Irma threw our schedule completely out of wack. We’re finally getting back in gear so I’m just now updating the blog. Thankfully, we’re all ok it was just a very hectic month. So here’s a little bit of a backstory on the kids hurricane experience and how it went this time…
Hurricanes and Trying To Keep The Kids Calm
Growing up in Florida, hurricanes are oh so familiar to me. I can remember though, as a kid being absolutely freaked out that the world was going to end. I want to make sure my kids don’t experience the anxiety that comes with a hurricane, or atleast shield them from as much as I can.
Last Year- The Kids First (Recognized) Hurricane
Last year, Hurricane Matthew came up on the East Coast of Florida. We debated back and forth about leaving but decided to stay. We have been very blessed the past few years prior in limited to no storms. Having small kids and dealing with a hurricane is difficult. Dealing with a hurricane is difficult on anyone- but keeping yourself together and little ones adds to the challenge.
At the time of Hurricane Matthew, our daughter was 5 and our son was 2. My daughter is a deep thinker. She analyzes things, which sometimes causes her to worry. I tried to minimize the weather watching because I knew it would totally freak her out. She had heard about “the big storm” at school at had seen some of the weather reports. Putting her to bed one night she started crying asking if the storm would destroy everything. I did my best to explain that Mommy and Daddy were keeping an eye on things and would keep her safe. I also told her the ‘special’ things we had bought as part of our hurricane food. ‘Special’ things being a keyword for junk food. .
We were supposed to get the effects of the storm late on a Friday. Early that afternoon we went and picked up two pizzas from Mellow Mushroom. We got one for lunch and one to eat later- don’t judge lol. (The pizzas were gone by 2 am the next morning. For whatever reason hurricanes make us all really hungry.) The windows were boarded up, which freaked the kids out because normally we have a lot of natural light coming in. We still had power at this time so I distracted them with being able to eat lunch in the living room and watch tv. We had power through most of the storm, which was odd because we’ve been known to lose power in a summer thunderstorm (although its typically brief). Never the less, I was thankful. The power did go out after a few hours causing child panic. We played games, read books, colored and kept busy. That night we all slept on the living room floor. It’s wood so we piled some blankets on to try and make it a little softer. I grabbed their turtle night lights that projected stars on the ceilings and all was well.
Power was out for 2 ½ days which felt like all eternity at the time. Lucky for us, my parents got power after one day so we spent the night with them the second night. Everybody spending the night at the grandparent’s house and sleeping on an air mattress in their living room was fantastic as far as the kids were concerned.
The crisis of scaring our kids due to the fear of a storm was averted. Maybe a little too much though. Afterwards, they kept asking when we’d have another hurricane again and if it could be soon. It was like the countdown to hurricane season was on.
This year when Hurricane Irma came around the kids weren’t as afraid, however, they did want to know what our hurricane plans were. Would we be having another ‘party’ (aka sleeping in the living room) or would we go away? This storm was huge and while I felt like we could probably ride it out my husband wanted to leave remembering that no power with little kids is rough.
We went back and forth about where we could go, which was very limited since the state of Florida was all on hurricane watch. We ended up finding a pet-friendly hotel in Charlotte, North Carolina. Charlotte is typically 5 ½ hours away from us. It took us 12 hours to get there. That was with some back roads. Did I mention my kids aren’t used to long car rides? They did go through. My yorkie-poo (who is 13 lbs) did great as well even though initially he didn’t want to get in the car. We tried to stop at a fast food place on the first 3 exits in Georgia but everything was closed. It was around noon on Friday.
We limited drinks because we wanted to stop as little as possible. The drive up went as well as it possibly could have under the circumstances.
It was funny because it got dark and the kids both said it was past their bed time. My son said “Mommy I never been up this long” to which my daughter added “yeah, and it’s really dark in here!” It was 9pm at the time, which they have been up past 9 before but it occurred to me never in a car. We finally got into our hotel around 11:30.
Saturday, we got up and had breakfast at the hotel (YAY for free breakfast!) then ventured out to a farmers market. The farmers market was big, and they had a lot to look at. I wish we had big ones like that locally. My favorite part is the fresh flowers. I would love to be able to go to the market and pick up fresh flowers!
We googled “Things to do in Charlotte” and one of the options was Sea Life Aquarium. The aquarium was in the mall so we decided to give it a shot since after the aquarium walking around the mall would give us something to do. Unfortunately, my phone died so I didn’t get too many pictures 🙁 .
The aquarium was cute. Thankfully, they were offering 50% off for Florida evacuees. The kids had a ball!
Sunday, we drove to Virginia to see my husband’s great aunt. She was further away than we initially thought but it was still nice to see her. On our way there we stopped at a rest stop to walk the dog and let the kids go to the restroom. There was cases upon cases of water that the Governor had delivered the day before to help though traveling through which was pretty awesome. I took a picture of it, however (thankfully) we didn’t need any.
Monday we had planned on trying to go to the zoo, however the weather was awful. The wind and rain effects of Irma were making their way north. The next morning there was some roof shingles that were off of the hotel that we could see from out of our window due to the wind that night.
Tuesday we made the extremely long drive home. It was another 12 hour drive, we even got off to take back roads in order to avoid sitting in traffic. We avoided stopping as much as possible. It was difficult because anywhere you stopped there were a ton of cars, and of course the bathrooms were gross which in this case was not the gas station or rest area’s fault. There’s no way to keep up with it when you have that many people around. We made it home safely though which was the goal. The next day my daughter says “Mommy, next time we go somewhere let’s take an airplane. That way it won’t take so long.” Oh, sweet girl, if you only knew.
Did you leave for Irma (or another hurricane)? How’d your trip go?