When the SHTF and you need to evacuate your home, things are going to get tough. Bugging out should only ever be a last resort, despite what many survivalists like to dream about. It's not impossible to live off the land, but without the right gear and supplies you can bet it'll be a struggle. And even more so with kids. You've not only got to bring (and carry) additional supplies, you need to think about how you'll keep them safe on the road, and also comfortable and entertained. If you don't plan accordingly, your bug out will be a blow out.
How you're planning to carry them
The first thing you're going to need to consider is the ground you'll cover. Infants and toddlers will need to be carried, and even young kids will not be able to walk far. You need a plan to carry your kids, whether it's in an all-terrain cart or stroller, or a baby backpack that distributes their weight on your hips. You simply cannot carry them in your arms if you're needing to hike a long distance. Consider the terrain you'll be bugging out through, and ensure you've got a solution that will allow you to move easily through whatever you need to cross. Even if your kids are a bit older, having a plan to carry them so you can keep moving once they get tired is critical. We've slowly been getting our kids used to long hikes, but they've still got a ways to go in developing any kind of endurance. You'll also need to consider who is carrying the weight. My wife is fit, but she struggles carrying my three-year-old daughter for more than a couple of miles. Which means I'm usually loaded up with my kit, and my daughter as well on the front carrier. As she's pushing 35 pounds, the weight adds up which means I need to pack lighter, so I'm still able to carry her and my bug out kit.
How you'll keep them calm
In a SHTF situation you can bet there's a whole lot of noise, stress and panic, and your kids will be picking up on your vibes. Sirens, gunshots, and even screaming will put your kids on edge, and you'll need a way to help them stay as calm as possible. Scared kids will cry, and that can draw unwanted attention your way. Plus, you don't really want to cause any long-lasting trauma to your kids. We've got a few techniques we use to keep our youngest calm. In addition to earplugs, she is quite happy to wear a set of noise-cancelling headphones and listen to music on my phone, which would be the perfect distraction in a less-than-optimal situation. In the baby carrier we've also got an option that attaches a hooded head cover that helps shield her from what's going on, and perhaps stop her seeing some PTSD-inducing scenes in a crisis. If your kids are a bit older you could get them playing games or watching movies, just make sure you've got battery packs or a way to recharge your phones
while you're off the grid.
How you'll keep them sanitary
Of course, it's smart to get your kids potty-trained as fast as possible, but it's not always an option and a crisis usually hits at the worst possible time. You need a plan to keep young kids sanitary. Disposable diapers will need to be carried with you until they can be disposed of properly. One trick I found with keeping my youngest clean was to carry cotton pads (extremely light), and to use just a little water on these when I needed to change her. It was far lighter (overall) than carrying packs of baby wipes when we brought her hiking. And remember a little soap and some hand sanitizer will go a long way in keeping everyone in your family healthy while you're bugging out.
How you'll keep them quiet
In a dangerous situation a little noise can draw the wrong people in, but young kids simply don't always understand the risks. Hungry and tired children spell a disaster for staying silent, and it's up to you to plan accordingly. Take breaks when they're needed, have food on hand to keep them fed, and it's smart to get your kids communicating non-verbally. We play a game when we're hiking called the bird monster, and we've taught our girls that the louder they are, the birds think they're a monster and will fly away and hide from them. Now this is the furthest from what my girls want to be, so they've taken to being as quiet as possible in the wild. They'll tug my hand when they want something, whisper instead of shouting, and take care to be quiet when we're in the woods.
How you'll keep them entertained
Video games only go so far, and on a long bug out or hike it's inevitable your kids will get bored. Then they get cranky, and start acting out. What we've done is try to assign certain jobs to our kids, as we're hiking so they are constantly doing "something." Perhaps they're looking for a certain type of berry or edible, scouting for a water source to refill our bottles, or even reading the map to show us which direction to hike. Small things make a big difference to kids, especially if they feel in control or that they are being a "big helper."
How you'll keep them safe
It goes without saying you should be armed and ready for anything as you're bugging out, but there's a few other considerations to make. We've given our kids whistles and flashlights so if they ever get lost we stand a better chance of finding them, and my eldest is now at the stage she can pack her own bug out kit, and knows how to properly use everything in her bag. I'm confident she’ll survive and know what to do, where to go, and how to keep herself safe, even if she gets separated from the rest of the family. Bugging out is a last resort, but with a little planning and foresight you can learn how to get out of dodge effectively, even with your kids. Do it right, and your chances of survival increase exponentially.