I am often asked by parents how they can involve their children more in prepping. It is a very valid and important question, especially when it comes to younger children. Our children are the next generation to carry on what they learn from us, so it is important that they learn the skills needed to not just get through in life, but survive if there should ever be a major disaster.
How To Involve Your Children In Prepping
Play a game of man hunt
This is like hide and seek, but it’s in the dark and the kids have a blast playing this! This will help your children learn how to hide if they ever need to and how to stay hidden. It will also put the seeker in the position of trying to find someone in the dark. *side note* Be sure to play in a safe area and never leave young children alone. Also, consider using some kind of safe word if there is an emergency and you need to stop the game.
Have them help clean out your storage closets
Reducing what is cluttering up your closets and storage rooms can be a pain in the tush. Sometimes, we agonize over what we should donate, throw away or keep. Kids tend to be brutally honest and will tell you if you really don’t need something.
Every week I sit down with my family and talk over our meal plan. I love getting their input on what they want to eat. It also helps to cut down on the pickiness that might be floating around that week. and it keeps all the kids involved in picking something that they like, everyone is included.
If they pick the meal, they get to help make it. I not only love to have little helpers in the kitchen with me, but I love watching them learn. When they finally get it and are able to start doing things on their own, it’s quite an amazing mommy moment.
Teach them to garden
Involve your kiddos in the planning, planting, caring for and harvesting of your garden. Even if you have a small space, where you must garden in containers, kids love to learn this stuff. It’s an awesome opportunity to teach them to be self-sufficient and the best part is they get to eat what they’ve nurtured.
Teach them how to preserve food
Preserving your own food is one of the healthiest things you can start doing. Including your children and teaching them to preserve and put food up for emergencies is an excellent life skill. Young children can arrange fruits and vegetables on a dehydrator tray and they can help put vegetables and fruit in freezer bags. Be sure to have them wash their hands well if you are working with meat.
Involve them when you are home-canning
I have wonderful memories of sitting on my nana’s kitchen table and watching her home-can our food for the year. It was so exciting to watch my great-uncle bring in fruits and vegetables from his farm and to be handed a fresh tomato to munch on was the perfect treat! Now that I have my own children, I do the same thing with them. My older ones can help peel, chop and cook. They can also help ladle everything into the jars. My little people love to sit on the counter or table and watch us do those things and they are super helpful when it comes to mushing, mashing, removing stems and taste testing!
Take them to the yard sale with you
Give everyone a list of items you’d like them to be in control of and turn it into a game. You can play I-Spy or turn it into a scavenger hunt and whoever gets the most items on their list gets a prize!
Let them play with their walkie-talkies
I have a family member who will buy things for their kiddos and then tell them it’s for an emergency you can’t play with it. This frustrates the daylights out of me. If kiddos don’t get to practice and learn how to use a particular item that is for an emergency, then when that emergency arises, they may find themselves in trouble. Buy a cheaper pair if you’d like and use those for play.
Sign them up for Scouts
Scouts teach boys and girls alike the skills they would need to survive in the wild and in everyday life. It is also a great chance for your kiddos and you to be able to surround yourself with like-minded people.
Have them pick out their “To Go Bag” and “EDC Bag”
Give your little people the chance to pick out a bag they like. Let them try it on so they will know what it will feel like. Give them just a few options to choose from and go from there.
Let them pack their bags
They picked it out, but their responsibility doesn’t end there. Let them pack their bag with your assistance of course! You can use this time to teach them what would go in each bag and why it is important that they have these items with them. It’ll also be a chance to teach them how to properly pack their bags!
Sign them up for first-aid and CPR classes
A child who knows how to perform basic first aid and how to perform CPR could be the difference between themselves or someone they are with, staying alive until a grown up can provide further assistance. As they get older, and more mature, they can learn more advanced skills.
Let them wash their hands, bodies, hair, faces and brush their teeth on their own with your supervision and guidance. Teaching them the importance of staying clean and how this affects their health is essential in everyday life as well as in an emergency situation.
Get active together
Go on as many walks, hiking trips, camping adventures and biking trips as you can. Consider taking a morning walk/bike ride or an after dinner walk/bike ride together. Plan camping trips instead of shopping trips on the weekends. If you can’t fit in a camping weekend, go hiking at your National Park. While you are doing this, you can have your children point out wild edible plants that they learned about and you can even make it extra fun by tasting a few of them. Plus, you get a chance to practice survival skills that your kiddos should be learning.
Read them prepping and homesteading stories
There are books for younger children written by Kermit Jones, Jr. and Christy Brill. They are called Prepper Pete and they are pretty darn good at introducing prepping. My children also loved the Little House book series. We did an entire unit on it when I homeschooled and even to this day, the kids talk about it. Mom With A Prep has an awesome list of prepper and survival related books just for kids! You can look over her list here.
Talk about fire safety and teach it to them
Unfortunately, a lot of kids get this kind of instruction in school, but they don’t get it at home. Children don’t always know what they should do if their home should ever catch on fire and most don’t know the proper and safe way to start and put out a fire. This is something that doesn’t end with one lesson and should be continually reviewed on a monthly basis for younger children and every few months with older children.
Start a coin collection together
If there ever comes a time when cash isn’t accepted, coins will be. My aunt started a coin collection for me when I was about 3 years old and my mother did the same for each of my children. This is something that will always have value.
Have a no electric weekend
Spend an entire weekend without power! Eat by candle-light, cook on a grill or open fire (outdoors of course), heat your home with an alternative heating source (wood stove, coal stove, kerosene heater, solar generator). Entertain yourselves by playing card games, board games, charades, singing, playing an instrument, doing crafts. Make it fun, but educational and informative too. This will also help you fill in the blanks of where you need to strengthen your preps.
Let them tell you how to get home
I love to do this with the kids. I love to have them all take turns telling me where to turn. Do I turn left or right? Do I turn by the bridge or by the apple tree? Is the dirt lane on the left or right? Is our home the green house or the white house? Trust me, some have a wonderful sense of direction, others, not so much and that’s okay. Knowing our children’s weaknesses helps us know where we need to help them the most.
Have your little people help you get out of the woods
My dad used to do this with me a lot when I was a kid. He’d bundle me up in the middle of October and trudge me through the woods to his hunting spot. He’d leave little markers, like zip-ties on tree branches, a mark on a rock, a fallen branch over the path we were supposed to take. As I got older, he took those things away and made me use other resources such as the sun, trees, etc. to find my way (with him of course) out of the woods.
Do crafts together
Make your own holiday decorations, make your own pillow cases and aprons, learn how to quilt together, crochet hats and mittens. There are so many crafts you can do with your kiddos and yes, even boys.
Let them cut the coupons
Little ones can help you find what coupons you are looking for and older children who are practicing or skilled with scissors can help you cut them out. It’ll help them learn to be frugal and it’ll save you some time.
Take them shopping with you
You may have groaned right out loud when you read that, but it’s something you are going to have to do. Little people who know the labels and pictures of items can help spot what you need, older children can help can go hunt down what you are looking for with a list in hand and save you some time. You can make it fun, much like the scavenger hunt you took when you went to the yard sale. You can also teach them about how to save money, what’s cheaper and more practical to purchase and they get to use the coupons they helped you find and clip.