9 things to do with your kids when the power’s out

Power outage light under blanket

9 things to do with your kids when the power’s out

It’s 9:15 AM. Or maybe it’s 8:25 PM. It doesn’t matter. Time has no meaning anymore—the power’s out and you’ve become one with the darkness.

Where you once heard a cacophony of “Baby Shark” on repeat and some game on your kid’s Kindle Fire, you now hear exasperated sighs of, “I’m bored.” We all are, kid.

The power’s out, there’s no end in sight, and you’re yearning for the days of “Baby Shark.”

But wait a minute—you’re a parent. You’re the one in charge. You can create your own fun, power be damned! To help you get started, here are several ideas that should make your next power outage a fun-filled vacation from electronics.

Dust off those old board games

You probably have a closet. And in that closet, you probably have several board games nobody’s played in years. Dust those games off and show your kids the joys of analog!

Board games are a struggle if your children are especially young, but even babies or toddlers can have fun looking at box art and hearing the rules of a game. And, you can make up your own rules if your kids are too little to grasp the real ones. (There are plenty of adults that struggle with Monopoly.)

If your closet is surprisingly devoid of games, here are a few that should cover a wide age range:

  • Go Fish: Okay, so Go Fish may not be the most riveting game, but it’s suitable for even younger toddlers. You know the drill—you ask for a card you need to make a pair, and the person either has it or they don’t. Even if your kids are older, Go Fish is a good one to have on hand in case a relative visits with a toddler-aged kiddo.

  • Uno: Every household needs Uno. It should be mandated—all closets come with Uno on the shelf.

  • Cup-and-ball: Crude jokes aside, cup-and-ball is a classic that dates back hundreds of years. With cup-and-ball you have a wooden cup, a string, and a ball attached. You then swing the cup and try landing the ball in the cup. Set this relic on your TV stand or coffee table and watch as helpless passerbys are powerless against its allure. Cup-and-ball.

  • Shark Bite: Shark Bite is a little newer than cup-and-ball (say, 700 years), but it’s already a staple in our household. You’ve got a giant shark that you pull down and load, a bunch of fish to catch, and a die. You roll, see how many fish you have to catch, and hope the shark doesn’t spring up and chomp at you while you’re fishing. It’s a blast, and it doesn’t require any batteries!

  • Googly Eyes: I challenge any person, young or old, to not laugh while playing Googly Eyes. Googly Eyes forces you to draw various things while wearing glasses that distort your vision. Meanwhile, your team has to figure out what it is you’re trying to scribble down. Imagine having to draw an alpaca, only you have the vision of someone ten beers deep. Forget Pictionary!

  • Life: Okay, so Life isn’t everyone’s favorite, but it’s not the friendship destroyer Monopoly is. This game is great if you’ve got kids that are at least several years old. Any younger and you’re looking at a complicated, likely frustrating time.

The above list is by no means exhaustive, but each of those games has been a hit in our house. If you’ve got any favorites, be sure to let me know!

Play hide and seek

Hide and seek is a classic, and for good reason. I love this game, even as an adult. And I’m willing to bet your kids love this game. Power outages present the perfect time to play hide and seek, especially if it’s cold in your house. You’re moving around a lot, staying warm, and you can incorporate flashlights if it’s getting dark.

Introduce your children to the window

If the power’s out there’s a good chance something interesting’s going on outside. Maybe it’s a thunderstorm or some kind of wintry blend of frozen hell. Or, maybe a transformer blew and there’s a team of professionals dangling from the powerlines. Almost every power outage has a great origin story. Take your kids over to the window and introduce them to it.

This is often a great time to talk about the weather, educate them on clouds and storms, count breaks between thunder, or watch fireflies light up the yard. It’s like TV, before TV.


You’re a parent, you’re older than your kids, and you’ve lived some life. Use your vacation from power as an opportunity to entertain your kids with stories. Make something up, relive the glory days (not those glory days), and invite your kids to help you create a fun story all your own.

This is also a great time to dive into any unread books your kids might have on the shelf. (Assuming you have a source of light.)

Arts + Crafts

Embrace the nightmare that is Pinterest and try your hand at arts and crafts. Make snowflakes or spiderwebs out of paper, create hand puppets, draw silly cartoons, or simply bust out some crayons and let your imaginations run wild.

Whatever you do, don’t go to Pinterest for ideas and expect your crafts to look exactly like the things you find online. You’re working with what you’ve got, and your kids won’t care as long as you’re all having fun!

pretend you’re camping (You’ve got nothing better to do)

Imagine all the joys of camping, but indoors. Is there anything better?

Grab some sleeping bags, set up a tent if you want, and huddle up around an electric lantern (or a flashlight if you’re like our household). If you’ve got a gas stove, light one of the burners and roast some marshmallows. And if you’re really jonesing for an authentic camping experience, roll up your pantleg and check for ticks every few minutes. It’s fun for the whole family!

build a pillow fort


Okay, I know—I’m a grown man with responsibilities and all that other junk. But, pillow forts are still the coolest. It’s okay, you can admit it, too.

Grab some chairs, yank the pillows off the coach, undo all the hard work that went into making the bed and take the sheets, and create a fort you can be proud of. If you don’t have pillows handy, throw a sheet over a table, chairs, or anything else you can find. I guarantee you can find a way to turn something ordinary into a kick ass fort!

Note: This idea works really well even if your kids are with a sitter or other guardian. There’s no shame in being a grown adult chilling in a pillow fort.

Get creative in the kitchen

Power outages present a perfect time to get creative in the kitchen… largely because you have to.

Go through your cabinets and see if you’ve got any fun ingredients hanging out. If you’ve got a gas stove and some odd ingredients handy, get creative and have your kids help you create a new dish!

Remember: You lose a ton of cold air from the fridge anytime you open it, so do so sparingly. After all, you’re not paying to cool off the whole neighborhood. (Sorry, Dad.)

annoy your kids

If all else fails, annoy your kids. Parody their favorite songs and sing about whatever it is you’re doing, speak in weird voices, ask them tons of questions, or pretend to fall asleep anytime they look at you. Your options are endless, and the joy is infinite.

And best of all, your kids will be really, really grateful for electricity from that moment on.

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