In order for prepping to be most effective, it has to have full family participation. Every member of the family has to know where certain things are stored, how to access them when needed, and how to use them properly. All the preps in the world are of little use to your family if you are the only one in the house that knows how to implement them and the plan that should go with them and something happens to you in the early stages of a crisis. So, involving the kids in the prepping and planning, and teaching them certain skills, is an imperative. The same goes for your spouse, it isn’t going to work out in the end if everyone isn’t on the same page.
However, in the case of kids in particular, there is a fine line that must not be crossed. You don’t want your kids to develop anxiety, or to feel like the family is operating out of fear.
With a spouse, and we’re usually talking about a wife since in a lot of instances men get the preparedness bug first, it is similar. You don’t want to instill fear in a spouse or to have them think that you are operating out of a motivation of fear. Fortunately, wives are grown ups, and additionally women have a strong affinity for security. Preparedness isn’t about fear; it is about maintaining security for our family in fearful times.
Back when I had a wife, getting her onboard the prepper train was a fairly easy task. We lived in Florida during the infamous hurricane seasons of 2004 and 2005. At that time I was just ramping up to be a full blown prepper, but as storm after storm rolled through our back yard, knocking out power for days at a time, and disrupting our supply chain, the benefits of having supplies on hand became readily apparent. While everyone else was standing in line at rapidly depleting grocery stores, we were able to focus on more meaningful measures, such as boarding up and hunkering down. As the result of just having a few basics laid in, we were able to eliminate some of the stressful elements of an impending natural disaster. Even if you don’t live in an area prone to such events, the news is always full of such stories from around the world, and there are plenty of things to point to in order to get a reluctant spouse interested in the security that preparedness imparts for her children.
Following the rough hurricane seasons, we entered into the financial collapse of 2008, which by any real measure hasn’t ever ended. We saw dramatically fluctuating fuel prices with corresponding increases in costs of all goods, we watched retirement funds vanish, and saw our home lose more than half its value. Added to this the constant and increasing threat from terrorists, the ever present specter of social unrest and disturbances, and any spouse that can’t see a need for the highest degree of preparedness possible is living like an Ostrich and needs to extricate the head from the sand.
Kids are another matter. You want them to be aware that there are potential threats in the world, but at the same time you don’t want them to become fearful or to dwell on them. You also want to be sure that they acquire the skills they may need if they ever find themselves in a bad spot when temporarily separated from you. I address this issue by making preparedness fun! We have invented all manner of games and employ a lot of humor in the “Survival Skills” learning process.
For example, the area in our basement that is reserved for our food storage has become known as “The Bunker”, when we unload groceries after a shopping trip, there is regular food and bunker food, and the kids help out with the sorting and storing. From time to time we have a “Bunker Food Dinner”, and the kids help in the preparation. By doing this they learn how to use the supplies we have gathered, and we do the cooking outside without power. Bunker Dinners are a lot of fun, and we turn them into a cookout and an occasion with absolutely no negative connotations.
Most of what are considered survival skills could just as easily be called camping skills, or just plain outdoors skills. On Christmas my older three kids got Ferocerium Fire Steels in their stockings. We took them out and made it a face to see who could get a fire going the fastest, we had a blast and the kids learned the skill. We have done the same with shelter building, and add to the experience by spending a night in the shelters I teach them to build, in this way they are learning a very serious skill but the context is a fun family activity.
I am a firm believer that kids should be exposed to firearms and taught safe handling and proficiency at the earliest age possible. This is another great family activity, and an important survival skill that can be introduced as something fun rather than as something dire.
Last week, my kids did an awesome thing that showed me my efforts have not been in vain. They decided we needed an outdoors evening. So, unbeknownst to me they went down to one of their favorite spots on our property and made an awesome fire pit. They dug it out, Gathered large stones to ring it, and when they called me down with hotdogs, they had roasting sticks sharpened and ready, a nice supply of wood gathered, and a perfect fire ready to do some cooking. Off to the side of the fire pit, they had augmented a natural shelter under a bushy tree to serve as a shelter, in case anyone wanted to get out of the elements. Essentially, they had created a survival camp using only elements available to them on the land. We sat around the fire roasting our hotdogs and joking that if this were a crisis situation we would be eating squirrel on a stick. Of course it was not a crisis, so to go with our campfire Chili dogs (They brought a can of chili from the bunker, along with all the other needed condiments) we had roasted marshmallows with Hershey’s chocolate nestled between Graham Crackers, we are all about the S’mores in my tribe! We had a ball, and I was very proud to see what they could do! Even my 6 year old twins helped with the effort, and I’m pretty sure the whole thing was their idea in the first place.
So, how do you get your family involved in prepping? Make it fun for them. Sure, preparedness is serious business, but kids in particular have a lot on their plate with th tough business of growing up! Everything you do should make them feel better, more secure, and should never create fear or anxiety. In prepping, there are a lot of great opportunities to have fun with your kids, to bond with them, and to instill a skill set that will serve them well should times ever take a turn for the worse.
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