Watching all these shows sometimes makes me think about my life as a dad in terms of a survival situation. Sometimes it feels like being lost in the dessert with no way out anyway.
So I have questions. In a parenting survival situation what would be the most essential survival tools? What would be the best plan of action? What are the survival basics?
Well instead of pondering my life away I decided to put some ideas together. So here is the first revision of my Man vs Child survival guide.
- The boy scout motto is "Be prepared." This is the best advice for any situation. The problem is that no one plans to be in a survival situation. It just happens. Bear Grylls always carries his trusty knife. Usually it includes a flint for starting fire as well, although sometimes he leaves that behind for the sake of TV. So what is the essential survival tool for a parent? What tool is equally as important at the mall and at the park? My answer is Diapers and Wipes. You don't want to be caught anywhere without a way to get rid of poop. Forget food and water. Go straight for the waste disposal tools.
- Often times you find yourself in places that are less than baby friendly like a restaurant. Just as Les Stroud would scavenge his broken down dirt bike for wire, gasoline, and insulation, we parents must use what is available to us. The restaurant menu can work as a book in a really tight spot. Straws can serve as swords. Sugar packets can work as building blocks or footballs. Use people in the neighboring booth for a peek a boo game. Pull out an ink pen and let the kid draw on something if you must. Remember THIS IS SURVIVAL! Use anything you can.
- Now that we have covered poop and entertainment, lets look at food and drink. In a typical survival situation the priorities are water, food, and shelter. But for children in an unfamiliar environment clean butts and entertainment often come first. Because if they aren't happy then all hell breaks loose. And once that happens all is lost. If you have a newborn then you always have food with you. We have a toddler. We don't carry around stuff for him anymore. Sometimes you have to tide the kid over until you find the next food source (read McDonald's). Crackers are complimentary and yummy. You can find free cookie samples at the bakery. In a survival situation you just have to know where to look. If you happen to be in a grocery store I strongly advise opening a box of food for the kid. Don't feed your child fresh fruit from the store though. That's just stealing.
- Finally we come to shelter. Always be prepared for the possibility of a nap. If the kid starts falling asleep be ready to drop all your gear and make camp for the night. You can sit down on any available furniture. The mall sofas are nice. They can work as a temporary shelter while your survival partner, if you have one, continues the search for food or clothing. There is also the possibility that in a napping situation you will have to get out the emergency flares and signal for help. I've been in spots where setting the store on fire seemed like my best option. When you find yourself in that kind of predicament you need to get back to base camp where it's more cozy. On those days just be thankful you knew how to survive so you could live to play another day.
Whether you get out unscathed or not depends totally on your parenting survival skills. I suggest you have your own little survival guide tailored to your natural environment. Like I said before, being prepared is your best weapon. Because once you are at a school play with no toys, no food, and no escape plan, it's too late.