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Hurricane Parenting- Reflecting Back on Hurricane Irma One Year Later

We’ve all heard about the new parenting ‘camps’ in recent years.  There are helicopter parents, attachment parents, lawnmower parents, and the list goes on and on.   Hurricane parenting is NOT one of those theories (at least not yet, anyway).  Hurricane parenting, in this article, refers to parents who have to deal with the actual natural disaster with children in tow (and it’s not for the faint of heart!).  

I have lived in Florida for over 25 years and dealt with many hurricanes during that time… too many to count.  Some have been major storms, while others have just been glorified thunderstorm events.  Thankfully hurricanes can be predicted pretty far in advance, at least to a certain degree, so it does give everyone time to get prepared to the best of their ability.  

Hurricane Irma

Last year, Hurricane Irma, was predicted to be a category 5 storm when it hit South Florida.  To be honest, I have never been more scared of a hurricane in my life.  Not because it was one of the largest recorded storms of all time, not because it was heading right for our area, but because for this storm, I had children to be mindful of.  Planning for a storm of this magnitude takes time, and doing so while keeping my girls calm was not easy.  Especially when my own mind was reeling with all of the scary possibilities.  I tried to be factual with my then 6 and 3 year old, telling them only what they truly needed to know at the time.  

Getting ready for a possible category 5 superstorm when you don’t have many places to evacuate to quickly is not the simplest of tasks when you are also a parent.  We have family on the West Coast of Florida, as well as near North Florida.  However, Hurricane Irma was a beast, and at one point, her forecast track went straight up the center of the state.  That didn’t leave many places to travel to quickly, with young kids (and pets).  We don’t exactly pack lightly when our children are involved.  Add in the need to bring along all our important and irreplaceable items, and we are already at capacity for our SUV!  

Here Comes the Anxiety…

While I’ve weathered many hurricanes, I’ve never done so with 2 young children, and my anxiety was at an all-time high.  I wanted out of here!  My husband didn’t want to leave our home.  It was something we discussed many times at length.  While he was certain he could keep all of us and our property safe, I wasn’t so confident.  To ease my fears, he actually built a bunker in our girls’ playroom.  It was (and continues to be, a year later) anchored into the concrete floor, with shutters on the sides, and was built around the window AC unit.  It was what finally convinced this hurricane mama to stay put.  

But keeping my girls safe was my number one priority, and not knowing just how strong the winds would be, was overwhelming for me.  How could I completely keep them safe and sound, when I wasn’t sure my husband and I would be? My children were too little to take care of themselves in any way, shape, or form.  Their entire well-being was on us as parents (as it always is), but when you are up again Mother Nature, you just never know what she’s got in store!  Hurricanes can be unpredictable, even in this day and age of top of the line meteorological tools.  

So, while my husband prepared our home, vehicles, and major supplies, I took on the task of preparing the inside of our home, not only for a hurricane, but for my girls. 

Here are some tips if you find yourself trying to survive a storm as a Hurricane Parent:

  1.  Have board games and playing cards handy.
  2. Get glow sticks from the dollar store to use as lights at night, or if the power goes out.
  3. Get the crafts out (yes, even the ones that you normally hide in the back of the closet!).
  4. Have plenty of paper and crayons ready.
  5. Create your own hurricane science experiment in a bottle (it’s fun and educational).
  6. Pull out the toys your kids haven’t played with in forever, or that you hid away from their birthday.
  7. Make hiding in your safe spot fun (call it your castle, Harry Potter room, or whatever works for your littles).
  8. Play music and have a dance party.
  9. Have some extra special snacks and treats ready.
  10. Read lots of books or take turns making up your own stories. 
  11. Play games like Red Light Green Light, Mother May I, 4 Corners, Simon Says, Freeze Tag, Hide & Seek.
  12. Use flashlights to make shadow creatures. 
  13. Make blanket and pillow forts.
  14. Go on scavenger hunts in the house, and/or allow your children to use old cameras to take pictures. 
  15. Charge the iPads ahead of time, but limit use, so they don’t run out of battery the first day.  

Hurricane Parents are required to be extra prepared when storms are imminent.  We always rise to the occasion, no matter how difficult or stressful the situation may be.  So if we are being compared to any other type of parenting (as mentioned above), this is going on the positive parenting side for sure.  We do our best to keep everyone safe and secure, both physically and emotionally.  

With our current hurricane season rapidly heating up, us Hurricane Parents need to stick together.  Right now, the Eastern Seaboard needs our South Florida Hurricane Parenting help.  Let’s give them our best tips and suggestions, as they take on Hurricane Florence.  If you have any other tricks or must-haves as a Hurricane Parent, please share.  Let’s all hope this hurricane season calms down just as quickly as it amped up, and that everyone prepares carefully and remains safe.  


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