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September 25, 2015

The Power of a Plan B

In a fit of end-of-summer ambition and good will, I decided it would be nice to host a Potluck-Picnic-Back-to-School-Bash at our new house. We never had a housewarming, and we’d been meeting families at our kids’ schools that we wanted to get to know. So, one Paperless Post invitation later, we were ready to go.

Paperless Post
Add in a few instructions on what to bring:

We will handle the main dishes. If your last name is A –  O, please bring a side dish. If your last name is P – Z, please bring an appetizer or dessert. Share in the comments what you will bring.

Many people nicely RSVP’d with items like brownies, watermelon, and bean salad. 44 of them, in fact, including 24 children under the age of 7. We had Cornhole, a water table, and lots of balls, bats and cones. Guests were to bring their own chairs and blankets.

Perfect plan, right?

And then the night before, the weather report was like this. In case you couldn’t hear the weatherman correctly, here are a few choice words from his forecast: heavy rain, isolated flooding, strong gusts, major downpours, umbrella, poncho.

Gulp. Visions of Lord of the Flies danced in my head. I’m all for children making their own fun, but not 24 of them running hog wild around my house. Possibly with mud on their feet.

Weatherman Screenshot

I needed a Plan B. I remembered that I am a former elementary school teacher. So I called one of my good friends, Regan K., while racing through the aisles of Target looking for indoor amusements. She suggested a checklist of sorts. Brilliant! A checklist for the big kids. Sort of like a scavenger hunt. We brainstormed via text message (it was late), and the next morning, I came up with this!

Big Kid Party Checklist

You will notice I basically used items we already had on hand, tried to include a balance of movement and sitting still, and made the children clean up. It took all of five minutes to create this checklist, make copies on my printer, and set up stations around the house.

You may be wondering why I didn’t have a Plan B from the start. You know, I didn’t want to waste too much time and energy over what COULD happen when a 44 person picnic moves INSIDE. And I knew that if rain did happen, I could figure out what to do in 24 hours. If this were, say, a wedding, I would have strategized a little more in advance. But I’m personally comfortable with a 24-hour scramble for something low stakes. And OF COURSE, the kids would have been just fine without a checklist–but an anchor activity or two can be helpful (especially for the parents!) when little people start bouncing off the walls or torturing the cats. I wish I had a picture, but at 5 PM, after checklists were done, we turned on Stuart Little and passed out Cheddar Bunnies. All was well in the world.

When do you need a Plan B? And when can you make one last minute?

PS – More about my family’s summer adventures, and hitting the re-set when you need a Plan B for a whole week.

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