Some of you don’t know what it’s like to grow up without a bunch of neighbor kids to play with.
Some of you don’t remember having days on end without a mom or dad at home telling you what to do or entertaining you.
Considering all those parents who suddenly find themselves working from home and are looking for ways to keep their kids busy without devices and without friends and without your constant input, I thought these ideas might help you.
So … here’s 47 ways I occupied my time growing up as a latchkey kid in an urban area without electronic devices. Looking at this list makes me extra thankful for my sister. Even though we fought, I’m so thankful I had her.
Read books – lots of books – to my stuffed animals, to myself, outside, inside, in the attic, in the basement, in my bedroom, in the living room, picture books, chapter books, old books, new books, fiction, non-fiction, short, long … lots and lots of books.
Built forts with chairs and sheets
Made zoos with stuffed animals
Swung on our swing set
Made kites out of all kinds of stuff
Made paper airplanes
Made paper snowflakes
Made signs and cards for my mom and dad
Played tennis at the high school a few blocks away
Played Connect Four
Played Guess Who
Played Pay Day
Played with an old doll house
Played with my cat
Looked at old photo albums
Made a newspaper to sell to my neighbors for 20 cents each
Used an encyclopedia to write articles about animals I liked
Made up jokes and wrote them down
Recorded nonsense of all kinds on a tape recorder
Drew pictures with pencil
Drew pictures with chalk
Painted with watercolors
Colored coloring books
Put together puzzles
Made stuff with wood scraps, a hammer, some nails and glue, and sometimes even my dad’s drill press and handsaw
Made-up crazy recipes in the kitchen
Made real recipes in the kitchen
Napped all over the house – on floors, in closets, behind doors, on couches – but rarely in my bed
Fought with my sister
Made up with my sister
Blasted music and sang along, while acting out the lyrics, with my sister
Took care of whatever extra pets I had at the moment – hermit crabs, fish, turtles, frogs, mice, hamsters, gerbils, or stray kittens
Took a walk around my neighborhood
Rolled down the hill next door
Played in the sprinkler in the summer or in the snow in the winter
Day dreamed on my front porch
As we have this time on pause, let’s give our kids some time to return to the simpler things, things that don’t have to be plugged in, things you don’t have to have a crowd to do, things that use your creativity and (dare I say) things that invite you to be a little “bored.”
Being bored isn’t always bad.