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Ten tips for a hurricane day home with the kids

Posted by Dr. Claire McCarthy  October 29, 2012 07:37 AM

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Last night, my youngest (aged seven) really wanted us to turn off the television. He did not want to watch any more coverage of Hurricane Sandy. "This is scaring me!" he said.

"We're going to keep you safe," I told him. And although he wanted to believe us, I could see that it didn't entirely make him feel better.

I grew up on the north shore of Long Island (I'm kind of glad I'm not there now). We had lots of storms--and lost power all the time. It was years before I felt comfortable having an electric alarm clock; growing up, I always had a wind-up one. But for Liam, this concept of storms is new and scary. They've called off school, so for him, that's a sign that this is going to be Bad.

Here are some ideas for things you can do with your child today both to calm nerves and pass the time:

1. Get the flashlights ready together. There's nothing like a flashlight to make you feel better, I think. You know you are going to see. Since losing electricity is a big kid worry, put the batteries in together, test them, and put them in an easily accessible place. They are also really fun to play with, especially in tents made of sheets.
2. Plan out the day--and include activities that don't require electricity. A big blank day can be a bit worrisome all around (especially if you are like me and need to get some work done). Put the stuff that definitely requires electricity (like watching a movie or baking cookies) early in the day, before the wind is due to pick up. Check out the game closet, pick out some to play together.  and put them in a stack to be at the ready.
3. Think of games that don't involve any props at all--like Charades, or Guess What I'm Thinking. Kids really love these games. Actually, what they really love is playing with you. So do it.
4. Plan out the menu. Include some sweets or silly stuff, and have a plan for meals that don't require electricity (that was one of Liam's biggest worries, oddly enough). 
5. Stay in your jammies. How often do you get to do that? 
6. Check in for hurricane updates, but don't have the Weather Channel on nonstop. It will freak out your kids. And get in the way of Charades. They don't have much new to say usually anyway.
7. Get out sleeping bags and blankets. They go well with jammies, and are comforting.
8. Spend some time doing arts and crafts. Paint, draw, make collages out of pictures from catalogs and magazines. Most families don't do that kind of stuff hardly enough these days. 
9. Look at photo albums together. It's really fun to reminisce and tell family stories--and it's a great way to take your mind off of things.
10. Hug, and snuggle. We never, ever do that enough.  

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About MD Mama

Claire McCarthy, M.D., is a pediatrician and Medical Communications Editor at Boston Children's Hospital . An assistant professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and a senior editor for Harvard More »

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