Giving Up the Must-Haves: What You Need to Know

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When you think of the term natural disaster, you might think of crumbling buildings, raging flood waters, or even damaging tornadoes. What you might not think about is the fact that any type of natural disaster is going to impact your ability to get the things that you want. Whether you love your morning cup of Starbucks, you have a secret sweet spot for Bunch-a-Crunch, or you can't go more than a few hours without checking Facebook, you're going to be frustrated when you find yourself in the middle of a disaster without access to your favorite things.

I've seen my share of disasters. As a military wife, my family moved around on a regular basis. The result? I've lived through two earthquakes, two hurricanes, a tornado, a flood, a blizzard, and numerous multi-day power outages. For the hardcore survivalist, this probably sounds like a walk in the park. For the unprepared mom of two little kids, this sounds like a nightmare.

The truth is that no matter how prepared you are, any kind of natural disaster is going to bring with it problems and scenarios that you didn't prepare for. What do you do when you lose power for four days and your asthmatic son needs round-the-clock breathing treatments? How do you handle a child's special diet when you're snowed in and can't get to the store for fresh food? What do you do when a hurricane hits unexpectedly right before grocery day, leaving you without power and without the foods that your family likes? How do you handle this?

During any kind of economic crisis or global catastrophe, you're going to learn to evolve. You're going to learn to go without. You're going to learn to beat the cravings and to become resourceful. That doesn't make it any easier, though, especially emotionally. For many people, especially moms, the biggest challenge isn't how you're going to feed your kid, but how you're going to emotionally handle eating the same cup of beans every meal of every day until the power comes back on.

As a preparing survivalist, there are a few things you can do to learn to handle the loss of your favorite things (and your child's favorite things) when you're faced with a situation where you can't access the things that you want to.

First off, accept it. Sounds like tough love, and it is, but you're going to have to accept that things aren't always going to be easy or convenient. We once lost power for a week after hurricane Sandy hit. Not only did this mean that we were unable to go to the grocery store (most cash registers run off power, after all), but it meant that when the power did come back on, grocery store shelves were all but empty for weeks. There wasn't a way to get things like specific brand-name items or favorite treats. We couldn't get them, so we improvised. You'll learn to, too.

Next, make sure that you have the items you absolutely need on hand. If there's a certain brand of tampon that you use, make sure you have extra boxes at your house. If your kid can't eat gluten, make sure you have an extra supply of his favorite gluten-free foods that don't require cooking. If your dog is on a special diet, keep extra dog food in your garage. Planning ahead is going to save you time, energy, and stress when you're faced with a situation where you can't get your favorite items.

Finally, realize that in a disaster situation, your priorities are going to change. If you don't have power for a week, you aren't going to be worried about what the rest of the world is doing on Facebook. You're going to be worried about how you're going to handle another hour in the extreme heat without air conditioning. If your house is in the center of a hurricane, you're going to be focused on making sure your roof doesn't leak or that your car doesn't float away. In the middle of an emergency situation, the things that you thought were important very often turn out not to be.

Have you ever been in a natural disaster? How did your family respond?

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