The power is out. School is cancelled. How are parents and caregivers to survive? Speaking from my own experience, not easily. But there are ways to make a power outage manageable and even fun when you’re stuck at home with oodles of family togetherness. So let’s start with the necessities – keeping them fed.

Food Storage

There are few good things about being without power in the winter. One good thing is the built-in refrigerator/freezer we have right outside our doors (yay for living where the air hurts our face). Unlike the summer, when we worry about keeping the refrigerator door closed – now when the power goes out we can simply move our cold goods outside to empty coolers or bins and get them as needed. Keep in mind that food will stay safe in a closed refrigerator for up to 4 hours, in a half-full freezer for 24 hours and a full freezer for 48 hours.

Food Prep

If your kids are like mine – a power outage is a dream come true. Instead of well-balanced meals, I’ll tend to go the heavy snack route. Snacks for dinner! It’s an exciting time for my kids. But I try to make them high protein snacks to fill up their bellies the best I can. (It still won’t matter, they will still ask for another snack 5 minutes later.)

Since the microwave, stove and other food prep necessities likely won’t be available it’s good to have things that can be kept and consumed at room temperature, like cans of fruit. And it’s important to note – make sure you have a manual can opener!

If you’re headed out to the store before the storm hits to stock up on necessities, you might consider the following items:

  • Peanut Butter (or a nut-free alternative for allergy purposes)
  • Jelly
  • Bread
  • Tuna pouches – I’m sure I turned some stomachs with this one. You either love or hate tuna, but if you love it – the pouches are a great choice when the power is out
  • Crackers – add peanut butter, tuna or eat alone for a variety of snacks
  • Beef Jerky
  • Granola Bars
  • Boxed Milk – You do have the option of your built-in outdoor refrigerator to keep your dairy milk, but boxed milk is a good option if you don’t want to hassle with going outside. Many come in individual containers.
  • Cereal – eat it dry or with the boxed milk mentioned above.
  • Water

If you’re looking for some easy recipes to make during an outage, check out this article.

Keeping them entertained without electronics

Now that they’re fed, let’s talk about how to make it fun. Power outages can be scary for kids (and not just because their electronics don’t work) – the darkness and change from routine can be upsetting to kiddos. So, trying to keep them busy and having fun is important (albeit exhausting for the parents). When you’re prepping for the storm make sure to have lots of batteries and flashlights on-hand. While these can be used for games, they are also safer than candles when it comes to lighting up your home. Here are some other ideas to keep the kids entertained during an outage

  • Build a fort – Use blankets or even put up a tent indoors – this will also help you stay warm by keeping the heat contained
  • Games! Play card games, board games, puzzles or put those flashlights to use for flashlight tag.
  • Feeling competitive? Have a drawing, Lego building or craft contest (just don’t step on said Legos in the dark – OUCH!)
  • Exercise: this is a great way to get out energy but still stay warm. Try a few jumping jacks, yoga or a dance party to pass the time and get your blood pumping
  • Story time: Take turns either writing or verbally telling parts of a story. See what silly or creative narrative the family can come up with

Check out this printable activity from the American Red Cross.

Feeling Brave? Get outside!

I know, that sounds terrible – it’s cold! And wet! But it can also be a ton of fun – and a great way to let the kids burn off some energy. Don’t overthink it, just have fun. Here are four ideas to get you started!

  • Do you want to build a snowman? (Yes, I’m singing it in my head too.) It’s easy to do and all you need is snow! Some buttons for the eyes, a carrot nose and sticks for arms could help, but not required! 
  • Paint a masterpiece! You only need two things for this, food coloring and water (okay technically three – snow). 
  • Take a hike! (Said in the most polite way.) Take a walk through your back yard, on a nature trail or around your neighborhood. Talk about what wildlife you see and hear, and try to identify any footprints along the way. 
  • Build an igloo or a fort. It doesn’t have to be extravagant, just start building and see what you come up with.  

Looking for other fun ideas to do with the kids this winter? Check out this website.