There is no doubt that changes to our world have led to changes in the way our children spend their time. Some of these changes are positive and the advancements in technology have ensured some wonderful ways to keep our families connected, educated and inspired. But the changing world has also meant that many of the pastimes and experiences that bought us so much joy as a child have been superseded by these other activities. When talking to my kids about some of the things we used to do and hearing echo’s of my parents “in my day” and “when I was young…..” it becomes evident that each generation will always have a story to tell. I cant imagine what my own children’s children will be doing in their playtime! One of the biggest challenges today is making our kids appreciate downtime when so much of their time is about being switched on, doing activities, being connected online and being constantly entertained.
Here are a few things that I experienced as a child that for whatever reasons, my kids haven’t experienced, and may or may not ever.
Taped songs from the radio – now obviously the advances in technology have rendered this essential pastime of any eighties child obsolete. Sitting poised with two fingers on the play and record button of the tape deck waiting to hear if you liked a song, pressing record because you thought you did only to realize it was the wrong song and having to rewind back to the exact spot ready to try again. And those darn DJ’s that kept talking over the top of a song!
Bonfire and fireworks – This was a favourite in my street with all the kids heading out to the back paddock where some of the bigger kids had spent a few days building a giant bonfire. We would then all gather at night whilst all manner of fireworks would be lit, set off in an array of colours, bangs and whirls. I think this is pretty much illegal nowadays and quite frankly I am amazed we escaped with all eyes and limbs intact!
Ride a wild horse bare back – No this is not quite as graceful and romantic as it sounds. Don’t think young child galloping along the shores of the ocean, white linen and blond locks flowing in the breeze. Instead I was the guinea pig for my brother and his mate to “have a go at riding that horse”. Gullible little sister, easy to sway and keen to impress, decided that would be a good idea, despite having never ridden a horse ever, aside from a slow person-led pony ride. Needless to say it bucked me off and my nose has never been the same since! I still live quite close to those paddocks that provided us with endless space and freedom, but alas, there are no roaming wild horses anymore. Just a big whopping freeway and many more houses.
Playing the Tasting game – there is no reason why this game has not been part of my kids repertoire of games (aside from the fact I am yet to tell them about it). My friends and I used to often be found in the pantry with a blindfold on whilst the other person would spoon ghastly sauces, curries and the like in order for one to guess the secret taste. I am having some flashbacks now of some hideous concoctions!
There was all manner of other games my friends and I used to play. My best friend down the road and I would play dress ups, schools, tea parties , Barbie dolls….none of which I have seen my kids play. This may however be more of a gender issue than a sign of the times!
And lets not forget watching a VCR, getting off the couch to change the channel, going to the toilet during the commercial breaks and never ever seeing the end of The sound of Music or The Wizard of Oz because you simply couldn’t stay awake!
Whatever our kids are doing now we need to make sure they still have lots of time to get bored, create fun and enjoy all the freedom that childhood affords.
What games and pastimes did you do as a child that your kids are unlikely to ever do?