OK, so SHHTF (S#!t Has Hit the Fan). You are hunkered down with your preps about you. There are no ‘zombies’ knocking down your door. The first few days will be nerve-racking to be sure. You will be busy securing what you can, monitoring the situation and generally getting into a survival routine to match what’s going on.
Generally you will be too busy and with your adrenaline pumping and all the work to do, it won’t seem that there are enough hours in the day to get everything done, but what happens when the initial action is over and now you are just biding your time, waiting for things to get back to something like normal? What if it’s an extended period? How do you keep morale up, stave off depression and keep hope alive?
First hopefully you are prepared for whatever the event may be. Being prepared and being able to provide even the just basics will go far in reducing worry and panic. Full bellies (even if it isn’t exactly what you wanted), sated thirst and a warm dry place to sleep at least give you something to build on.
Here are some things which will help keep up morale of you group.
1. Don’t hide the truth – be candid about the situation even if it is a bad one. Even kids are smart enough after a while to know just what is going on. Hiding it won’t help and might even hurt if you fail to make them aware of what is going on, what to expect and what not to do. No, you do not have to go into gory details, but they have to understand what has happened so they can deal with what they have to do now.
2. Keep busy – that might be very easy at first especially if you are talking about some natural event like earthquake or hurricane. Just making needed patchwork repairs and clean-up along with all the added chores needed to just get by will keep you busy for some time, but after a while even those chores may run out. There’s a reason why the military has always had make work / busy work it keeps people out of trouble. Remember your Grandmother saying ‘idle hands are the devils workshop’? So listen to her and don’t let hands stay idle for long.
3. Make up a schedule and keep with it. Day after day of doing nothing will wear you out physically, mentally and emotionally. Even if you are hunkered down, you can’t just lie around eating and sleeping; you have to keep busy at things. A schedule will bring order to what is a chaotic situation. Giving purpose to the day allows you to share work better and makes everyone aware of just what is expected of them in support of the group.
4. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy and this is just as true for adults as it is for children. Make sure there is playtime for everyone. In you preps have some card and board games, then use them to have a game night or game time. Hard copy books are another thing that should be in your preps. Family favorites and classics for all and so. Some of my most cherished memories are reading ‘The Hobbit’ and ‘The Lord of the Rings’ to my children at night. Good Stories always manage to transport us to other places for a bit and reading about others overcoming adversity often manages to make our own troubles seem manageable. Plan for a Family movie night – yes the power is out, but a portable DVD player can make it possible to gather around close and watch a family favorite. Don’t forget the popcorn (which should be part of you preps.)
5. Music ‘hath charms to sooth the savage beast’, music is always welcome and a MP3 player and a small speaker set runs on minimal power and a good MP3 player can hold thousands and thousands of songs. If you watched the movie ‘The Book of Eli’ you will know what I mean.
6. Food especially comfort food will be welcome. Store away some hard candy in your preps for an occasional sweet treat. A desert always goes a long way in brightening what might otherwise be another bland dull monotonous meal. So learn some easy and quick desert recipes that can be made from your food storage.
7. Keeping clean. Rare in the history of men have the human race been so conscious of their personal hygiene. If water is obtainable make some available for personal use. A bath (even a spit bath) will go a long way in raising a person’s morale. Consider adding a solar camp shower to your preps. There are a number of various models available and hot shower often washes away far more than just dirt. Toiletries are often mentioned in blogs and journals of people who have lived through SHTF. So add them to you preps soap, deodorant and toothpaste go a long way in making things tolerable and they have a history of being good barter items.
8. Learning materials. For kids, flash cards, small math, spelling and educational work books. Books that teach skills and materials to go with them like sewing, knitting and woodworking supplies. In an extend SHTF home schooling can be beneficial to both ‘teachers’ and students.
9. Learn to change and adapt. People handle change differently, some find it easier than others, but if it’s a major SHTF situation that you are dealing with you have to except that things just aren’t going to go straight back to the way they were and that they may never. The sooner you accept the situation the less you will fret over it. It may not be easy, but it will be essential that you quickly learn to deal with a ‘New Normal’ what ever that might be. Also you need to be prepared for ups and downs during the ‘recovery’ and stay on your guard and be prepared to revert to full survival mode at anytime. Keep prepping nothing will get you down quicker than a missed opportunity to replenish or acquire additional preps because things seem fine and then the roll coaster ride that life often is after SHTF goes on a fast downhill run. One other adaptation that many Americans will have to deal with is that of multi-generational and even possibly multi-family households. This is something that was the normal, but hasn’t been for years. Unlike the traditions of much of the world Americans tend to move out of their parents homes and establish their own. During SHFT the more people the more the chance that you survive. There was a reason families were big in the 19th century keeping alive was a lot of work and the more hands there were the more work that could be shared and done. A small family unit will struggle during most SHTF events and will simple NOT survive extended of major ones. There is a reason the family unit was prized for thousands of years and though everyone has stories of family strife in the end ‘Boold’ really is thicker than water.
10. Last but most importantly remember the Sabbath. Keeping faith in the Lord will do more than all the previously mentioned. You say, but I am no preacher what do I know about leading a service. The bible instructs us that men are to be the spiritual heads of their household, we lead by example. No one expects you to be Billy Graham, but every man should be able to handle a bible reading and the singing of a few simple hymns. Pick the old ones the ones that most know by heart, maybe even have a few CDs or MP3 recordings of both hymns as well as sermons. My church has a whole library of our pastor’s sermons available for free download. Download or get from your Church children’s Sunday school papers/handouts and use them. They are simple and easily taught and learned by all. I suggest you use especial those in which people of faith live through adversity, like the Exodus, the Stories of David, Joseph and Job , Daniel and the Lions Den or the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. Teach that believers have often been tested by trying test, but that those who keep the faith have endured.
That’s my list and thought I am sure that many will have something to add or expound on one of those that I have listed. So please feel free to add or expand on all I have listed. One of the most important things we must remember during SHTF is not to live through it, but to live during it as well.