47 Things I did by Myself or With My Sister as a Latchkey Kid Growing Up

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

Climbed trees

Jumped rope

Hula-hooped

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 croquet 

Played badminton 

Played tennis at the high school a few blocks away

Played Connect Four

Played Guess Who

Played Pay Day

Played cards

Played school 

Played house

Played dress-up

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

Played piano

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 

Picked flowers 

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.

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