In the world of preparedness, most all information is aimed for an audience that includes a network of supportive family members, a spouse in particular. All of the tasks are daunting and the future scenarios gloomy beyond belief. Enter single moms who are responsible for the welfare of her children. If her income is the only one keeping the family afloat and there are few, if any, close friends or relatives in the vicinity, she is truly on her own.
How can single moms prepare for the future?
Moms, if you’ve ever been faced with a car breakdown on the side of the road, alone, and without a cell phone, you have an idea of what it would feel like to be a single mom facing an uncertain future. At some point in that scenario, you have no choice but to seek out help from strangers or anyone willing to help. Therefore, I believe that the first step for single parents is to start creating their own survival/prepper web of supportive people. This is the most important step because it takes a lot of time to find like-minded people who are also trustworthy and with whom you are compatible. In the preparedness world people are often suspicious of others, which adds to the amount of time you’ll need to create that web. Single moms can start by:
- Checking out Meet-Up groups on topics related to preparedness and survival, such as camping, gardening, hiking, backyard chickens, organic produce, couponing. Some towns have groups labeled, “Survival” or “Preppers”, so it’s worth a search. Single moms, in particular, need to use a lot of common sense and caution when meeting with strangers, but these groups usually offer a safe way to get to know others who share your interests.
- Finding a supportive church. Maybe church hasn’t really been your thing, but if you’re looking for a large group of people who already have a lot in common, this can be a great avenue. Often their activities include childcare as well as single parent social groups, which immediately connects you with others. And, don’t discount the importance of having a strong faith when faced with challenges that include the everyday frustrations of motherhood as well as potential worst case scenarios.
- Checking out the state forums at American Preppers Network. Some states have very active groups, others not so much, but it’s one resource that will have local people who can steer you in the right direction for joining prepper groups.
- Joining hobby clubs, such as ham radio or gardening clubs. The members of these clubs are already a little on the fanatical side and will welcome newcomers. (I base this claim on the number of ham radio operators I have met and who are active in their clubs. The dog club people were worse, maybe!)
Once your “preps” are pretty well established, consider joining A.N.T.S., a prepper network of folks ready to help others in the network in times of dire need. You need to be able to provide that help, if called upon, but then, someone will be there to come to your aid if necessary. As you connect with other people, there’s no need to tell them whether or not you have food storage or firearms or any other personal information. If someone starts asking too many questions, then that person or group isn’t the one for you. I’ve found that preppers respect the privacy of others and expect the same in return. Above all, trust your instincts. If a person, group, or situation seems to be not-quite-right, walk away. There are thousands of solid, trustworthy preppers out there who would open their arms to a single mom and her kids. You just have to find each other.
Training and knowledge on the cheap
Thanks to the Internet, and YouTube in particular, there is no shortage when it comes to information and training of skills in the survival and preparedness niche. You could easily become Super Prepper, simply by learning from YouTube videos and then practicing what you learn. Just a few skills to look for:
- Fire starting
- Growing ______. (Name your fruit or vegetable.)
- Packing dry food in buckets.
- Sealing mylar bags
- Storing water correctly
- Purifying water
- And on and on and on
I highly recommend that you spend some time in the Skill of the Month area on this blog. Every skill is suitable for the entire family to learn and at some point, single mom, you’re going to need your kids to assist in order for the family to pull through during tough times. If you’ve given them the gifts of skills and knowledge, that will be a blessing to all of you.
Besides YouTube videos and resources here on The Survival Mom blog, it’s almost as easy to find free or very cheap training locally:
- Sign up for classes that relate to preparedness. Community colleges are one of the best resources for this and you might qualify for reduced tuition. Be sure to talk with the admissions office, since they will know about scholarships and discounts. Do NOT take out a loan for this, since so much information and training can be had for free, but if these classes are in your budget, you not only will accumulate college credits but also meet other people with the same interests.
- Community colleges also offer non-credit classes in the evenings and on weekends, and these are generally very inexpensive.
- Find out if your city offers community classes. These will probably include things like guitar and interpretive dance but might also include skills you’re looking for as a prepper.
- County and university extension classes are free or low-cost. You can usually learn about gardening, canning, food prep and other useful skills.
- Retail stores often offer free classes. Cabela’s, ProBass, REI, craft stores and other specialty retail stores want buyers to learn their skills and, therefore, purchase their products. If a store offers classes for kids, that’s even better. Involve your kids with your survival learning every chance you get.
- CERT classes. I’ve talked about my own experiences with CERT classes in my podcast. These are completely free and even furnish attendees with a basic emergency kit. Go to this site to search for classes near you.
- Red Cross offers free and inexpensive classes online as well as in-person classes, which usually have fees.
- FEMA’s Emergency Management Institute offers free online classes and these can be excellent sources of information on everything related to disasters from learning about hazardous materials to dealing with animals in a natural disaster.
- Many libraries offer classes of all kinds and almost always, they’re free.
Include the kids whenever you can
A single mom’s most immediate group of allies and support are her own children. At whatever ages they might be, start training them for everything from how to put out a small fire to calling 911 to administering CPR. Go through this list of 32 basic survival tips for kids to see what your children need to work on.
Fortunately, survival and preparedness involve knowledge and skills that are very easy to learn and lots of fun. Together, make a list of disasters that are likely to occur where you live. For example, if you live in the Midwest, you probably won’t need to teach them what to do if there is a hurricane, but knowing what to do in case of flooding may be more useful. Then come up with activities that will help your children learn what to do in that type of disaster. You can do this on a regular basis in the same way that some families do a family game night.
A great resource that helps teach kids about preparedness with games and other activities is Ready.Gov/Kids. Another fun way to teach survival skill is to go camping. Let your children practice what they’ve learned in an environment where those skills are needed instead of just a “let’s pretend” situation.
Stock up on supplies as you can
Right along with learning and connecting with others, is the need to stock up on the food and supplies you’ll need to weather any storm. The best advice I have for you is from my book, Survival Mom.
Stocking up on food, extra toiletries, good quality tools, and
other supplies requires money. However, the good news is that a master
To Buy list will help set priorities, keep you on budget, and even provide
a shopping list when hitting the garage sale circuit.
Without a To Buy list, you may very well find yourself (a) spending
money on things you later discover tucked away in a back cupboard
or (b) snatching up purchases in a panic. This list helps save money
as well as time.
If your income is limited, you’ll need to become very creative. Estate sales, yard sales, going-out-of-business sales, Craigslist, Freecycle, and even programs like Swagbucks and MyPoints will need to become your new best friends. Also, try apps that help you earn money on your normal purchases. SavingStar helps you earn cash back on certain grocery store purchases. You get new offers each month and when your account reaches $5 you can request a payout.
Walmart has a Savings Catcher app that looks for better prices on your purchases and gives you a refund of the difference on a gift card. While none of these will pay out big bucks, they can help you save money towards preps without spending more money out of your pocket.
Some creative preppers use their skills to earn extra income by teaching those skills to others. One woman runs an ad on Craigslist for small canning classes she conducts in her home. Her classes each month are always full. This is a great way to make some extra money to buy supplies and may also give you the opportunity to network (and build friendships) with like-minded people in your community. Depending on the circumstances, you could even consider bartering supplies for classes.
An awful lot of survival supplies are extremely inexpensive. You can find used water barrels for less than $20. Wash out empty 2-liter soda bottles and refill them with water for cheap and easy water storage. For more expensive supplies, establish a savings plan, even if it’s just a few dollars per week.
The important piece, though, is to know what you need and then set priorities for your purchases, and that To Buy list will keep you on track and save you from impulse buys.
Take care of yourself
It’s way too easy to get wrapped up in the day to day struggle to make ends meet along with the constant need to feel like you and your children are ready for every possible disaster that may strike. That’s why it’s essential to take time to take care of yourself as well. If you are using all of your energy to be prepared, you’ll have no energy left to handle an actual emergency situation. And if something happens to you, you don’t have a spouse to take over.
Allow yourself time to rest and schedule in occasional alone time as well. Keep yourself health by eating right and keeping yourself fit as much as possible. And above all, make time for fun. If you’re always stressing over “what if” you can’t enjoy “right now” and that will have a big impact on your children.
The prepared single Survival Mom
Single moms can be every bit as prepared as any other person in the survival/preparedness community. In fact, they have an advantage over a prepper whose spouse is not on board and might even try to prohibit any type of preparedness activities or expense.
Single parenting is no easy job, but when there are plans and supplies in place for various emergencies, there will be less panic and a lot more peace.