It seems like this Spring has been an extremely bad season for storms here in Ohio and across the rest of the United States. I can honestly say that in the almost 30 years that I have been living, I cannot ever recall a time where we have had such awful weather. Our children haven't been able to play outside much (which takes a toll on everybody!!!) and even worse, it hasn't just been the rain that has been a pain. It's the storms! We have had the worst thunderstorms that I can ever recall having and it has left children around here feeling very anxious and scared, and with the devastating storms that we have seen, I can't say I blame them.
My 9 year old son and I were on our way home from a soccer tournament just a few weeks ago when we suddenly heard tornado sirens. I looked around, didn't see any signs of storms coming so we figured that city must have been testing their sirens, no big deal. A minute later I had a text message from another Mom from the team saying, "A tornado is coming, get out of town." I thought she was joking so I sent something back messing around with her. It was at that time that I turned on the radio and it was coming across that there was, in fact, a tornado coming! It had already touched down 10 miles to the south of us and we were heading right into its path. So I did the only thing I could think to do and that was step on the gas and get as far away as possible before it hit. Luckily we made it home but in the process of doing so, my son looks at me and asks, "Are we going to die?" And this has pretty much been the way things have went all Spring, every time a storm rolls into town. Our 9 year old is immediately terrified and asks a million questions about the weather and what's going on. I thought as the oldest child, he would be the one who would be brave but what I realized was that as the oldest child, he is the one who understands how bad these storms can be and he is now old enough to know what kind of destruction they are capable of producing.
So wouldn't you know, our misfortune hit again last night which wasn't a good thing because our children saw on the news and talked at school about the tornado in Joplin, Missouri. We were at tee-ball practice last night and I got a text on my phone from the Sheriff Department issuing a Severe Thunderstorm Warning. A lot of the parents watched the sky as it turned all kinds of wicked colors and then right before the storm hit, they decide to evacuate the building and send everyone home! Now let me tell you. The last place I wanted to be with my 4 children with THIS looming overhead was outside in a mini van, driving down the highway!!
Here are the clouds when we left practice!
Here they were as we arrived home!!!
The clouds were extremely frightening looking and I have to admit, I even felt a little panic myself. After all, our town was hit by an F1 tornado just a month ago that wiped out a grocery store and damaged several homes. We got home right as the storm really got started. It had been raining but the winds had not yet arrived. I sent the kids quickly inside while I got the baby. Right as the kids got in, the 70mph winds hit and all I could hear was shattering glass as the wind busted the windows out. I grabbed Aiden as fast as I could and ran for the door. The wind was so strong I couldn't open it. A weather gauge that we had hanging on the side of the house blew off and sliced my elbow open as I tried to protect Aiden from getting hit. I couldn't get in the house through the front door so I handed the baby to Emma through a window and ran to the other side of the house to use another door. Once inside, the sound of the wind was terrifying and I sent the kids to our safe place until it passed. Thankfully it passed quickly but the fear of the entire situation was terrifying for our children. Luckily, I have learned some great tips to share with you on things you can try if your child is afraid of thunderstorms. There's nothing worse than your child being scared and you not being able to soothe them or make them feel better so maybe some of these things will help your child cope too! I know these are the things that have helped us survive!
1.) Make your own "storm kit" filled with things to do to occupy your child(ren) during storms. Include necessities like flashlights, extra batteries, snacks, bottles of water, anything you might need in case you have to take shelter for awhile. We also included things in our kit like card games and we let each of the children include one of their favorite kind of toys like special stuffed animals, etc. that make them feel more secure.
2.) If it's storming but not bad enough that you have to take shelter, try occupying them with a movie and popcorn! We snuggle up together and let the kids pick their favorite movie and we just enjoy the time together. We keep our favorite "movie theatre candy" in the pantry for these special times too. It might cost $5 at the theatre but the local dollar store has these same boxes of candy for $1 so we try to keep some in the pantry for times like these.
3.) Have a Thunderstorm party! Make popcorn and play games.
4.) Let them sleep with you. If you aren't comfortable with that, consider having an air mattress available to put on the floor for your child(ren) to sleep on. Just being close to you sometimes is all it takes.
5.) Make up stories about what you think the thunder sounds are coming from. When I was little, my Mom told us it was God moving his furniture. Play this game with your kids and have them guess what they think the sound is!
6.) Build a fort and have a camp out inside the house!
7.) Invest in a sound machine that has storm sounds. Our children have one of these and half the time when it storms at night, they don't even wake up because they are so used to sleeping with the sound anyway! Or you can buy CD's that have the same sounds.
8.) Be a good example! Stay calm and show the kids that you aren't scared and they shouldn't be either.
9.) Take your kids to a science museum and let them learn about the weather. Our 9 year old is fascinated with the weather and how things work.
10.) Show them the fun side of storms! After the storm ends, let them jump in the puddles. Look for a rainbow.
11.) Be patient. Understanding. Supportive. This too shall pass.