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Getting Children Involved in Preparing

February 2, 2012

Children

getting children involved in your prepping

You’ve become convinced that it is wise to prepare for uncertainties in the future as best you can.  You’ve been picking up extra canned goods each month and you are reducing debt wherever you can.  You’ve started having some family discussions around the dinner table.

Last night, there was an interesting debated about how the tensions in Iran could affect the price of oil or what the reduced crop of peanuts will mean for lunch boxes in schools across the country.  These are really good ways to get your children thinking about the bigger picture and the inter-related nature of things in the world around them.  The next step is to actually enlist their help.

What are some appropriate ways to get children involved in preparing?

As I mentioned in a previous piece about what to tell your children about preparedness, it would be good if they saw benefits to the changes you intend to make.  That full pantry may provide them the opportunity to decide what to have for dinner and even make it themselves on the spur of the moment.  Enjoy that brownie mix you got for next to nothing with a coupon and make a dessert for supper.  The next time someone comes down with a chest cold during the night, they will be glad they didn’t have to wait until morning for relief because you already have some Mucinex on-hand.

Growing plants and raising animals are fun for children too.  Even the smallest ones like to poke bean seeds into the ground and watch green shoots pop up a few days later.  Our older ones love to enter their produce in the county fair in the fall.  They’ve collected some ribbons, checks, and a year’s worth of bragging rights for purple tomatoes and pie pumpkins among other things.

Developing Responsibilities and Problem-Solving Skills

talking with your kids about prepping

We have been prepping for long enough now that even our oldest children don’t really remember “before.”  For seven years now, we have been actively pursuing a lifestyle of increasing self-sufficiency. Once we moved to our farm, we began adding projects to meet our goals.  The farm came with a small flock of chickens that the previous owners left behind.  That spring we allowed our hens to set eggs and raise chicks.  The following year, we began raising day-old chicks for meat and so on.

Many of these projects are perfect for children to get them introduced to the idea of planning ahead and anticipating needs.  Experiences like these are really good for other reasons too.  The children have to become more responsible.  As we have reminded our children at times, those animals are completely dependent on you for their survival-  if you don’t give them food and water, they won’t have any.   If a predator gets one of your animals, you have to figure out how to keep it from happening again.  Caring for farm animals also allows them to truly understand the life cycle that some movie-makers would rather obscure.

There are lots of smaller things they can do also.  One of the most popular jobs in our house is writing the dates in permanent marker prominently on everything we purchase so that we can easily rotate it at a glance without squinting at tiny “sell by” dates in the semi-dark of a cabinet.  Children can also be in charge of moving older items forward to load new items on the backs of the shelves.  You can give them the occasional task of inventorying what you have, too.  Some things, like wild rice or polenta, may get used infrequently enough that no one thinks to put it on the list when it gets low.

Encourage Hobbies with Prepping Potential

Cultivate their interests, especially if they have a preparedness link.  One daughter has expressed an interest in knitting.  This would be a great skill to have, so we want to encourage it.  One son has really wanted to tan a deerskin to use for making belts or chaps or whatever.  We still haven’t followed through, but we have taken the step to find out how to do it by internet research and purchasing books.  Leatherworking would be a fantastic profession in a post-collapse world.  Personally, I think a set of fur-lined mittens sounds wonderful.  We’ve got the rabbits- that’s the first step.

Fishing, archery, marksmanship, baking, sewing, and so on would be great talents to encourage.  One of the older children and I are registered to take a cheese-making class at a local dairy farm this spring.  I am very excited about that.  Once you start finding out what avenues are available through 4-H or the parks or the county ag office, you may be surprised what they take an interest in.

What preparedness tasks do your children do?  What hobbies are you encouraging?  Please share below in the comments section.

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