Giving Some Thought to Contingencies

I like to think I have a relatively good handle on life responsibilities. Sure it’s a juggling act: appointments, work meetings, supper prep, laundry, and getting Aunt Mabel’s birthday card in the mail on time (I don’t actually have an Aunt Mabel, and I don’t even send birthday cards to any of my aunts – or uncles for that matter – but somehow Aunt Mabel sounded like a good representative name).

But ask anyone close to me and they can tell you I’m a worrier by nature. Not just a worrier, but I like to think through 100 (equally unlikely) worst-case scenarios. One day, when John and I were newly engaged, I worked myself up into a frenzy over sushi and someone not having soya sauce at their house. It’s a long story, but suffice to say we still joke about this mental spiral over soya sauce regularly.

So while I’m trying to dial down some of my irrational neuroses (recently, it involved new hardware for our front door, where I spiraled to epic heights over something that had about 0.01% chance of happening)…I have been thinking about the wisdom of thinking through reasonable contingencies. Not out of worry or anxiety, but pragmatic planning for things that have more than a 0.001% chance of happening.

The door and the hardware were just fine…
  • What would I do if the kids were suddenly home for 2 weeks due to a teacher strike (or COVID outbreak, which, it turns out IS currently happening in our area)?
  • What would I do if our dishwasher broke?
  • What would we do if our power went on during a cold snap?
  • What would we do if our basement flooded?

I’m not going to have my kids do dry-runs of at-home learning over the weekends or source a new dishwasher, but maybe when I see a set of Bluetooth headphones that would make it easier for Levi to concentrate on schoolwork if he had to do at-home learning again (perish the thought), I might buy them. Maybe I’d take the time to write down the name of the small appliance repairman my friend mentions in passing. I can check the propane levels for our backup heating source and make sure I have lots of candles and flashlights stockpiled.

Maybe I can pick the stack of books up off the basement floor and store them in a plastic tote. I know that’s where I’m going to be storing wrapped Christmas gifts moving forward.


It can be a delicate balance – not overthinking what might happen, while understanding the importance of being prepared. I don’t have all the answers, but I’m heading off to put in an order for a propane delivery…just to be on the safe side.

What about you? Any contingencies you’ve planned for that you’ve ended up having to fall back on?

6 thoughts on “Giving Some Thought to Contingencies”

  1. I’m the opposite right now and am trying to NOT think through the ‘what if’ scenarios! I typically would but right now I am so exhausted and overwhelmed with life as is, I can’t even think about what we would do if we had to quarantine. That’s the thing I am most concerned about. Everything else would be fine for the most part, barring any true catastrophe! But a quarantine would be so horrible as the first month of the year is one of the busiest times of year for my husband and me at work… And right now I”m waiting for a PCR test as I had a positive at home antigen test. So I am trying my best not to panic and am reminding myself it was a false positive last time this happened. But I probably feel worse this time so am worried I truly have covid. But I think that I can’t contingency plan because there is just nothing we could do… we can’t call in help from my parents and risk getting them sick. So we’d just have to survive it I guess? Bleh.

    But I can see the value in thinking through scenarios and how you would handle them! Especially if there is a solution/way to offset the situation you are going through!

    1. Ugh. Oh no! I am so sorry to hear about the positive antigen test. I truly hope the PCR test comes back negative.

      I 100% understand what you mean and even at the best of times it is a fine balance between worrying about potential scenarios and knowing that much of the time even planning in advance can do nothing to prevent/offset them.

      You have had such a tough go lately – it’s time for you and the rest of the family to catch a break health and sleep wise!

  2. I am a planner by nature and always think about the what-ifs in life. However, I am also very practical. If moving abroad, 6000 miles away from my family, has taught me one thing, it is that I can pretty much handle anything (most things!) that have been thrown at me. Has it always been fun? No. But I am usually confident that I can find a solution to a problem. That doesn’t mean I don’t also like to be prepared. I don’t very often “run out of things” (because I plan ahead) and I always look at things with “future opportunity” in mind. It’s just how I think. It sounds like you think the same way.

  3. I really love this way of thinking. As someone who worries about every. single. thing, I don’t know if the answer is to just “not worry” because that’s not something I’m built to do. I am a natural worrywart, so maybe the more appropriate response is to ALLOW myself to worry, but only if I’m going to DO SOMETHING about it. For instance, I spend a lot of time worrying how I’d corral both of my cats if there was a fire at my apartment. One cat hates being picked up and both are effective hiders (especially when the smoke alarm goes off!) So I really need to make a plan of what I’d do – how am I going to grab both of them and get them in their carrier? By having a plan, I can ease the worry a bit!

    Of course, not all worries can have a contingency plan, but how freeing would it be to make the plans for the worries that can? AMAZING.

    1. Action is the antidote to anxiety!

      I don’t actually have that many contingencies planned myself, but like that I’m aware of the power of having thought through some specific scenarios.

  4. Oh, man, I TOTALLY do this. I constantly play “what if” scenarios in my head. Down to “What if there is someone in the [apartment] gym when I want to go?” I mean, talk about a completely minor thing in my life.
    I find, though, that knowing a) I will survive (ha, it’s the GYM, for Pete’s sake!), and b) that I have a backup plan helps me stop perseverating. At least a little bit.
    Your mental spirals sound a bit like my OCD attacks. To be clear, I don’t have OCD. But on evenings when I am feeling like life that day got completely out of control, I will have this sudden need to… organize the bathroom closet, or find X (when I don’t need X and won’t need it for the foreseeable future), etc. Maybe it’s a coping mechanism of some kind? Exerting control where I have none? Who knows…
    Aren’t brains fun? šŸ™‚

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