Thursday, 5 January 2012

Disaster Preparedness for the Under 2s

As you may be able to tell I have children, 3 of them - Millie, Joel and Keshet.  I am very proud of them and hence they play an important part in my blog.  The two youngest are under two and at this age there is an air of the unpredictable that surrounds them.  Milk reflux, exploding diapers, unforeseen puddle jumping, an unhealthy interest in next door's dog's digging habits, melting chocolate from granny, fatigue, loss of favourite toys, loss of soother, loss of blanket, loss of humour, loss of ability to stand when confronted with an unsatisfactory choice; all of these can be yours hand in hand with the joy of watching them grow.  A question that my rock n roll and care free non parent friends ask me is how do you do this “how do your prepare for every eventuality?”

This year we will mostly
be wearing....

Now for those of you who read the Logistics of Transporting Children post you’ll probably think that we take everything everywhere with us but it just isn’t practical.  At 6’4 and 240 pounds and 6 years in the military behind me I do OK in a 100litre Bergen backpack but when visiting the more upmarket venues of downtown Bath I am sure people would question the need to bring everything with us.  As every good aid worker does at some time in their life I have experimented with a utility vest and I can’t deny I like that Marlboro man chic.  However as diapers spill out of the rear bellows pockets and “Mr Squiggles” makes an appearance every time you reach for your mobile it isn’t that tool that you want to respond to the many disasters that can occur in the life of the under twos.
So what is the correct way to cover the bodily function, emotional outburst, random boredom home wrecking behaviour that can occur.  How can you carry that kit?  Do you need to hire Sherpas like Everest climbers? Perhaps a little trolley arrangement? The answer to disaster preparedness is a mind-set and not a set of physical attributes or equipment schedules.  Sure “Mr Squiggles” is the best resolution for that emotional outburst but any good parent will tell you that you develop a hyper vigilance for items that can charm a two year old out of the maelstrom of emotion about the thing that they can’t quite remember.  Parents always know where the nearest café or public lavatory will be and can quickly adapt everyday items into makeshift diapers, garments or toys.
There are some key principles for disaster preparedness in the under twos
Multi functionality – A packet of wet wipes is a good toy and a functional tool for cleaning of babies, garments and surfaces.  Taking this one thing can help you in a multitude of situations.
Don’t rely on the plan – That thing you were relying is lying in a muddy puddle half a mile back - as are your hops of baby going to sleep. Having a developed sense of the local resources will help you discern what unlikely item will fill the gap until you have access to the a better solution.
Stay Calm – don’t declare an emergency at the first site of tumbling Starbucks.  There may well be a local resource such as a Starbucks napkin that will save the day.  Your precious wet wipes can remain unemployed and free for removing facial chocolate before visiting aunt Maud. (a note to non parents – a Starbucks napkin does not have the tensile strength to remove chocolate from a toddlers face)
Know your stockholding ­– The first thing to reach for in this case is the management information.  How many diapers do I have and where are they? 
Disaggregate your stores -  Oh no the diapers got soaked in the Todller apple juice and latte incident……fear not here are some I keep in another location.  Even stores protected against rain damage can get damaged by fire so don’t rely on your mitigating packaging.
In short the whilst a healthy equipment schedule and a solid framework of a plan are an essential pivot around which to use your creativity in any disaster situation, when in doubt think “what would mamma do?”

NB My kids never do any of the above, this is all for the purposes of demonstration.....I love you guys!

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