In the world today, things can turn upside down in minutes. One moment we can be going through a normal and then the next moment our worlds can change forever. This can be caused by a an accident, sickness or other catastrophic event in our lives. The recent events in Japan with the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear power plant problems show how this can happen on a large scale as well. And it is certain to happen on an even larger scale worldwide in the future.
Quite often, many will do things here and there to prepare themselves for uncertain future events so that they can survive and protect their families. These can be survival skills, self reliance or just basic skills. But what about your spouses and your children? Are they learning the necessary skills to help them survive if something was to happen to you or you weren't around to help them? Learn these skills TOGETHER.
First off, let me start by saying that I personally don't believe in scaring your children and relating all possible terrible things that could happen. But I do believe it can be done in a manner that is fun and exciting for them.
For instance, I wouldn't tell them that there is a possibility of a collapse of society and gangs could move from neighborhood to neighborhood, raping the women and children and murdering everyone and that people might be forced to evacuate and head out of town and possibly live out of a tent in the mountains. Is this a possibility? Yes, where I live it is. In fact, there are evil groups who are waiting for the opportunity to do just that. However, I could teach them about simple emergency preparedness evacuation skills for whatever might happen (and tell them you don't know why or if you'd ever need to, but it's a good idea to have a plan just in case).
Go camping with them so the idea of living in a tent might be exciting. Teach them to start camp fires, cook over them, prepare food, etc. Much of this can be done in the backyard. Make the skills fun to learn so that it's not fear that is driving them, but fun. If money and time is an issue, set up a tent in the backyard and go camping with them there. Maybe roast hot dogs or marshmallows over the grill with metal clothes hangers or sticks if a small fire isn't an option. At least it's a start.
Gardening is a skill that is too often overlooked. Is it a short term solution? No. It's a long-term solution. And it's a skill that is learned by trial and error. And these trials and errors are learned over seasons, not days. My children have loved gardening with us as we learn what works and what doesn't. They see what's coming up and what failed... and we discuss what we need to do differently. We're learning together. And they understand that old seeds don't do well like new seeds.
We raise some chickens together. They're involved in the process. They know what the different types of chickens are, which are great egg layers, which make good mothers for hatching eggs, etc. They're responsible for collecting the eggs and know how to clean them and store them.
We compost together. They help with the compost barrels and understand what can be composted and what can't. They know the process, time involved and look forward to down the road when it is mulch and can be added to the garden. They look forward to adding vegetable scraps to the compost every day.
We raise rabbits together for meat. They know how much to feed them, how old they have to be to have babies, how many babies they have, when they are old enough to butcher, etc. They love them and understand why we have them and their purpose, even if it is hard sometimes. They help build the cages and wood covers that protect them. They understand that rabbit droppings are some of the best fertilizer in the world and know our garden will thrive because of it.
We practice starting fires with flint and steel and also with ferro rods. We use these processes as object lessons in teaching about important family principles like faith... in all the components necessary to get that small spark in the char to grow and catch the nest on fire, then the kindling and finally larger sticks... carefully doing the necessary steps and nurturing it to build that small spark into a strong flame. And when we go camping, my kids love to look for flint (or other hard rocks) that will cause a spark when hit with a metal striker. They'll bring rocks all throughout the campout asking me to hit them and see if they'll work. It's fun and useful. They can now find good rocks better than I can.
We learn about staying warm in the cold when no heaters are available. How to bundle correctly in a wool blanket. What things are important to have to stay warm if wet. How to be comfortable. We then prepare their sleeping bags so that whether we are camping in the summer or dead of winter, their sleeping bags are prepared for both situations in their stuff sack. During the summer, they just end up with more padding under them with the extra wool and fleece blankets that they'd be using in the winter.
We learn how to grind wheat with a hand grinder (and electric grinder) and the process of making bread and using a sun oven (as well as home oven). And we cook in a dutch oven and they see how that works. We use charcoal, propane and even wood.
We sprout alfalfa sprouts and mung beans. They like to see the daily progress of the growth and love to eat mouthfuls of the sprouts. It's a very simple thing to sprout, yet very uncommon in today's society. And when the spouts don't do well, they understand why. They beg for sprouts.
We're learning how to bottle and store food. They are excited to make their own pickles, one of their favorite treats. We'll be bottling more and more things, a little at a time.
We learn about food storage. What different ways to store food, how to package it, where to put it, why it's important, etc. They are involved in the process. They get excited about it.
When we go hiking on trails in the desert and mountains, they pack their own food and water. They learn to appreciate the outdoors and carrying their own stuff on their backs. Maybe find some common plants that you can use for medicine, food, etc. You don't need to be a scholar at first, just find one or two plants. Eventually learn another plant or two. They'll probably remember better than you will sometimes.
We also teach them about money, budgets, doing without, being creative with what we have and making due. They understand we can't get new things all the time and sometimes have to get creative and make things ourselves instead of buying them. And even if we can afford them, we see if we can do it ourselves. It's more fun, less expensive and we're learning new skills.
The list could go on and on. There are countless things that we don't know how to do, but we are learning new things a little at a time. And the kids don't see this process as anything other than doing fun things as a family. They don't see this as a task, but fun things that allow us to spend time together and learn about cool stuff. It's fulfilling to them and gets them thinking about things. They are faced with tasks and problems and are required to find solutions and better understand the way things work.
So start learning things together. Instead of playing video games or sitting in front of the tv, get out and do something. Who knows, one day it could mean all the difference in the world!
Enjoy the journey!