Clothing for the Apocalypse: Wardrobe Considerations for Families with Young Children, by Jeff B.

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“I’ve outgrown another dress. That’s the third. I’m having to wear Margot’s clothes after all…”
The diary of Anne Frank, by By Frances Goodrich, Albert Hackett, Anne Frank, p. 86.

When Anne first heard they had to leave for the Secret Annex, she started to pack. First her diary went in, then her curlers, handkerchiefs, schoolbooks, comb, and a few letters. Miep Gies came and took away some shoes, dresses, coats, underclothes, and stockings. Anne wrote in her diary ” We put on heaps of clothes as if we were going to the North Pole, the sole reason being to take clothes with us. No Jew in our situation would have dreamed of going out with a suitcase full of clothing. I had on two vests, three pairs of pants, a dress on top of that, a skirt, jacket, summer shorts, two pairs of stockings, lace-up shoes, woolly cap, scarf, ·..; I was nearly stifled before we started.” (July 8, 1942). As quoted at AnneFrank.com

As a family man, I am truly blessed. As the Bible says, I have ‘a full quiver’ with four beautiful children. There have been many discussions with my wife as of late as to how we as a ‘larger than normal family’ survive and thrive if and when the world collapses. In one hand should I prepare for the coming collapse and sacrifice such valuable resources in exchange for expensive or fancy vacations, big screen televisions, and the newest super crew four wheel drive vehicles? Should I do nothing and trust in my Lord and Savior and have faith that he will see us through?

Oh sure, sounds cut and dry doesn’t it? Is it truly mutually exclusive? I mean, how much would a brand new Cummins Powered, Lifted, Super Crew 4×4 deprive my children during the coming apocalypse? Wasn’t there some scripture some where where God talked about flowers and birds and that he loved us more than them, yet he still provided for them?

Sounds like I am whining, so I will quit. As for me and my house, we chose to serve the Lord and ‘pass the bullets.’ I believe that since sin has entered the world, bad things are going to happen. It doesn’t mean that God doesn’t or won’t intervene supernaturally. There have been numerous accounts where God had literally stepped in to pull my family out of bad situations.

God provided for me and my family right after 9/11. The following March the tech bubble burst in Tulsa where we were living at the time. The day my wife was giving birth to our first child, I was called in and laid off along with a large number of others. I did whatever I could to keep us afloat. I started my own web hosting and design business as well as a for sale by owner business. That worked for a time, until I drove up one weekend to attend a job fair in Indiana where my wife and I are from. Needless to say I got the job and was expected to start in two weeks. Rushing home, I had to literally pack everything, sell two homes, and move my wife and newborn back to our hometown. This was no easy task. However, with God’s help we did!

There are other situations where I felt the world and sin. Times like when I took in a family member and their children only to be stolen from, lied to, and taken advantage. Times when a ‘man’s word’ was broken on account of greed. Rivalry over my father’s estate between my uncles minutes before his funeral was to begin. I have been threatened and attacked. I have lost a child to miscarriage. I almost faced the razor edge sword of divorce.

Why do bad things happen to good people? As Ray Comfort would say…”because there are no good people.” Simply stating that since sin has entered the world, we are a fallen people in need of a Savior which God provided with Jesus. As with the economic collapse, that isn’t God’s doing but man and his own Sin.  I am sure there will be people say, ‘Why did God allow this to happen?” However, it wasn’t God who orchestrated this collapse, it was Man. Man who long ago decided to chip away and remove himself from God so that he could be his own god.
That my friends, is why it is important for you and I to ‘Praise God and pass the bullets.’ I don’t know when Christ’s return will be. However, until he returns, I will patiently follow him. I will provide for and protect my family. Like a favorite scripture of mine:

14For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. 15And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey. 16Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents. 17And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two. 18But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord’s money.
19After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them. 20And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more. 21His lord said unto him, Well done,thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
22He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them. 23His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
24Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: 25And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine.
26His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: 27Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury.28Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents.
29For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.30And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

So, you can bury your talents and do nothing to prepare for the eventual economic crisis or use the wisdom provided by web sites such as SurvivalBlog to help multiply your talents and be ready when something truly catastrophic happens. That said, I guess you know where I stand, so let’s get to it shall we? Just how do we keep all these “youngin’s” in clothes? Here are some way to go about it.

Children grow. I feel that we are always shopping for new shoes, pants, shirts, and underwear. My kids play hard and their clothes show it. Shoes rarely last six months before either the shoes have holes in them, or the child has simply outgrown them. At times we are lucky enough to pass on clothing from one child to another due to three of my children are daughters. This often depends on how popular that particular piece of clothing was for the child. The more popular, the more worn and less likely it would be passed on. On a personal note, I have found that boys in general are more likely have a few favored clothes due to comfort and purpose than a closet full of ‘fashion fabulous.’ My youngest just turned three and I cannot go a day without witnessing her changing clothes two to three times to meet her mood or general play theme. If she is a princess, Lord help us because there are so many different Disney princesses to choose from. 

As a father, this is a real concern. How do I provide clothing for my children for their immediate need and for their foreseeable future when and if the world collapses? I could just let the wife and girls go reckless with the credit card and become fashion divas or put some law and order and clear thinking when it comes to buying clothes for children. Let’s hope common sense ‘reigns supreme’ and you really want to prepare your children for the coming apocalypse. So let’s dig in shall we?

So you can hit the ground running by visiting  your doctor to get a copy of the growth and weight charts. Our doctor uses them to measure our children’s growth as it applies to ‘national averages’ and to ensure that your child is progressing in a healthy manner. After looking at that chart, you should have some historical numbers showing their average growth and weight and what to expect those numbers to be if you followed the natural progression using the guidelines on the chart. This won’t give you sizes but it is a gauge to use in order to determine sizes at a particular age. For example, if your child is following a normal line and is a size five today and showing a growth of ten to fifteen percent in a given six month interval, how do you exactly know what size to buy in the future? Well, I make no claims in exactness because you never know how children will exactly grow and in what proportions.

Purchase clothing sizes for two to three years in advance. Aim for clothes in shades of browns or grays, clothes with flexible or adjustable waistbands, and clothes that can work in a pinch as layered clothing for colder weather. Buy cold weather clothes in 2/5th proportions to the other clothes you purchase for each sizing consideration because the other clothes will help while being layered on top on one another. For winter clothing, choose wool over cotton because wool keeps a lot of its thermal properties even when it is wet. Just remember when you are too cold, things shut down. Better to be on the side of too warm than too cold. You can always peel off layers to cool off. It is hard to put on new clothes when you don’t have them.

Shoes should be purchased combining sandals or flip-flops, with dark colored sneakers or high-top’s and one pair of cold weather shoes with thermal protection and some waterproofing. If you have to buy shoes in sizes larger than you know they will be to ensure that you have foot protection for extended times. If the shoes are too big, they can always stuff old snippets of old worn out socks or old rags into the toes until they grow into them.

Sure Jeff, sounds good. But where do I buy all this?

The local thrift shop is a great place to shop for clothes. Knowing your children’s sizes you can buy decent previously worn clothes for pennies on the dollar to keep your children clothed for almost any season. Shoes are harder to come by in thrift shops but they are available. Other than that, you can look for sales at Wal-Mart and other box retailers when the season change and you will find last season’s shoes in bins on the cheap. Sure, your kids may be screaming or whining over having to wear SpongeBob or Hello Kitty clothes now, but when faced with the cold, and the possibility of living without clothes all together, I am sure they will be thankful that their clothes are not as trendy as they would like.

If you live in an area that doesn’t have a thrift shop handy, there are alternatives. One of the best alternatives is look for changes in the season. Just after Christmas, after Easter, after back to school, and after Halloween are some great times to look for clothing on the clearance racks. I actually found a Bone Collector Scent Lock Second Layer (pants and top) for fifty percent off at Rural King two days before Christmas. My wife shops the ads from the local paper and mailers to see when there are season end sales and clearance sales. Keeping four kids in clothes can seem like a full time job. Know your budget, shop frugally, and you can prevail.

Other opportunities for clothing are through church ministries who give clothing to the community or toward  the needy or other community agencies providing clothing. One business in town has a program called ‘Coats for Kids.’ This dry cleaner goes around and collects barrels where people donated jackets, hats, and gloves for the area kids. He cleans them all and makes the presentable so they can then be given to the area’s needy children. The fact remains, there are many ways to acquire clothing, now if we want to really go back to our roots then we have another inexpensive and crafty alternative.

But first, a story that provides a a great segue:

My mother was the youngest of twelve children. For her growing up was full of chores, digging holes for the outhouse, getting creative to make supplies last, and simply working very, very hard. Sound sad doesn’t it? Well, during a time when the budget was quite tight and family resources were rather thin, my mother had to get quite creative in how she could keep her eight year old, happy, portly, bundle of sunshine in some summer clothes. My Grandmother was visiting for a month and they put their heads together in order to solve the problem of keeping lil’ Jeffy in clothes.

‘Back in the day’ people would go to the local market and buy patterns for clothing. They would take the patterns home along with bolts of fabric came in bolts. You can buy the entire measure of the bolt or simply buy what you need by the yard. Little did I know that clothes ‘could’ be made by the hands of able body maternal figures. All I had known was clothes from department stores and underwear that Santa always stuffed my stocking with.
But this day, this day would go down in childhood as the day where my mother would put the badge of outcast on this child who already had a fragile self esteem.

I had arrived from school to see my mother and grandmother anxiously waiting for me to try on their ‘wonder works of wonder’ which assimilated itself in a Hawaiian shirt and surfer shorts. They put together this outfit by purchasing a pattern at the craft store along with some super bright Curious George yellow fabric with pineapples and surfboards printed on it. I was shoo’ed off to my roof to try on the clothes they had made for me. The clothes fit fine, a bit scratchy since they were unwashed and newly mended. I was somewhat happy to have clothes that my Mom and Grandmother made me. It felt like a big, lovely, hug given to me. That was until it turned into a blight, soul crushing, fashion crime when I decided to wear my new threads to school the next day. My mom was so proud she washed them that evening and even ironed them for my proud presentation of my mother’s superb seamstress skills to the other school kids.

The next day, I showed up to school very proud of what my Mom made me. You should see my warm, chubby, Rosy-cheeked smile. I was so happy! It wasn’t the other kids who made fun of me first. It was my third grade teacher. He laughed, almost snorting in the process. He had to excuse himself for a minute in the hallway. By then the evil menagerie’ of children in my classed descended upon me with pointed fingers and heckles. I ran out of the class, crying. What makes it worse was on my way to the bathroom I slipped in such an awkward way that I split the seem of the shorts along the back revealing hints of my tighty whiteys.

With that in your mind, I point out that many affordable clothes can be made that will not ostracize your children in the post apocalyptic collapse. Think Mennonite but solely in grays and browns. Since you will be cleaning these clothes by hand, it makes it easier to keep things in the earth tones. It also enables one to not stand out in the middle of the woods like my bright yellow shirt my mother made. The advantage of doing this over store bought is several fold. One, by making the clothes yourself, you learn a very important craft that will be necessary and ‘barter-able’ in the new economy. Secondly, since you make the clothes, you will know how to properly mend them and make adjustments and necessary. Not to mention the fact that these skills means you can take almost any old fabric and re-purpose it for clothing, blankets, and patching material.

What about babies? Good question!

Babies needs are exponentially greater at younger ages until they reach toddlers. You nearly need to triple the amount of clothes for the baby than that you would buy for the other kids. This is because babies are cute, and messy! You want to have plenty of clothes to change them when they start teething and drooling. Even the cleanliest of women will have a hard time keeping their bouncing baby from getting filthy. Babies lose temperature easy. Remember keeping their head, feet and hands covered as possible. Swaddle them when they are young and during the cold weather. Later when they grew more hair and are more active, there is less concern to keeping their head covered. Appropriate attention to hygiene and cleanliness of their clothing will go a long way in their toddler stage and upwards to adult hood.

Diapers are a huge concern. One of the happiest days in parenting is when you realize you no longer have to purchase diapers. Prepping for the collapse and planning to have disposable enough diapers to last you two years as your child ages and grows is a herculean task. While much harder to deal with and requiring more work to clean, it is easier to pack and store cloth diapers and accessories for a your child. For one, the diapers don’t change in size, you simply change how you fold them to meet the child’s new size. You can buy several diaper wrappers to keep in the wetness in the diapers. Buying one hundred cloth diapers and accessories (pins, wrappers, rash medication) will be much easier to plan for than trying to store a warehouse of diapers.

Anything else?

Well yes, matter of factly! Changing socks and underwear is very important. Socks are very important for the care of your feet. If you have sweaty feet, deodorant applied to the feet can help. Other than that, be sure to change your socks often. This will fight not only odor but other foot ailments. This also applies to underwear. Your mother always told you to have a pair of clean underwear in the car, well I am telling you to change your underwear often especially if you sweat a lot. Moisture that doesn’t get wicked away from your groin and behind can leave you irritable, chaffed, and experience things such as ‘jungle rot.’ Nothing more pleasant than having to clean away the dead skin that has accumulated in your nether regions.

Belts and hats should also be part of your preparation. Of all the belts I have, I only plan on bringing the web belts that I have purchased from our local army surplus store. For one they function just as they are supposed to and hold my pants up. Secondly, they are easily adjustable if I either lose weight or carrying two base layers under my current clothing during the cold. They also are easy to clip on attachments like clipped ammo pouches, pocket knives, and holsters. In a pinch I have used them to tie up game to sling across my back on the way back from checking traps during the winter. As for hats, you need a couple. You need one cold gear hat that will keep your head and ears warm. Be that a stocking cap, or one of those funny Elmer Fudd hats, you need something to keep the warmth in. You need a hat to keep the sun off your neck for field work. This should be something with a wide brim and breathable during warm weather. I would also suggest a ball cap or other styled hat that you can wear for normal work to keep the sweat from your eyes and your hair back.

With all this information, I still remained a little vague as it is hard to ascertain the importance of one type of garment or item for one family over another. God only knows why my wife loves those dumpy Elmer Fudd hats, but she does and will go out proudly into cold wearing it. She always said that a ‘A cold head isn’t cool.’  When you put your items up for storage, remember that you need to evaluate each year. After one year has passed, those clothes marked for year one needed to be added to their current play clothes and shoes they wear. Then you rotate the second year’s clothes into the first year’s clothes box. By inspecting them and moving them allows you to ascertain whether or not your predicted correctly or if you need to make adjustments when you go out to fill your new second year bin. Choosing clothing cannot be as mathematical as determining the caloric intake needs of the family and buying stored foods accordingly. Here there is a little fudge room. I always lean to purchase on the larger side because I can always tighten up a belt or hem the bottom of my pants. Be thrifty, and truthful for your clothing needs and you will have what you need to keep you and yours covered!

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