Monday, October 29, 2012

Stuff To Do While Waiting For A Hurricane

OK.  It’s officially Day 1 of Hurricane Sandy here in the northeastern United States, and things are going smoothly as we wait for the storm to arrive.  As smoothly as they can with a work-from-home husband and two off-their-school-schedule crankypants kids and a peace-seeking Mom in the house.

The past few days, as we’ve been swamped with preparations information and terrible news about flooding and storm surges and oh, heck with it, let’s just throw a full moon in there to make things extra nutsy, I have been noticing that more than a few friends have been mulling ideas on how to keep everyone busy when the rain and wind threaten our very existence.  Here are some things I came up with to keep my family occupied while the electricity’s still running and we are all stuck in the house because who wants to go out in a hurricane?  Crazy people, that's what I say.

Watch TV.  As long as we have electricity, the TV may as well be on.  Why not pretend it is still summer?  Crank up the heat, put on your favorite bathing suit, and lounge in front of yet another Spongebob Squarepants episode that you’ve all seen three hundred times.

Get the little moochers in the kitchen.  My son is in 6th grade, and this year he has Family and Consumer Sciences, which for the uneducated out there means Home Ec.  Today he will be wowing us with his culinary skills as he makes cinnamon and sugar coated pretzels.  Never mind that I sent the hubs out to get the pretzels; sacrificing his safety is worth the five minutes of peace that will happen while this amazing dish is prepared.  Maybe I can stretch it to ten if they do the dishes, too.

Read.  OMG we have five thousand books in the house; pick one up and stop crying about it, for Pete’s sake. Maybe you’ll learn something.

Let them fight.  Sometimes boredom and frustration just have to be let out, or it will explode in the form of sky-high therapy bills.  Give your angels a couple of basic rules to follow (no face pounding, no junk punching) and let them pummel each other.  Lock yourself in the bathroom with your iPod and turn the volume up high.  If your kids are like mine, they’ll stop fighting when they realize that their audience is gone.

Art projects.  When my kids were younger, this used to mean crayons and printer paper.  Now that my kids are older, art projects still mean crayons and printer paper.  If you are more creatively inclined (and I’ll bet you three bazillion dollars that you are), there are infinite ways to keep your kids occupied with crafts that include endless supplies like paper, pencils, markers, paint, dried pasta and beans, beads, glue sticks, string, feathers, yarn, fabric, and cardboard. 

Electronics.  iPods, iPads, computer games, gaming consoles, handheld systems, Kindles, smartphones; the possibilities are endless, just as my children’s appetites for these glowing mind-suckers.  When their screen time limits are up (and they should have limits), put them to work locating the appropriate power cords that lie tangled in a ball in the junk drawer so they can be charged up before the lights go out.

Do the laundry.  This is a prime time to teach your children the art of doing laundry; they will love to help you sort socks and knowing the correct way to fold underwear.  No, they won’t, but it is a character-builder.  If you really want to stretch out the teachable moments, wash and dry all the laundry ahead of time and pile it in a heap; wait until the power goes out to fold it.

Do your homework.  If your kids are like mine, there are still one or two assignments they’ve been saving for the morning they go back to school, to be remembered and panicked about five minutes before the bus arrives.  Get that crap done NOW.

Practice their music lessons.  Get your burgeoning Beethovens and Bachs to get some extra practice time in on their trumpet, flute, clarinet, piano, sousaphone, what have you.  Enlist earplugs as necessary.

Organize your stuff.  Empty cluttered closets, toy bins, dresser drawers.  Ask your kids to help you decide what you need and don’t need.  Ask them for “help” organizing their toys.  Utilize black garbage bags; trash two-thirds of what they don’t play with while their backs are turned.

Hopefully these tips will help you as you wait out the storm.  If it doesn’t, hopefully you have stockpiled enough booze to get through the worst of it.  The name of the game is to stay safe and sane.  Good luck!
Looks pretty peaceful so far, right? 
It's because it's happening outside of my house.

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