Managing Expectations with Emergency Lists

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Managing Expectations with Emergency Lists

“Congratulations, darling. We are so proud of you. “ my mother’s voice through the phone was warm and approving. “In celebration, your father and I have decided to take you on a cruise.”

“That’s wonderful!” I gushed, my heart racing with excitement. “The kids and I have never been on a cruise.”

“Oh, no. Not the kids.” My mother corrected. “Just you.” Ah. Hmm.. Okay, then…

I am a single mother of three children. One of my children is a busy teenager with an overly full concert schedule. Another of my children is on the Autism spectrum and has several special needs. One of my children is only 4. I have just been offered a free week-long Caribbean cruise. What do I do?

Heck, yeah, I went.

All I can say about leaving my three children with a sitter for 9 days is Thank God for my Household Expectations Binder.


My household expectations binder is all about Managing Expectations. In my article Managing Expectations with Room Cleaning Checklists, I spoke about one important part of Out Household Expectations binder – the cleaning lists. In this article, I am going to cover a second, equally important section. I am going to show you what Emergency Lists you should keep in your Expectations binder and How to create them.


managing expectations with emergency lists, go bag, medication lists, checklists, household expectations binder, managing your household, household organization

Emergency Lists

Sometimes the unexpected happens. It’s unavoidable. Perhaps, like me, you were going on vacation and leaving your kids with a sitter. Maybe you are evacuating ahead of a storm or fire. Perhaps there was a family emergency and you need to leave. During these times you don’t want to be thinking about things like medication and who is or is not on the phone tree.   In these times you want to be able to focus on the task or activity at hand. Enter the Household Expectations manual. A babysitter who steps in or an emergency that comes up should have minimal impact on the running of your household because you have mitigated issues through the effective management of expectations.


So – What kinds of emergency lists do you need?

  1. Medical Lists
  2. Contact Lists
  3. Go Bag List


Medical Lists

My medical lists section of our Household Expectations Manual deals with medical conditions, medication, and allergies. I keep the following information in this section:

  1. Medical Conditions. As a family the list of medical conditions that we suffer from is lengthy. Each person is listed here along with whatever medical issues they may have.
  2. Daily Medication. A List of Daily Medications for each member of my family including dosages and what times they are administered
  3. Emergency Medication. Several members of my family have specific medical conditions, which require a standing supply of emergency medications. Each item on this list includes not only instructions on how to administer the medication, but detailed instructions on what kinds of situations would require that particular medication.
  4. PRN Medications. I can be rather particular about over the counter medications. There are some that have proved completely ineffectual with my children and others that they react to in a  strange manner. In the PRN medication section of my Emergency Lists, I list common medical conditions and what medication I prefer that each family member takes for that. For example, my daughter is prone to sores in her mouth. The only thing we have found that is effective when she gets a mouth sore is a combination of Maalox and liquid Benedryl. Under this section of the medical lists I have:


  • Mouth Sores – Samantha – Mouth rinse of equal parts Maalox and liquid Benadryl


  1. I include not only allergies to medication (I am allergic to codeine and penicillin) but also food allergies and seasonal allergies in here as well



Contact Lists

Because I have a child with a behavioral disorder I have three sections to my contact list section. Depending on the needs of your family you may only have 2. The lists in my contact section include:

  1. Behavioral phone tree. Because of my son’s condition, I have developed a list of people that can be called if he is having a severe episode and I am either unreachable or unable to attend to the matter. The people on this list are called in order depending on the severity of the issue. I have clearly designated on the list those people with the authorization to approve the administration of emergency medication.
  2. Emergency Contacts. This list includes numbers such as the police, hospital and poison control as well as the people I have designated as my emergency contacts, one local and one not.
  3. Other contacts. This list includes any phone numbers that I think that someone other than myself would possibly need. On this list, I have included the number of all of the doctors that children see as well as the vet. I also have the numbers to the kid’s school, the church and to a coworker at my office. Finally, I have the numbers of any family or friends that are on my “emergency phone tree”. These are people that would need to be contacted if, say, a member of my family ended up in the hospital.


The Go Bag List

I have been hit by tornadoes multiple times. I moved from stormy Oklahoma to Sunny coastal Georgia only to be hit by a hurricane. Trust me when I say that there are times that you will need to leave in a hurry. Without a go bag list, you will forget something every time. Our list has become so useful that we use it not only when we have to evacuate, but also when we decide to go away for the weekend.

Now technically, it is better to have a physical go bag ready at all times. We try, honestly, it doesn’t always happen. It can sometimes be hard to have things that you don’t use. What I use this list for mostly is a checklist of “don’t get in the car without this stuff”. These are items that I make sure to always, always know where they are at so that they may be gathered inside 5 minutes.

Go Bag Items:

  • An emergency supply of medication. Depending on the medication this may take some time, but it is a good idea to gather and stockpile at least a week extra of all the medications that your family takes.
  • A stash of money in cash. Like the medication, this may be something that you have to build up to. However, emergencies don’t always keep banking hours. A little cash can go a long way to getting you and your family by until the banks open.
  • Important paperwork. Wherever you keep your important documents you should know where they are at and be able to get to them. If they are kept in your house, they should be together so that you can grab them on your way out. If you keep them in a safe deposit box (the better option) you should know where the key is and be able to get to that.
  • A change of clothes for each person. You would not believe how many times we have nearly forgotten socks or underwear. By having these on the go bag list you can make sure that each family member has the clothes they need to last them at least a few days.
  • Anything you or your family members can’t live without. This could be anything from cell phone chargers to the Mickey Mouse blanket that my son refuses to sleep without.



Managing expectations means leaving as little as possible to chance. It means controlling the things that you can control so that you are free to deal with the things that you can’t control.  Whether this list is to help a babysitter manage in your absence or to help you manage in an emergency, Emergency lists can be a timesaver and a lifesaver in moments of crisis and uncertainty.


Do you have anything that you would add to your Emergency Lists section? I would love to hear about it. Leave me a comment below.

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