In the age of mp3 players, cell phones, laptops, and video games, I have to admit I welcome a good old-fashioned power outage. It can bring our family together in a way that usually turns out to be a blessing in disguise.
Sometimes the kids don't quite agree. At night, a power outage can be pretty frightening. Suddenly everything is quieter than is usual. Of course, it's very dark. Even my teens get a little on edge when the power goes out. However, we have found some tricks that can turn a little fear into a lot of fun. Because we live in a neighborhood with a lot of mature trees, it's fairly often that a limb falls and knocks out the lights for a few hours. We've learned to make the most of it.
When the lights go out, it's a great opportunity to catch your children's attention. If a weather situation is the reason for the outage, open the windows and listen to the rain and thunder. Talk to your children about the science behind weather, which may comfort them. Involve them in the process of calling your local power company to report the outage. Keep them in the loop about when the power might be restored. Helping your children understand what is happening will eliminate much of their initial confusion and fear.
Board games by candlelight
Getting the whole family together, taking the time to sit and play a game can be difficult with all the many distractions in our lives. Fortunately, those old favorites at the top of the closet don't require electricity, and can be a great way to spend an evening together with no power. Lighting the room by candlelight adds an element of magic, and any old game can create a room filled with laughter.
This dark version of hide-and-seek is a lot of fun. Divide up into pairs (especially if your children are small). One team gets a flashlight. The other team gets to the count of 30 to hide anywhere in the house. The other team can only use one flashlight to try to find them. If they do, they tag the other team, and switch roles. If not, the hiders get to hide again, until they're found.
Singing songs is another great way for everyone to join in together and distract the kids from a scary situation. If you have instruments, break them out and use them. If not, let the kids make their own drums from plastic bowls and wooden spoons, maracas by throwing dried beans or rice into a bottle, and the best instrument, their own voices.
Living room slumber party
What's better than a cushy fort that takes up the entire living room, even for adults? Light some candles in the corners of the room and build a space for the whole family to snuggle up together, talk, tell stories, play word games like you do on long family trips in the car. Plan a slumber party on this special occasion, which will certainly comfort the little ones.
Losing power can be a tricky surprise, particularly for our young children. Yet, with a little creativity, these times can be pure gold for family closeness. I welcome these breaks from the norm, and capitalize upon them as a chance to really enjoy each other without the distractions of everyday life.