Being a single parent is hard. In fact, it is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life. While I no longer am a single parent, I still remember and carry with me the fear that I felt when I was. It is a deep seated fear that most people – unless they are or have been a single parent themselves – could ever understand. You fear what will happen to your kids should bad weather come through. You fear what will happen to your kids should you lose your job. You fear what would happen to your kids should the unthinkable happen and they are left alone. While you can’t plan for everything, you can take a few steps to prepare yourself and your family for most emergencies. These emergency preparation tips for single parents aren’t the end all-be all, but they should help you get a head start at the very least.
I will never forget the night that tornadoes spun all around us. It was the first serious system of storms that I had dealt with as a single parent. She and I lived in a converted 2-car garage that had no interior rooms or basement. Even our closets were on exterior walls! All that we had was a bathroom on an external wall that was situated between the rest of the house and the house next door. Needless to say, I was more than a bit freaked when the sirens near the house started blazing. My Emma still likes to giggle about the fact that I tossed our 72 hour emergency bag into the tub, laid her down in the tub, covered her with my own body then covered myself with the thickest blanket I could find. Yes, it sounds silly but it was the best I could do at the time to protect my child.
Emergency Preparation Tips for Single Parents
We were lucky that day that the tornado that had set the sirens off touched down a few miles away, but it really drove home for me just how unprepared not only I was, but how many other single parents had probably never given much more than a passing thought to preparing for an emergency. That’s a pretty scary thought when you think about it. None of us know what tomorrow brings and if you’re not a least a little bit prepared for what it brings, your family could see devastating consequences.
Learn a new skill –
The biggest way prepare for emergencies as a single parent is to learn a new skill. This can include things such as learning how to build furniture or taking an online class that you’ve been putting off or simply learning how to make things such as homemade cleaner recipes and homemade beauty recipes. Just the ability to stop buying and start making things homemade can help you in a crisis more than you may think.
Protect Your Finances –
Like it or not, financial emergencies happen more often than most people realize which means that one of your most important financial preparations as a single parent is to protect yourself from a financial crisis. You never know when you will lose your job or have a loss in income in some other way. This mean not only having an emergency fund that can handle 3-6 months of expenses, but also making sure that your checking account and savings accounts are no fee and have high interest rates so that they help your money grow. You’ll also want to do everything you can to to protect your money. This means having a bit of cash on hand in addition to your emergency fund and doing things like using a prepaid credit card to shop online with and by earning cash back when you do have to shop online. Cash back is a fantastic way to help keep more of your money.
Protecting your finances also means doing what you can to earn extra money. You can do this by taking a side job to earn extra money or by finding ways to earn money online such as these 39 ways to earn free gift cards online. Having the extra money or gift cards on hand will help if you don’t have any cash and your bank account is dry.
Build a Stockpile –
Learning how to build a stockpile and how to can foods not only saves you money, but it can also help in a time of emergency. Having 3 days of food on hand is great, but what happens if your emergency lasts longer. Financial emergencies such a job loss or a loss in income can last months. In fact, my own family went through a period like this is 2014. We had a great loss in income (more than 50% of our regular income) and as a result, there was no money to buy groceries with. Luckily, we had a substantial stockpile of our favorite freeze-dried food built up as well as home canned foods that we were able to rely on. We ate well and we were able to make it through that trying time in our lives.
If you’re a single parent, having a few weeks or months of extra food on hand is incredibly important. It will make certain you can feed your children should something happen.
Don’t forget water –
Water is life and in any emergency, clean water may become scarce quickly. This possibility means that having a bit of water stored on hand is probably the most important of these emergency preparation tips for for single parents. Ideally, you’ll want to store 1-gallon of water, per person, per day. This means that if you are storing water for 3 people to last 3 days, you would want 9-gallons at a minimum. If you have pets, you’ll want to store water for them too. You can figure that a 1-ounce per pound that your pet weighs.
In our family, we also store non-potable emergency water. This is water that is not drinkable but is okay for cleaning and other chore functions with. If a situation has happened that we’re using out emergency water, I don’t want to have to dip into my drinking water to clean.
Prepare for lights out –
Waiting until the lights are out to prepare for a power outage isn’t the best idea in the world. It’s important for everyone, but it’s especially important for a single parent to prepare for power outages before they happen. Children thrive on normal routines and a power outage does nothing but disturb their normal routines. By having power outage supplies on hand, you’ll be able to keep their routines a little better than if you were scrambling to get some light in the room.
Prepare for the unthinkable –
The single most important emergency preparation tips for single parents that I can give you is that you need to prepare for the possibility that you won’t be around to raise your children. As a single mother, this one possibility terrified me. Her biological father is not in the picture, hasn’t been in almost 10 years and honestly doesn’t live the kind of life that I want her around. In other words, her going back to him if something were to happen to me is not nor has it ever been an option. You need to take the time to create or update your will, to designate your wishes for your children should the unthinkable happen and to allocate your estate to provide for your children if possible after you’re gone. If you don’t have an attorney and/or can’t afford one, you can use a DIY Will and Trust Kit to file those papers with the courts. Most kits are good in all states except for Louisiana.