“Preparedness, when properly pursued, is a way of life, not a sudden, spectacular program. We could refer to all the components of personal and family preparedness, not in relation to holocaust or disaster, but in cultivating a life-style that is on a day-to-day basis its own reward.” –Spencer W. Kimball

September is National Emergency Preparedness Month in the United States. What a perfect time to recommit and create a culture that will bring peace now and for generations to come.

A successful self-reliance program is all about creating a mindset, making preparing something the family does without even thinking about it; a family culture. Family culture is the combination of a family’s habits, traditions, goals, values, beliefs, and choices. Your family may have a family culture of service. When any family member hears of someone in need, they automatically start thinking of ways to help. As we consider President Kimball’s counsel it should be our goal to develop a culture of self-reliance in our homes.

Why do we want to build a culture of self-reliance?

  • Natural disasters, accidents, health challenges or job loss happen to everyone. While you can’t avoid them completely, by practicing preparedness you can navigate the challenges more successfully.
  • Preparing now saves money later. During a disaster, supply chains are interrupted and supplies can greatly increase in price if you can find them. This is true of everything from food to generators, any item needed to care for your family’s needs.
  • A culture of self-reliance teaches family members to set goals and understand the difference between needs and wants.
  • It increases respect for each family member as children become part of the planning and execution. Children come to understand their opinion is of value and their role is important.
  • Prepares family members for decisions they will have to make in the future. When a person has thought through a scenario, they will act more quickly to control their situation during the time of stress. They will not only survive but thrive because they have developed resourcefulness through their steady application of what they have learned.
  • Brings comfort and creates a feeling of safety now. As children (and adults) hear about disasters in other places, they know they need not fear because their family is ready if that disaster should affect them.
  • As you continue to prepare, you will learn to use items you already have around the house, as well as those you purchase, when the need arises to rely on them you are ready and so will everyone in the family.

Lt. General Russel L. Honoré (Retired) who was the 33rd commanding general of the U.S. First Army and commander of Joint Task Force Katrina said: “Each of us has a personal responsibility to be ready. We need to prepare our families and our homes. In many cases, family and personal preparations can be fairly simple. All it takes is a shift in our thinking.”

“In this new normal, we have only two options: We can exist in a culture of fear and dependency, or we can do the responsible thing: Live comfortably in a culture of preparedness and readiness; a culture where individuals can save themselves and empower their local, regional and national governments to better respond to any disaster. It’s time for America to adopt this culture of preparedness.”

We, however, want more than just a culture of preparedness – we are striving for a culture of self-reliance. What is the difference? Preparedness: State of being ready, possession of adequate resources. Self-reliance: Reliance on one’s own resources, decisions and abilities. While the prepared person may have the goods, they will need to survive an emergency, the self-reliant individual has, in addition, the capabilities, judgment, and resourcefulness to manage their own affairs, independently.

How can we create a culture of self-reliance within our homes? A yearning for independence in temporal matters must become a constant in our homes. It must become second nature in everyday living. As with a diet, we cannot starve for a short time, lose a little weight and then assume we are done. Self-reliance needs to be a change in our lifestyle in the same way weight loss requires a change in lifestyle. It means not just a change in our habits but a change in the very way we think.

Over the next few weeks, we will examine activities and other steps to help create a family centered on self-reliance.

Step One:

As a family, begin by determining which emergencies and challenges may affect your family. Could there be a flood, house fire, burglary, hurricane, earthquake, wildfire, chemical spill, terrorist incident, tornado, civil unrest, or dust storm? At dinner address at least one of these. This should be easier now that we have experienced a pandemic. Our families understand there may be things out of our control that cause big changes. Explain the things you had during the pandemic that you were grateful you had prepared. Discuss the things you did not have or could not easily get and help your family understand you want to be even more prepared next time a challenge arrives. Too often we want to protect our children from these crisis events but that is a huge mistake. Children sense when parents are stressed, and they become more insecure if they are left wondering.

Step Two:

Teach your family about General Stores. Your discussion may go like this:

In the old General Store, you could purchase everything from an ice cream cone to garden seeds, from fabric to medicines, from nails to eggs. It was truly one stop shopping. In the quest to be self-reliant, we will work to fulfill the mission of the old General Store in our own home.

How can a General Store help our family? What if after a natural disaster, our distant relatives show up to be housed, fed, and clothed, and although store shelves have been cleaned out by desperate shoppers, we are able to invite them in and provide for their needs?

Imagine if mom lost her job just as you were ready to leave for college. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to “shop” at our own General Store to stock your dorm room with food, hygiene items, and supplies?

Decide together departments you will include in your General Store, food (drinks, snacks, included) medicines, tools, kits, paper goods, school supplies, etc. Think about a big box store and the items in each aisle as you create your own.

Step Three:

As a family, discuss an area or two where your family could save money. Decide how much you will set aside for preparing.

It’s time to decide which foods to stock in your General Store. Choose a scribe to record answers.  Remember you are creating a culture in your home and it is important for each child to have a role.  Have each person indicate what their two favorite dinners are. What are their two favorite lunches and breakfasts? What are their two favorite desserts? If you are a couple you may need to list four or five favorite meals each. If single just have fun listing favorite meals you don’t want to be without.

You are now ready to begin a shopping list for stocking your store. Did you notice there were more meals with pasta than rice? If so, you need more pasta than rice in your store. More peanut butter than tuna? Your family will store differently than mine. Remember you are the expert for your family, not someone with a list on the internet.

Involve your family in the adventure and begin changing their thinking about preparing. Ask family members to watch and search for bargains. My sister-in-law called a few years ago to let me know a local chain store was closing out their canning lids. In May? Why would you close out canning lids at the beginning of canning season? I ran down and stocked up. I could now preserve 156 bottles of food for less than $10.00 in lids.

Every family member can become a detective when they know the plan and what is needed to stock your family’s General Store. Each year we wait for binders, pencils, crayons, and notebooks to go on sale at the beginning of the school year. When they get to bargain prices, it is time to stock up for the next year. With school beginning earlier and earlier, the bargains often come a week or two after the first week of school when most people have already purchased supplies to meet the teacher’s requirements. Think gifts when you check out these items, maybe stocking stuffers.

Teach your children to watch for those yellow stickers on the aisles at the grocery and pharmacy type stores. These indicate sale prices. You can make a game of having children spy these and together decide if the sale is a good one and if the items are needed on your store shelves at home.

Of course, this mean taking the kids to the store with you. This is not always fun, but remember you are educating them in an area they will need to become expert in to prosper as adults.

This week you will: Discuss disasters that could happen in your area, teach your children about General Stores and the need for one in your own home, determine a weekly or monthly budget for preparing, teach your children to look for and shop sales.

If you are just beginning food storage, check out the Monday posts on the blog at Totallyready.com for help with weekly goals as you develop a plan. Remember it is important to store all food groups and to begin with the foods you normally eat.

Next week we will continue our quest to create a culture of self-reliance in our homes. Begin now no matter the age of your children or makeup of your family.

Being truly prepared is not just about a stockpile and knowledge but actually living it every day.

Be sure to check out Carolyn’s blog at: Totallyready.com for help with all your preparedness needs. Contact Carolyn at [email protected] to ask questions or schedule a class for your ward or group.