Lately I have been taking stock of my ‘stock’ (read that preps). Admittedly, I have included my children in getting prepared, but I didn’t realize just how much THEY did not understand the importance of organization, labeling and rotating. Yes, two are under 12 but one is a teenager who is into prepping. We talk about how to store things, what and why we keep extra on hand, safety, the value of being able to be less reliant on the ‘just in time system’ and a whole lot of other things. And many times we work together getting things done or they see me doing it with some help from them. Prepping with children as a single mom has brought up some interesting things, but when I started making extra room in my house to include another person, whoa! I just wanted to bug out and not deal with it…but, here I am, learning and hope that in my learning you can learn something too, especially if you are a single parent with children.

First, I realized just how much ‘crap’ is in my house that has really no value to me, but that’s another subject. Next, I realized that things had just been put behind closed doors so to speak to, just get it out of the way, and instructions were just NOT followed. And before someone has something to say about ‘kids being kids’ I am going to tell you that I am old school and believe that when an adult gives specific instructions on what/how to do something YOU DO IT. Not that I am trying to turn my kids into sheeple and not that I am not open to their ideas of how to get things done, but when you are told to pour the salt into a particular container and then label it, I expect it to be done. Put it in and label it and then put it in the spot I have set aside for it.

HAHAHA…I started cleaning/reorganizing and I found things stashed away like a squirrel stashes his nuts for the winter. Some of what I found was big bags of RICE just tucked away in a storage closet (seriously, that is NOT a joke). That was my teenager. Instead repacking the rice safely, he disappeared the containers and then stashed the rice.

Haha factor aside, I did not find this amusing at all and then I began to wonder about other things and sure enough, Mr. I Play Video Games, had not labeled salt containers or sugar containers, had just thrown can goods haphazardly into the pantry…sigh…really? And yes, I stood over him and things got done but really? At almost 16 years old I have to do that to make sure it gets done properly? Lets just say a few things ‘disappeared’ on him and I told him point blank that if he couldn’t follow simple instructions and put things away properly then how was I supposed to trust him with a crossbow or driving a car. Anyway…My 9 year old at least knows how to put green beans with green beans and to put the oldest up front. Sigh…so the past two weeks has been spent back tracking. Oh, I also found empty boxes that were never thrown away (so I assumed we had that in stock). Really? My 3 year old know how to throw things away.

There were quite a few things I found ‘out’ about, mostly just annoying things but if the little things like putting labels on buckets (so you know what it is), or putting the rice into mouse/bug proof containers or just throwing away an empty box of something can’t even be done, ohhhh…man, my mind just goes nuts over that one.

So what’s my point?

Everyone has to be on the same page at all times and understand the reasons behind why certain things get done. And just talking about it isn’t going to work with some people. Written instructions, establishing routines and expectations and then, being ‘the leader’, following up every time until you are dead sure that everyone is doing what they are supposed to be doing. And unfortunately, having worked in the real world, I have seen this same behavior from ‘adults’. Time consuming? Yes. Pain in the rear? Yes. Should you as ‘leader’ have to micro-manage. No. It would be nice to be able to delegate, but most people are used to ‘getting by’ with little to no consequences to themselves. This go around it was just proper food storage. And we can all go to the what ifs, but it got caught in time. So micro-manage I will until I am sure that we are all on the same page on how things will get done.

Ideas for the micro-management/leader that does work well for both children and adults:

Get a whiteboard…the type you can list ‘to do’ items on daily. Save your breath.

Get another whiteboard…this one won’t be daily but will list chores/responsibilities for the week. Unfortunately, even adults need this (ever worked in a restaurant?).

Have a sit down/write down meeting. In this case, with my 3 children I was able to explain WHY it was important about storing food correctly. THEN a notebook came out and the steps were written down. They took turns writing out the steps and reasons why. In my case it was about food storage, but this will work in any type of situation that you see come up or MIGHT come up, including security tasks. And YES, children can help on that end too. At this sit down ask questions instead of lecturing. You’d be surprised at how well this works.

Don’t overlook abilities. Some people are better at something than others. SWAT analysis is a good thing. Unfortunately, you may find yourself (as in my case with my children) that you have to work with what you got. My case, kids  which means I have to work with what I got, including the attitude.

Have a CLEAR system and keep it simple. Chaos is NOT good! For instance, one place I keep proteins, another certain types of canned goods, another place salt, sugar and another for rice. Its in the same place all the time (that is until someone decides to just do it their way). But I do have a system in place. This allows you to know instantly where certain things are (for instance I have ONE place for all batteries and ONE place for all types of lighting except for candles). By having a few things here and a few things there you wind up wasting time and energy ‘looking’ for things.

Speak up…don’t be afraid, as the ‘leader’ to say what you have to say when it needs to be said. I will admit it, when I found things not done correctly they, my kids, were in the middle of doing homework…guess what? They wound up redoing what they were supposed to do instead of the homework and opps! The homework got done when typically they do what they want to do. Seems to make the impression to just get it done right the first time.

Lastly, DO follow up to make sure things are being done correctly. Don’t make it obvious that you are doing so but just check. If done correctly…give praise (yep, that includes adults too), if not done or not done correctly stop right then and there and do what needs to be done. Food storage case I pulled the bags of rice out, put them on the counter top, called my son into the kitchen and stood there until I SAW him doing it. Then said thank you, walked away and then rechecked a bit later. Done right.

Anyway, that’s my rant for today (well, everyday it seems). Discipline and order and a system and being on the same page with everyone when things are ‘normal’ makes it easier when something comes up later on.

Now, back to clearing out the crap!

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