Power's Out, Creativity's In!
Sometimes power outages unleash creativity and cooperation.
Posted August 29, 2011
I saw a Facebook post today in which a New York mother of three shared that yesterday morning, during the power outage caused by hurricane Irene, she was invited into the "fort" her sons made in their bedroom. Her sons gave her "rhyming clues" that she had to figure out before she was allowed entry. She ended the post with "guess this is what happens when there's no video games/tv!"
This was met with dozens of "like's" within an hour of her posting.
When the electricity goes out, first there's a series of reminders of what you can't do. ("oh yeah, I can't use the computer, or turn on the lights, or use the microwave...") Then you start improvising ("but I can light the gas stove with a match, I can light some candles, and I can read my book.")
But the really therapeutic benefit concerns children's play and behavior. They start role playing, improvising, building things, and telling stories. Siblings tend to help each other out more. There's an element of excitement, but at the same time a calmness, since no one's overstimulated by electronics.
Can being unplugged even bring out hope? Last summer, a friend and mother of two was experiencing tremendous conflict within her family. She was so drained and depleted that she was unable to imagine things could ever change for the better. She felt hopeless and depressed, and reported she had trouble conjuring up any nurturing feelings toward her children. The worse she felt, the more the kids acted out--a vicious cycle.
A California rolling blackout helped interrupt that cycle. As the mother lit candles throughout the house and her husband ordered chinese take-out, their two young daughters became unexpectedly helpful and set the table without being asked. The were all in pleasant moods as they were forced to think outside the box and help each other problem solve. The ate dinner in a relaxed, low stimulation setting. Afterward, they played a boardgame by candlelight. No fighting! The girls went to bed (delightfully) early, and helped each other while getting ready for bed. They each slept deeply that night.
The experience helped this mother realize they could have enjoyable family time. After that she and her husband decided they'd have "Candlelight Night" once a week! Everyone enjoyed it, and it proved to be a critical step toward helping the family get back on track.