I’ve seen a lot of great ideas for ways to get your kids involved in prepping—and those ideas are all valid. But let’s face it. A camping trip or electricity-free weekend is WORK! And while I get a lot out of those drills, prepping can be overwhelming when I feel like the Lone Ranger. So here are some practical ways my own little ones (ages 5 and 7) can help for real.
1.) Sorting, counting, and rolling coins—There are so many educational benefits to doing this! Plus, it, saves me from blindness and that “dirty-coin” smell, AND gives me a hedge against dollar devaluation. It also helps that I can pay them in brownies.
2.) Family hiding and seeking—If a child can fit inconspicuously into that six-inch space behind the sofa, so can several towers of Sam’s canned chicken. It’s AMAZING how much unused space they’ve helped us find!
3.) Closet clean-out—Even my five-year-old knows I never wear that ridiculous Halloween sweater. My plan for this fall: pop some popcorn, set up a blanket on the bedroom floor, and see whether I get thumbs-up or thumbs-down on those items I’ve been saving “just in case”. They are brutally honest. I need that more than you know.
4.) Recipe feedback—Yes, I’m practicing meals with storage-only ingredients. They’re brutally honest about that, too.
5.) Getting in shape—An evening walk or bike ride is much more fun with skipping, giggling company. And backing out is impossible when I’ve promised to do it after dinner. Not too sure what we’ll do when the weather turns cold.
6.) The good kind of dating—My daughter helps look for expiration dates and writes them in sharpie before items go into the storage room. She looks through the random containers we’ve filled with water and dated for six-month replacement. (Side note: this may seem like slave labor, but she actually ENJOYS this stuff. She’s been making lists and organizing the grocery cart since age four. Granted, I get categories like “thinks that go on the bottom shelf” and “things that stink,” but hey. I’ll take what I can get.) For this less-than-exciting chore, I pay in hugs and lip gloss.
7.) Food preservation—Even little ones can wash, dry, and arrange food in the dehydrator with minimal supervision. I control the settings, and they can hardly wait to sample their wares.
8.) Canning—These guys can skin tomatoes and peaches at warp speed. And if they do it in their swimsuits, I can just hose them down afterward. I’ve also invested in a second, “slap-chopper” for salsa making because taking turns wasn’t working out so well. We zing through green peppers (and Excedrin) in record time. I only wish putting the kitchen back together was as easy.
9.) I-spy, prepper style—I can zip through a lot more garage sales, thrift stores, and auctions when I have extra sets of eyes on the lookout for items on the “Keep your eyes peeled” list (thanks for the idea, Lisa!). She looks for cast iron cookware; he looks for winter clothes and boots while Dad and I browse for the bigger-ticket items. Plus, they don’t get bored when they have a big responsibility.
10.) Keeping perspective—Spending time together—on these and more mainstream activities—keeps me grounded. My kiddos remind me why survival is worth the time, energy, and expense we’ve put into prepping for the future—no matter what that future holds.
Submitted by Kris.