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Childhood Pastimes without the Technology: Standing the Test of Time

We all love our technology and we know it can keep little minds quiet stimulated for certain periods of time. But we must always ensure that it is just that. Only for certain periods of time. Time limits on the use of technology can be the very best way to help them regulate their behaviours later, and helps prevent nagging and fights every time you ask them to put away a device.

I find with my little kids, the very best way to make these time limits work is to give them a warning so they can finish off what they are doing or complete the last level. If I have something else ready for them to go on with, they can turn their focus to the next activity and not be left crying over what they have lost.  In saying that, I know that I have often been guilty of just one more scroll, just one more email, just one more website. I often find myself lost in the home furnishing sections of sites like Super Amart’s, which leaves me once again having to explain the extra cushions to a husband who just doesnt understand their purpose. That is the nature of the technology. It has a tendency to make time fly!

So I know that if I want my kids to take time away from the screens and gadgets, then I too need to help encourage and provide a balance of other ways to pass the time.

And you know what? There are still some games and pastimes that kept me entertained as a child that are continuing to stand the test of time.

Water fights, Sprinklers and a Good Old Soak

There is nothing like water to keep kids occupied for hours! I have so many memories of running through the sprinklers as the only means of staying cool on a hot summers day. Water restrictions and climate pending, this is still a pastime that knows no age barrier. Water guns and balloons may be a little more sophisticated these days, but the premise is the same. Sunshine, outdoors, lots of water and plenty of squeals!

Getting Back to Nature

When I was growing up we were fortunate enough to back on to acres and acres of paddock (now a whopping big freeway!) My best friend and I spent hours out in those paddocks, collecting pine cones, riding bikes, even being encouraged by my brother to try and ride bare back the wild horses that roamed (not the best idea by the way!) Whilst my kids aren’t blessed with these expanses of land, it is great to take opportunities for kids to explore whenever they can. I generally find this is easier to achieve on holidays or visiting new places. A recent trip to the Grampians provided a great backdrop for making cubby houses and rainy days at the beach mean throwing stones in the water, exploring rock pools and of course collecting shells.


 Just Reading

 Whilst many of us have changed the way we read books with e-readers and the like, there is nothing quite the same as curling up with a good book or cuddling with a child on the couch flicking the pages of a well worn favourite. I love reliving with my younger boys some of the books their older brothers loved. Books I read as a child have certainly stood the test of time and always bring back great memories. My 4 year old was surprised I was already well versed in Mr Men books and an old collection of Little Golden Books. We know that games and apps that promote reading can be educational but we know the most benefit comes from the interactive elements of books and games whether they be electronic or not. There is nothing quite as interactive as sitting with your child and reading, asking questions, answering questions and enjoying the bonding experience.  


Imaginative Play

Whilst my boys are great at making up games, when it comes to the older boys it generally needs to include a ball of some sort! But I have to say the rules are pretty intricate, sometimes I have no idea what is going on! There is nothing like listening to the made up games of little kids though, as they decide who is to be the boy/girl/baby or King, where they will live and who is going to marry who! I had some great dress ups as a kid that my friend and I would lavish ourselves in and play ‘ladies’ who led lives of dances and high tea…so much like my life now!

Simple Games

Games like hide and seek, chasey, elastics and jacks are all games that used up plenty of my playtime as a child and games that I have enjoyed introducing to my own kids. I don’t think they have spent quite as many hours as I did with these types of games, although running races are a hot favourite in my household! Playing hide n seek with the 4 year old is amusing to say the least. You can rest assured any place you find to hide will be the very next place he chooses when it is his turn. And usually for the following turn as well. And I have learnt not to find a really good hiding place as he will more than likely get bored of looking and settle in to some other game without telling you.


Whilst we love the flashing lights, the quick responses, the immediate satisfaction of technology and computer games, we need to remember to balance it out with pastimes that are easy to do, cheap, fun, good for all ages and with a proven track record to stand the test of time.

What games do your kids still enjoy that kept you amused as a child?

This post was sponsored by Super Amart.

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This Post Has 14 Comments

  1. Emily

    Just Reading. It’s so much more than just reading! My almost 4yo loves to curl up with a book and I hope she still loves it as she gets older. It’s such a gift to be able to do that.

    Great list. And yes, I definitely limit screen time. TV gets a look-in twice a week, and I’m so glad we don’t have an iPad! Until the kids are in bed, when I think dagnammit, I wish we had an iPad.

    1. Martine Oglethorpe

      Yes Emily it is much more than just reading! I hope at least some of my boys take after me and my love of books 🙂

  2. We have always set time for technology but recently we have let that strictness slip a bit and this has been a good reminder. Having an activity to engage them with straight after the time up is a good idea. Growing up I used to love making cubbies and having imaginative play in them once constructed. Unfortunately we don’t have a big yard here for our boys to explore, which I’m starting to see they would really benefit from.
    Thanks for reminding me about some of the old school ways of play… they really are so much better than a screen!

    1. Martine Oglethorpe

      Thanks Vicki. We all need reminders sometimes. Just need to ensure we help provide some balance.

  3. Ai Sakura

    My little girl does like to play with her doll house a lot.. making up stories and plays. Love it. Whenever we have time during the weekends we try to go out as it’s more often that she wants to play with her iPad when we’re stuck at home.

    1. Martine Oglethorpe

      I aways loved a dolls house (later the barbie townhouse took over!) Great for imaginary games too

  4. We spent the morning at the park – it was great. I do love devices but admittedly it’s when I need to do things without them – I’m always pushing my kids outside! As we speak they are at the park with dad flying kites! x

    1. Martine Oglethorpe

      Yep, nothing beats some outside play! Even better if dad is entertaining them! 🙂

  5. Grace

    It was drizzly and miserable the other day and the twinions were at home from daycare due to their colds. At about 2pm (after some time with technology play), I drew them a nice warm bath and they loved it. It made witching hour a lot less painful with one thing already done so it was a win-win!

    1. Martine Oglethorpe

      Great win win Grace! Cant go wrong when getting play and getting a chore done!

  6. Kathy

    I will have to be more structured with technology limits – I usually do the whole ‘you can have one more game’ but it is hard for them not to feel like it is some kind of punishment to finish up. But we do enjoy lots of other games – Mr 4 loves us getting down on the floor with his trains and blocks, and we are big on staging mini-concerts too, with Miss almost 11 such a dancer. Sadly the latest clean-out of her room has seen us dispense with the dress-up box, but she still comes into my closet for some try-ons.

    1. Martine Oglethorpe

      Thanks Kathy, it is tricky trying to take away the devices but I guess the earlier we start the better the chance they will realise it is just what happens, and not so much a punishment. And having something for them to go on with always helps! And mums try ons are always the best dress ups!

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  8. Anne Gregor

    Nice article.

    A great reminder for all of us parents that there are a lot of things we can do to keep our kids pre occupied rather than letting them play with electronic gadgets on their own.

    Nothing beats traditional toys and activities!


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