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You may think that all of your time post SHTF will be spent fighting off combatants or scavenging for food, but the grim reality is that if you’re in it for the long-haul, you will have some very long, very boring days and nights.
With no electrical grid, TV, radio, or Internet, you will have countless hours with little to do. There are also going to be plenty of days when you have a lot of do, but no way to do it. Burning fuel or batteries to complete your tasks at night may not be in your best interests either.
The key here is threefold: First, try to think about what you would want to do on a rainy day, or even what you might provide for your kids to do on rainy days. Second, are you going to be stationary or mobile after the SHTF? Do you have room to store games or are you going to be carrying everything on your back? And lastly, are you going to be in a place where you can safely do chores and other mundane tasks in peace and safety?
It’s important to have a variety of activities at your fingertips, and also important to think about engaging your mind on a daily basis. Whether you’re hunkering down in a shelter or on the run, using your mind for something other than the immediate needs of survival is of the utmost importance.
But trying to prevent boredom when there are no modern distractions can be tough, even for those of us who don’t participate in modern distractions. With a few tools and some ingenuity, you may not be able to stave off boredom completely, but you will at least have a few tricks up your sleeve so you can keep it at bay.
When the long, dark nights of winter set in, it can feel like an eternity from sundown to sunrise. It is important to fill those hours not only with much-needed healing and refreshing sleep, but also with activities that are productive. It’s always good to have a “rainy-day” fund of chores that need to be done in case you’re bogged down for a while.
Keeping your tools sharp is something everyone should be proficient at, but not only is it important for the usefulness and life of the tool, but also for your mind and hands. Sharpening your knives, axes, chainsaws, hatchets, or kitchen knives can be a fun and useful endeavor.
Another thing to take into account here is your personality. Are you the type of person who enjoys having a routine, or do you like to handle things as they come up? If you’re into schedules, then feel free to use your time to make and stick to a chore schedule. Do the dishes every night at seven if that helps you. Sometimes having little goals like that to look forward to throughout the day can make the time pass faster and easier.
We all know there’s never any shortage of chores to be completed, the key is to use those chores to your benefit to avoid boredom. If there are several people in the compound, split the chores up and then rotate them week by week so no one gets stuck doing the same boring thing all the time.
A deck of cards can be your best friend. Lightweight, compact, and quite durable, there’s no shortage of activities that you can do with a deck of cards. From solitaire to pitch to gin rummy, card games are an easy and fun way to kill some time. A single candle burning will give enough light for five or six people to participate.
During World War II, the Red Cross made playing cards with glue that dissolved in water, and printed maps on the inside of each card. This allowed any Allied serviceman imprisoned in a foreign POW camp to have a map of the area in case they got a chance to escape. You might not need to go to this length to be prepared, but a deck of cards with pre-planned meeting places or codes shoved in the box would be a handy thing to have in everyone’s bug-out bag.
There are several other reasons to keep a deck of cards or five around. Almost everyone knows at least a card game or two, and it can take up a lot of what would otherwise be dead time to teach someone a new card game. There are an endless variety, and if you have room in the shelter or safe area, be sure to include a cribbage board and poker chips, or any other card game-related accessories you might need.
There is almost no limit to the usefulness of fifty-two wax-coated pieces of paper. From signaling to game night, be sure to stock up on a few decks just in case.
Contests and Games
Who says we can’t have fun while doing our jobs too? If you’re in need of food, try to turn it into a competition. See who can shoot the most rabbits. See who has the better aim. Or if you’re flying solo, try to beat your personal record.
If you have your family or a group of people you’re with, contests and games can be easy. But it is important to be careful. Preventing boredom by engaging in a game shouldn’t lead to rifts between people. Be sure to take into account everyone’s personality and try to keep the games light.
Prizes should be somewhat meaningless so that no jealousy erupts. Exemption for a day from doing a chore is a good prize. If it’s Jim’s day to collect the chicken eggs, and he wins a contest to see who is more accurate with a bow and arrow, then the second-place person should have to get the eggs. This allows Jim to feel like he won while not humiliating any of the other participants.
But games and contests are not only for those of us who are in groups. If you are on the move and are feeling bored, play against yourself. A lot of the games mentioned above can be played solo, whether it’s cards or a shooting contest. But be honest with yourself and see if you can do better than you have in the past. Don’t forget to include some sort of prize for yourself.
Trying to prevent boredom can become boring in and of itself. But if you prepare properly by including cards, board games, and other tools like that in your stockpiles, you can turn years of dead-time boredom into productive, mind-easing activities that will keep you sharp, engaged, and absorbed.