As a child my fun-filled, non-school days were spent playing with Barbies, board and card games, large group games with masses of neighborhood kids which overflowed into several yards, biking, and swinging. Swinging included any aerobatics that could be accomplished on a swing set and the neighbor’s maypole. We mostly ran barefoot. Our mom worked full-time at night. Only some moms worked outside the home. All moms had the responsibility and right to scold and call your mom if they deemed your behavior required it. Kids played outside till their parents called them home to go to bed. The 1960s was an innocent time for young children to play. Even then I vividly recall my mom’s frequent admonitions to NEVER, NEVER get in a car with a stranger NO Matter what they told you.
I recently asked my five children what their five favorite play time activities were from their childhood. I will give them to you in birth order. (Two insights of which to take note are; 1. our only girl is child #4 and 2. child #5 was born when #4 was 10 years old. This time gap meant he grew up as an only child and in a later era.)
Laser tag Reading G.I. Joes Reading Legos
Bicycling Play games Board games Dress up Nerf guns
Rollerskating Sports Tree climbing Color/drawing Family gatherings
Basketball Bike riding Anything outside after dark Barbies playing outside
Tree climbing G.I. Joes Rubber band & dart guns Roller hockey computer games
At this point #1 son had to clarify “I think all gun battles (laser, rubber band, air soft, dart, water, sticks, cap) fall under one category. . . . Awesome!”
Play time is important. Make sure your children have plenty of unstructured free play time. It is good for them to be the masters of their own entertainment. It stretches their imaginations and develops leadership and independence. Parents should not be entertainers. It is not the parents’ job to keep their kids from being bored. My only contribution to this effort was to keep a handy list of available extra chores to occupy them.
My children did resent, but lived by, the following temperature rules: 1. No water play unless it is at least 80 degrees. 2. No outside play when it is less than 10 degrees.
When my children were toddlers I played with them a lot. As they grew and played more with each other they had less need and desire for me to play with them. I did enjoy bike riding with all of them and still like it. For some activities my lack of imagination just got in their way. I never played guns with any of them. My number 1 house rule was, “Never shoot the Momma.”
It is good for children to be physically active and outside, even if outside is limited to their own fenced in backyard. If you have safety concerns for them, then go outside too. Fresh air, sunshine and activity helps everyone sleep better and feel better.