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Smarter Parenting skills work even during tornadoes!

Smarter Parenting skills work even during tornadoes!

Parenting can be a wild ride at times.

Like most parents we have a ‘daily plan’ in place. This is a loose schedule that we discuss each morning so everyone knows what’s happening throughout the day.

Each day has it’s highs and lows, but with a schedule and a simple reward/consequence system in our home most days run pretty smooth. Our kids respond well to a ‘loose’ schedule which keeps them on track, they always know what’s coming next, and they know if they follow the schedule they earn a few small things during the week.

Other days are a complete roller coaster, plans change, things come up or tornadoes blow down your street.


Last Monday was that day here in Lincoln, Nebraska. Our day started off with the normal stuff-wake up, feed the kids, feed the dogs, take the kids to school, take the dogs out to use and abuse the lawn…you know the drill.

After school things got crazy. At 3:00ish, the wind picked up, the rain started coming down hard, and the news detailed a bad storm coming in. At @3:45 pm everyone in Lancaster County received the same text.

“Attention Lancaster County Residents: 3:45 PM: Warning! Severe Weather Approaching. Tornado Alert. Take Shelter”

Okay-quick side note: I can’t get over the technology involved in sending a text to everyone’s cell phone in our county. We both have out of state numbers, yet got the same text as the locals simply by being here. Blows. My. Mind. If someone could explain this tech to me, I’d appreciate it.

So what do you do when you get a severe tornado alert? Naturally you go outside, measure up the storm and take pictures.

Each school and government building in Lincoln Nebraska has tornado sirens, which I was oblivious to until that afternoon.

It was surreal, almost like a scene from a movie. At 4:00 PM I walked out to the end of the driveway, heard the tornado sirens blaring throughout the city, and saw the angriest, yet most colorful skyline I’ve ever seen. Water was actually rising from the grass and going up into the sky, hail began flying North to South in a nearly sideways direction, and the wind was whipping our street numbers around like a pinwheel.

I watched my neighbor across the street (who already had two cars in his garage) grab the kids blow up pool and tie it down over the roof and sides of his car while wearing a football helmet.

Then this text was sent out.

“Attention Lancaster County Residents: 4:00 PM: Warning! Sever Weather. Tornado Warning until 4:45. Take Shelter Now”

The problem with this mass texting plan is that our kids who have phones receive the same texts. There’s no hiding it from them or trying to make light of the situation.

I could see the scared look in my daughter’s eyes and heard the tremble in her voice when she asked “What are we going to do?

I then gave her a few simple instructions. “Grab the left over pizza, go down stairs and tell the kids we’re going to have a Wii party.”

She nailed the steps of FOLLOWING INSTRUCTIONS

She said “Okay”, grabbed the pizza out of the fridge and turned the Wii on for the other two. She then checked back by coming back up stairs screaming at me (which I’ll let go given the circumstances).


I grabbed the puppies, while she grabbed the pee pads (which were just completely decorated that day), dog treats, and their water dish.

The dogs weren’t fooled. They went nuts. They pooped all over the place, were clearly nervous, and could tell something dangerous was happening outside.

We spent the next 45 minutes playing the Wii, checking the weather on our phones, and checking on friends in the neighborhood via social media.

I ran back up stairs a few times to check out the action (because when’s the next time I’m going to live through a tornado, right?) to see how the neighborhood was holding up. T he streets were flooded, signs were knocked over, lamps were shattered, and our lawn was blanketed in large hail stones.

During one of my trips upstairs, I realized I had left my own car in the driveway.

Like I do every day, I park in the driveway so that my wife can park in the garage-please hold the applause and the chivalrous comments until I’m done.

I opened up the garage door to see golf ball sized hail bouncing off of my car. I cringed every time I heard the loud THWACK, as hail stones shattered my windshield and left dents in my car. Without any conscious effort or plan, my mind performed a quick SODAS worksheet.

Situation: I left my car in the driveway during a tornado

Options: 1) Leave it, 2) Run out as is and drive it in the garage 3) wrap myself up in the thickest clothing possible, and brave the storm and try to drive it in.

DISADVANTAGES: Disadvantages for each option were easy. Let my car get destroyed, get hurt, or even worse be permanently injured by taking a hail stone to the noggin’.

ADVANTAGES: Advantages consisted of staying alive, letting the insurance sort it out, and possibly saving the car without getting hurt.

SOLUTION: I chose survival and stayed inside.

Total cost of damages to my car: Almost $10,000. Chance to say that I’ve lived through a tornado: Priceless

Nearly 10 days later, my car is still in the shop getting a complete body makeover, but I’m alive and healthy.

As the sun was setting, I went for a short walk to capture a few last pictures of this wild day. The storm was several miles away now. In the end, 3 tornadoes hit Lincoln that day and one of them touched down a mere 3 blocks from my home. Fortunately, no serious injuries were reported and the damages were confined to manageable roof repair and siding work.

As you can imagine, social media was crazy that day as friends and family shared stories of trying to keep their excited, scared children safe and in order.

The Smarter Parenting skills work with consistent practice and with daily re-enforcement they truly become second nature.

It wasn’t until later that evening, after my wife was finally allowed to drive home that we then re-stated how fortunate we were to have everyone safe, and to have the Smarter Parenting skills in place in our home to help our children be obedient in even the scariest and craziest of situations.