Lisa Bedford is an average Arizona mom who became an expert survivalist in the years since the financial crash of 2008, documenting strategies for every conceivable emergency on her popular blog, thesurvivalmom.com. Bedford and HarperOne will release an “impressively comprehensive” book sourced from that blog and elsewhere, called The Survival Mom: How to Prepare Your Family for Everyday Disasters and Worst-Case Scenarios.
Tell us how you went form a mom to a survival mom to The Survival Mom.
I say that every mom has a little bit of a survival mom in her. Every mom cares about the safety of their kids, nurturing their family, providing for their family, and this just takes that a little bit further. I'm a little bit of a newsaholic, and [in 2008] I started to notice things—disasters like earthquakes and floods—that made me think this time things are a little bit different, and maybe this recession is different. I saw friends who did all the right things, but who still lost everything. So I started researching: what can I do, how can I be proactive? It turns out that you have more control over your family's future than you think. I never grew up on a homestead or anything, my family was city to the bone. Storing food was something i thought only Mormons did. Some of what I learned was scary, but what struck me most is how much of the information out there is geared toward men. There’s lots of talk about guns and ammo, which is interesting—I gleaned a lot—but ultimately moms want to know, what do I say when kids ask if it’s going to be alright? I really wanted to be able to say to my kids that, whatever the emergency is, they are going to be ok, and be able to mean it.
And there were no voices out there talking to moms. Moms take these kind of things to heart—lots of moms have lost sleep worrying not just about end of the world, but what if I lose my job? What if my husband loses his job? I didn't want my information to be light or sugar-coated, but I did want it to be very comfortable; when they came to the blog I wanted them to feel I was a friend. The book has that same kind of tone.
Is there such a thing as too much preparation?
When it causes someone to lose their sense of balance, then yes. If it becomes just another new obsession, that isn’t good. That really is the trick for moms—even though I’m called The Survival Mom, I still have to figure out what’s for dinner tonight (and by the way, I have no idea), still have to plan the birthday parties, still have to wash the dishes—nothing has really changed in that area. To maintain that balance, you have to think about security in the future and security now. If it takes you so far away from the here and now, yes you can over-prepare. Or if it’s affecting your financial well-being—I hear about people using a credit card to buy a year’s worth of food, and that doesn’t make any sense at all.
How do your kids react to all this preparation? Anyone threaten to run off and chase tornados?
No, we started this when my daughter was around eight and a half, and my son was six or so, and over the past four years it’s become, “Eh, that’s just something mom does.” Storing food is nice, though, because we can pick out any recipe and we can make it—it really is nice to know that it’s all there. But they know that mom can fix it, it makes them feel more secure rather than less because they know these little things are taken care of. And of course I’m teaching those same survival skills to them.
I was in a very minor fender-bender the other day that nevertheless sent me directly into panic mode. What should I have done to keep calm in that kind of “emergency” situation?
This is something I’ve had to use a couple times myself in the last few weeks, it’s called 16-Second Survival Breathing. There are scientific explanations for why it works, but what it is very simply is focusing on your breathing. It sounds too easy, but it works. Take four seconds to breath in slowly, hold that breath for four seconds, slowly let it out for four seconds, and then take a pause for four seconds. By counting, you activate the portion of your brain that controls logic and reason, and helps your brain get of that freeze, flee or fight mode. At the same time, that slow breathing has a calming effect on your system. Immediately [when a crisis hits] your muscles tighten, your breathing sharpens, blood starts rushing to your core and makes your hands and feet icy. Once you get this breathing going, you start feeling a lot better.