to spend a couple hours a day cleaning, even when you are tired and ready to call it a day, than to be too embarrassed to let a friend or relative into your home when help is needed.

As home-school dads and moms, we carry the responsibility of educating our children even when we are not available to do the actual teaching. If we maintain daily lesson plans and have an "emergency" list of books, Internet sites, games, videos, etc., our home education programs should be able to continue regardless of who is doing the teaching.

On the other hand, if circumstances take us away from our children and we have been home-schooling "by the seat of our pants," odds are our home-school will come to a screeching halt. No one will be able to step in and take our place because there will be no plan to follow.

I'm happy to say Joseph's friend is doing well. He did not lose his eye, and his mother reports he is starting to look like himself again after reconstructive surgery swollen and black and blue, but himself. As for regaining his eyesight, the doctors aren't yet sure.

None of us knows what tomorrow will bring. Only God knows what the future holds. Should we live in fear of the future? No, but it is up to us to prepare for whatever may lie ahead.

Kim Huber, a mother of four children, has been home-schooling for 17 years. She and her husband serve on the Christian Homeschool Association of Pennsylvania's board of directors. She can be reached by e-mail (CHAPKimH@aol.com).

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