How To Get Your Wife and Kids to Prep
Guest Post: by Clinton Crafts
The greatest challenge I’ve faced as a prepper has been how to include my wife and four children in my preparation efforts.
My wife and 9-year-old daughter are not particularly interested and my 3-year-old–well, he’s 3. On the other hand, my 11 and 10-year old boys are a bit more interested, but have other interests, too.
I am re-posting this guest-article because it is very likely a common (and important) issue among many preppers, and worth discussion. -Ken J.
When I talk about preparation efforts, I don’t mean showing up in the middle of the night with a metal garbage can screaming, “What do you do?”, to improve your family’s reaction time. That would not only be traumatizing, but would discourage your wife from any further “prep’ talk”. Understand it’s not about you and your effort to prepare your family. It’s a team effort and without everyone’s buy-in, it will end in frustration.
First, explain to your wife why you’re interested in the subject of prep’ing and keep it as general as possible (i.e., natural disasters, economic uncertainties, and man-made accidents). Reassure her that the investment can always be there to help the family in case of a job loss. In tight financial times, the issue of money can be a powerful obstacle; so, have an idea of how much it will cost the family per month before going to your wife to discuss partnering with her in this endeavor. For example, I approached my wife and stated I would like to be able to pick up some food items every payday in the amount of $20. This has been used to pick up 10 boxes of pasta and 10 cans of tomato sauce; also, 16 one-pound bags of beans; or, 40 50-cent cans of vegetables. You would be surprised what you can build up in your food stash in a few months.
I know there’s a lot more to prep’ing, but a family of six requires quite a bit of food over a long period of time. It is a good place to start. (The building of a small, monthly prep’ savings for “go bags” and water purification is a later step.) The point is, you want your wife onboard as a partner in the effort–not as a recruit. Stress that you need her and ASK her if she would come alongside in this endeavor. Remember: “Tellin’ ain’t sellin’.”
Next, explain to the kids why you and Mom are working together to prepare the family. Avoid the scary details and focus on even more general reasons, such as “just in case we have to leave the house for a few days”. Include the children by assigning them a task based on what they might seem good at. For example, I have given one of my kids the task of “medic to take care of anyone who needs help” (i.e., first aid); the other kid, the task of “navigator to help us get to where we need to go” (i.e., reading a compass and map); the next kid, the task of “logistician and cook who helps keep an inventory of all the things we need in our ‘go bags’ as well as ensures we have the food we’ll need”; last, the 3-year-old gets to walk around with his tiny “go bag” and dig out all of the contents while we work together.
For the kids who have a task, work with them and encourage them to share their newfound skills with each other. After they become comfortable with their assignments, change who has what tasks. This doubles their skillsets and keeps it from becoming monotonous. You will be surprised at how enthusiastic kids are to learn new things they can actually apply to everyday life.
Lately, I have even included the kids in a simple series of exercises at least four nights a week. I explained that it is to ensure if we have to carry our “go bags”, we are strong enough to do so. This also helps to give them a sense of inclusion and empowerment, while building their strength. Surprisingly, the kids are more than eager to participate. Don’t treat the exercises like a boot camp, because you will turn them off to the idea of anymore prep’ talk. Remember: If the wife and kids cannot “go” when it’s time, guess who’s going to have to carry them in addition to the “go bag” when it comes time?
Prep’ing can be a challenging subject to put towards your family. Nevertheless, if you approach your wife and kids with an excitement to learn practical life-skills and to build up a cost-effective, survival stash, you will reap the rewards of seeing a talented and motivated team that not only works well together when it is needed, but in everyday life as well.
[Ken adds] Fortunately for me, Mrs.J has always been on-board with preparedness, but what are some of your suggestions or experiences with a spouse who has not been on-board with the notion of prepping? How have you handled it?
The best thing you can do for a spouse problem is to simply open the door to shtf possibilities. You may likely find that while they do not share your particular scenario belief they will discover a connection with a different one. Example: He thinks the economy will collapse and she thinks a massive solar flare will hit. Forcing them your way will just cause them to shut down and close their minds to shtf possibilities. While offering them info on the spectrum of possibilities allows them to form their own opinions on the multitude of concepts. My $0.02 …
It didn’t take long to convince my wife and my step kids to start preparing,all I had to do is remind them of what happened during and after Katrina,we live in rural Mississippi about 60 miles from the Gulf of Mexico.Actually our state recieved more damage than Louisiana but the politically correct MSM focused more on New Orleans and their problems.We were without power for over a month,had to go to pick up ice,gas was rationed,most gas stations had hired Security,a lot of people had their generators stolen,in the cities people in some neighborhoods got together and had armed patrols.Also at a lot of banks you were rationed on how much money you could withdraw.A lot of this didn’t make it on the MSM.Be prepared and ready.Keep your powder dry.
It’s always easier to convince family when you can show them actual stories from people who lived through it. It seems to hit closer to home for them making it more real. After hurricane Sandy we had slightly different problems. Since large areas were without power the few remaining gas stations still open simply ran out of gas. There were also very long lines at the few stations that still had gas. Then becasue of areas that were simply inpassable becasue of all the downed telephone poles it would take you up to 2 hours in some cases to drive to an area that was normally 15 minutes away. Stores had difficulty getting resupplied because of the inpassability of many roads. So the shelves that were wiped bare days before the storm remained bare for up to a week after the storm. So just because the storm is over doesn’t mean that the problems ended with the storm.
My wife has been through: three wars, under sustained rocket attack twice, been through a dozen poison gas alerts, experienced a 6.2 earthquake, narrowly missed being in at least, half dozen terrorist bombings and shootings,(we live in the middle east), and she still looks at me like I am a crazy idiot with my prepping. Some women are just a little hard to convince!
Update September 2014: Another war, more rockets, (we still live in the middle east), and all the countries around us have the population going crazy and killing each other and yet my wife still thinks I am a nut for prepping. This is not an uphill battle. It is more like trying to push a 20 ton truck up mount Everest with my bare hands! Does anyone have any suggestions, besides getting a new wife?
sheesh Paul. my sympathies. she sounds like a serious dreamer. guess at this point, all I can suggest is hiding a surprise (jewellry if she is so inclined) at the bottom of every so many cases (of whatever food etc you stock up on). Tell her it is a new promo.
I think this is called normalcy bias. When things get back to normal she just feels they will stay that way always. She is forever an optimist and feels positive about people and human nature. We are total opposites. She makes me more sensitive and I teach her how to shoot firearms, use a knife, and basic jujitsu. We are an odd couple but it must work as we are together a very long time.
This was easy- had my potential spousal unit read “One Second After”. I now have 100% cooperation and assistance. Its nice to have her on board with the concept and it’s certainly a team building exercise.
We talked about the book after she was done. She has come to the realization that no one will be there to help if everything did fall apart. She decided to be proactive and refuses to be a victim because she failed to plan.
I’ve tried everything I can think of to convince my husband of the need for us to prep. It has all fallen on deaf ears. The only response I get is “If any of those things actually happen, I don’t want to live.” That’s his choice. I prep anyway. I can’t MAKE him live, but I can at least make it possible for him.
At least he makes no objections when I spend money on preps.
That may all change when I show him the plans I’ve made to redesign my garden and livestock areas to be more secure and productive. Those costs may go over what he feels is necessary.
My neighbor had that attitude…”I’d rather die!!”
And I replied, well, you will!!
my best friend said the same thing: basically, she figured if the shtf, she will drop dead automatically, like a light switch turning off. she can’t even understand what a ridiculous idea that is.
When my wife committed to being prepared…SHE COMMITTED! I didn’t have to convince her too much as she saw the realities of the bad direction of our country and together we set goals and made plans. Now she is “bullets, beans and band-aids” on steroids. I’ve had to slow her down lately because we need a new tractor and my 12 year old 4 wheeler is showing some signs of wear and tear…that we need to save for these big ticket items and pay cash, slow down on the ammo and can goods. But then she’ll call me from the gun store and let me know that she was there when they just received a shipment of 5.56 and she just bought everything that they let her! I guess it is a good problem to have.
Anyway, we sold our home in the “city” and moved full time to our retreat. Some minor issues downsizing from a 5 bedroom house to a 2 bedroom home. But we have a home designed to handle SHTF…Biggest thing is no mortgage! It has been fun as well as a learning experience. God Bless this Great Republic and keep working with your spouses…2 are better than 1.
I have tried to get my spouse on board, but she would rather watch the house wives on the idiot box. No help or support at all. In fact she has hindered efforts.
MAKE them watch ‘Contagion’ and then make them read ‘One Second After’.
If that doesn’t work, it is your responsibility to prepare for them.
I Timothy 5:8….Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever
I did have some prepps. But my wife gives them away when her sister comes home. And she comes very often.
Solo, I’m sure you are gone by now but it sounds like you need to play into the ‘give-away’, buy certain extra things that the sister would want, explaining to the wife that these are specifically for them. You could buy more expensive things for them, making them not want your plain can of peas. Or make a deal with her that you keep the peas in exchange for sending them better stuff. Or make a deal for one to one – you get one they get one. Make it clear you won’t feed them if you don’t get to save some.
Another way: get things that you would eat that they won’t; maybe better if it’s things that only you eat (my wife won’t eat hamburger helper so it’s safe.) Add seeds and plants to the grocery list – if they have to grow it, the sister is not likely to want it. Things that they have to do a bunch of work to use will be unwanted.
If you really still have problems, disguising it (not lying just not provoking) in cans of oil or something similar. False bottom barrel, 1/4 filled with canned goods?
I’m sorry, we eat our preps! Maybe that is why our grandchildren love grand mothers cooking and our children are always asking how its made. So where is the recipe? Sorry, you have to watch for your self. Its a pinch of this , and of that, a palm or so, of that amount. If people were to learn the secret of seasonings and how some foods go together, more people would prefer home cooking. Can’t blame folks when they turn up their nose, it doesn’t look pleasing to the eye, can’t smell it on the back porch, & taste like crap. Learn to cook something good from nothing, and you will want to store up and can more of the same. Its not just to look at! Nothing is more pleasing when the family enjoys good food.
My sweety was not on board with me,
Ive been doing this for a few years now, more and more,
Now she is finally starting to understand, still not exactly making lists of needs but she actually was asking about guns and ammo and lights and cooking stuff when we had a hurricaine scare a month or so ago, its a process, but patience is a virtue
My wife rolls her eyes at me, When I talk about prepping.
We live in the safest in the world (Dk), so it’s going to be hard to turn her over.
My wife was on board, then went totally overboard. She had no filter to distinguish the BS from the things to really worry about. There are a lot of people trying to profit off the fear. Because of that we came to an understanding I do the prepping, she lives in la la land. She is fine with the prepping and she know I’ll tell her when it’s time to worry. If I do something that she questions I just say “do you really want me to tell you”. She inevitably says “no”. She trusts me and supports my efforts through more normal ways; gardening, canning,storage methods, and moving to the country. She knows when I go to the grocery store I will always come back with extra. She lives in a world of quasi denial, but she knows that when I tell her to lock in load it’s time to worry for real.