Summer Fun When the Power Goes Out

Summer is the season of sun, swimming and, sometimes, storms. Hot-weather thunderstorms, rolling in like a Harley-Davidson motorcycle gang, often pack enough punch to knock the lights out. Sometimes it’s just for a few minutes, but other times it can be for hours. Today’s households are so plugged in, it’s a bit unnerving when the electricity fails. While it may be a bummer, there’s no reason it has to be miserable. Here are some ideas to turn summer power-outage interludes into opportunities for some quality family time.

  • When in doubt, build a fort. If you have little ones, keep them occupied and take their minds off the thunder and lightning by building a fort. The simplest designs are just a sheet draped over the living room furniture. But the more elaborate, the better. Think about it: playing board games or putting puzzles together at the dining table is one thing, but an imaginative space that breaks the routine, instantly amplifies the fun factor. (Plus, you’ll win major cool-parent points down the road.) If you’d rather avoid having to put the living room back together, grab the family tent and try camping indoors. In addition to weathering the storm, this is a great way to introduce younger children to the idea of sleeping in a tent before embarking on your first family trips outdoors.
  • Shadow storytelling. Use the sheet from your fort, or the top of the tent, as a screen for shadow puppets. There are several ways to go about this. Try your hand at storytelling on-the-spot, teaching the kids how to form shadows using the light from an electric lantern. (If you’re unsure about making something up, you can also read from a favorite book, but making up your own illustrations.) Or try the reverse, where the kids make up the story and you try to keep up with the puppetry. Don’t be afraid to use other objects to help you out. A set of blocks can be a shadow castle, or the family dog a shadow fire-breathing dragon. Let your imaginations run wild.
  • Headlamp scavenger hunt. It’s always best to have multiple light sources around the house. A lantern keeps one room lit, but it’s handy to keep headlamps or flashlights around, too. If someone needs to go in search of something or just head down the hall to the bathroom, it’s best if they don’t have to take the main light-source to do it. With that in mind, another fun family activity is putting on a headlamp scavenger hunt. Draw up a short list of clues, perhaps focusing on details around the house the kids may take for granted or not otherwise have noticed. For example, “What is the color of the biggest book on the third shelf in the bedroom?”
  • Baking cookies. If the actual storm has passed, but the power’s still out take the camping idea one step farther by cooking on a camp stove. Hotdogs or soup are easy enough, but wow the kids, and maybe start a family tradition, by showing them how to bake cookies. All you need is some cookie mix and a skillet. Essentially, you’ll be a making one giant pan-sized cookie. Again, it’s out of the ordinary, so it’s an easy way to keep things interesting. Remember: Under no circumstances should you attempt to use the camp stove indoors. 

Summer fun shouldn’t have to end when the lights go out. You might be able to crowd around a laptop and watch a movie, but don’t be afraid to let your family’s imagination light the way until the power comes back on. Who knows, when the electricity returns, you might find it’s more fun to keep the lights off! What are some other ways your family has made it through a blackout?


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