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13 Fun Family Activities for When the Power Is Out

photo of a lit candle in the dark representing the power being out
Photo credit: ibrahim34 on Pixabay

This past weekend we had a major power outage that lasted an entire day and into the night. Though certainly not the end of the world, it’s times like these that make you realize how much we rely today on technology for entertainment.

Even for something as simple as music, for many of us, everything is on the phone, ipad, laptop, or Kindle! So, then what do you do?

Not sure how to keep the kids entertained when power outages occur? Give these a try and see if it’ll keep the “Mom/Dad, I’m bored!” complaints at bay.

1. Tell Local Ghost Stories

Why not tell just any old ghost story?

Well, that’s an option, too, but local stories have way more impact!

Growing up, I heard a couple of popular local ghost stories from our community, and every time I heard them, I was absolutely enthralled. The stories were so much more real to me because I had either been to certain bridge or road where the story took place or had passed an infamous house. You get the idea.

Even if you don’t know much about your local area, there are local ghost story books you can find based on your state or maybe even your county. It’s good to have a collection of these on the shelf available for times like these. Type in “ghost stories” plus the name of your state in a browser search and you’re guaranteed to find something interesting for next time!

Warning: After the power is back on, your kids may beg you to take them to see the various landmarks in the stories so that they can play real-life “ghost-hunters!”

photo of an eerie looking forest scene representative of a ghost story
Telling local ghost stories never gets old. Photo credit: Johannes Plenio on Unsplash

2. Raid the Fridge, Freezer, and Pantry and Maybe Play “Top Chef”

If your power is only out for a few hours, you don’t have to worry much about food spoilage. But beyond that, things can potentially start to spoil or wilt, especially if the fridge door is opened repeatedly (which, you shouldn’t be doing much of, if you can help it).

This is my personal opinion, but now is probably the time to loosen up a little bit with meals. It’s only temporary, after all.

Most people start with the ice cream first. Ice cream for dinner?? Yay! Get creative with whatever toppings you have in your pantry (nuts, pretzels, chocolate chips, candies) and put together a little ice cream bar.

After you’ve finished up that ice cream, consider what’s in the fridge and pantry. Tuna salad without mayo (instead, use oil, vinegar, and herbs) is a good go-to; Nutella and peanut butter can make for fun sandwiches; tomatoes, corn, and beginning-to-wilt cilantro will make an excellent salsa. A deli meat and cheese platter with herbs and olives can even feel fancy. Let the kids pitch in with the (safer) prep activities to keep little hands busy.

Or, have them recommend their own recipes from random items (you’ll need to coach them as some kids will think sardines and marshmallows are a good combo), and have everyone judge the outcome!

Who knows? You may have a little culinary expert in the making!

3. Play Charades (with a Kid-Friendly Variation)

There are number of variations of charades in this link so you can make it easier for smaller children to participate.

Try Speed Pictionary for the artists in your group. This one reminds me of the old game show Win, Lose, or Draw, but with more of the drawing part.

Who Am I is always a riot if you want to get a little rambunctious. With this one, you pin names of characters, famous people, things, or concepts to the back of players’ shirts and have the group give them clues to guess. Or try Guess the Thing/Animal/Emotion for the younger ones using the same pin-on technique as Who Am I.

photo of a family playing charades in front of a campfire
Play charades but with simpler variations for younger participants. Photo credit: Askar Abayev on Pexels

4. Get Out a Map and Dream of Travel

Many of us don’t have paper maps around much anymore, but if you do, you’re in luck with this one! You can use a globe as well if you have one handy.

Go around the room and ask each person where they’d like to go and why. Mark those sections on the map or globe with little sticky notes to create a travel bucket list.

You don’t even have to go global or national with this one; you could even take a look at your own state and mark parks or historic sites, or drill down into your own city or town to find places you’ve never really thought to visit as a “tourist.”

5. Read a Paper Book from the Past

I’m a bit sentimental about some books, so I kept my literature books from college. Every now and then I drag them out and flip to a random story or poem and I can look at it with a fresh set of eyes. You may discover that the book you didn’t like as much then has a new meaning or interpretation, as you’re now reading it from a brand new perspective.

You can unearth one of the old classics you read from high school and recommend or flag stories for your older school-aged kids.

6. Pull Out Family High School or Grade School Artifacts

Do you or your children have a memory box of old artifacts, such as letters, awards, art, photos, etc.? Pulling out some of these long forgotten items can generate a really good laugh sometimes!

In the case of your spouse or partner, kids are always curious about what it was like when you met or were dating. And high school yearbooks from decades ago can be hours of endless fun. There’s nothing like knowing (and seeing) what dorks your parents or other family members were!

photo of a father and a daughter looking at old photo albums
Pull out old photos or yearbooks and take a walk down memory lane. Photo credit: Cottonbro on Pexels

7. Give the Pets Some Intense Playtime

Depending on whether it’s safe to go outside or whether there is enough light, pets are a great source of entertainment, and they enjoy being entertained by us.

With all of us running around taking care of various daily tasks or activities, sometimes our pets don’t get as much quality time from us as they might like to have.

Our cats love to fetch soft toys and chase a laser pointer. Dogs can seemingly go forever with the tennis ball or frisbee.

Your pets won’t know what to think when you’ve worn them out this long with playtime!

Helpful tip: Wearing our cats out before bedtime with play prevents them from doing their 3 a.m. “Cat Zoomies” routine.

photo of an orange cat chasing light from a laser pointer
A laser pointer is a great way to entertain your cat when the power goes out (or any other time, for that matter).
Photo credit: Cottonbro on Pexels

8. Try a (Safe) Scavenger Hunt

In this situation, you might be literally in the dark, so it’s important to be extremely careful, go slow, and use the flashlights!

With a scavenger hunt, you can keep the search criteria simple. “Find me something round,” something blue, something square, etc. Whoever finishes the list first wins.

9. Set Up a Family Mani-Pedi Salon

When was the last time you got a foot rub or polish? Probably awhile, huh?

Put together a manicure and pedicure salon for the whole family, with rotating roles for each family member. A bit cheesy, yes, but hey, so were your middle school slumber parties!

10. Break Out the Old Comic Books

In case you haven’t noticed, Marvel is well, a mega-brand. But what was Marvel like before Disney got involved? The “O.G.” Marvel? (Or, DC Comics, if you prefer!) Does anyone remember what that was like?

Pull out your old comic books, if you have any, and walk through the storylines for each of your favorite issues.

11. Experiment with Some Funky Braided Hairdos

If you know you won’t be able to wash and dry your hair for awhile because of a power and water shutoff, why not put it up in some funky, stylish braids?

Would you like to look like Princess Leia? Yes, I bet you would.

Dad can play, too (if he has hair, of course).

photo of young girl with elaborate hair braids
If you think you will be without water for some time and unable to shower, consider trying out some fun braided hairdos.
Photo credit: MurrrPhoto on Pixabay

12. See What the Neighbors are Up To

There’s nothing like a good storm to check in on the neighbors. Not only is this good for safety reasons, they might need some company, too!

Living in the suburbs or a rural area, due to distance, you may not get to talk to your neighbors much. Now is a great opportunity to get to know them!

Who knows? They may have even some better ideas for staying entertained!

13. Try Some Sidewalk Drawings or a Coloring Contest

If you lost power during a windstorm, like we did (so, no rain or snow – we can’t really complain), the weather may actually be just right for art with sidewalk chalk.

Just put together a little art contest with a group of kids and have the neighborhood parents judge.

If the weather is not so great, a coloring or art contest indoors is a good substitute.

photo of a boy standing on a sidewalk drawing of a yellow star using sidewalk chalk
If the weather is appropriate, you could try out some sidewalk art in the neighborhood.
Photo credit: Rob Martin on Unsplash

What do you think? Would you try out any of these activities during your next storm?

Need more family bonding ideas? Check out this post.

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