Expecting The Unexpected: Preparing for Life’s Interruptions

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expect the unexpected


About a month after my son’s spinal fusion I took him to the ER concerned about infection. His back was red and blotchy at the surgical site, and he was running a fever and very dystonic. We spent most of September in the hospital as he fought an MSSA infection.

To say I was caught off guard is an understatement. We had recently started our school year, and things were going smoothly. Now, everything was off the rails.

While I was in the hospital with my son, my husband, who couldn’t take off work, scrambled to find someone to watch our other three children. Lesson plans and curriculum were scattered to the wind. He scooped up what he could find, hastily packed the children’s bags, and rushed them off to the lovely homeschool mom who would take care of them for the next several weeks.

Caring for my medically-complex son and struggling through chronic illness has caused me to pause and reflect. What if he has to be hospitalized again for more than a couple days? What if something happens to me? Is there a way to avoid the chaos that comes with an unexpected event, especially as it pertains to homeschooling?

The simple answer is to be prepared. Preparation is a point of calm in the chaos, and it will ensure a sense of normalcy for your children should something unexpected happen to disrupt your everyday routine.

There are a few simple steps you can take to ensure chaos is not part of your life when the bottom drops out. Your life is sure to have enough stress . . . don’t add to it!

Write up a course of study for each student. Make a list of the curriculum you’re using for the year and the supplies you’ll need on hand (you have this one done, right? As part of natural homeschooling prep!) Keep said curriculum organized and handy.

Have lesson plans written up for at least 3 to 4 weeks at any given time. Be as general or specific as you need to be. Don’t worry about dividing it into weeks or months or attaching dates to them. Keep it simple and flexible.

Print off any material you need to fill those 3 to 4 weeks, and keep it organized in some kind of filing system.

If you use any kind of software or online material, make note of it in your lesson planning notebook. Don’t forget to write down websites and passwords!

Make a list of the co-ops or groups you’re a part of with contact information. Also, include in your notebook any vital information about your children that will assist whoever will be caring for them. Allergies, medical issues, number for the pediatrician, insurance information, emergency contact numbers, permission to treat, etc.

Most importantly, go over this with your spouse, family members, and closest friends. Before chaos ensues, ask them if they’d be willing to watch your children in case of emergency. If they are agreeable, share with them your notebook and go over your course of study and lesson plans. Then, if something comes up, they’ll have had a taste of what goes on in your homeschool. Less chaos. More normalcy.

Our God is a God of order and logic. We should seek to imitate Him. Don’t be caught unaware—expect the unexpected, and be ready for it! Things will be sure to run more smoothly, and it will give you a peace of mind. Don’t wait; start today. You’ll be glad you did.


Cheryl L. Stansberry is a Reformed Christian (OPC) writer with a desire to exalt the Lord Jesus Christ and make Him beautiful and glorious in the eyes of the people. She homeschools her four children out on the eastern plains of Colorado.

But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord ~ Joshua 24:15b

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"Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it" (Proverbs 22:6).