How to bring back some good, old-fashioned family fun

Grandparents are the best at reminding everyone of how to have fun without technology.

Just as parents – and no doubt plenty of grandparents too – are counting down to the end of the school holidays, having run out of ways to keep the kids busy, The Daily Telegraph has published a list of 20 “old-fashioned hacks” to bring the family together.

It got us thinking about way we entertained ourselves as kids and how our parents entertained us (though it seems there was a whole lot less of that expected back then!) in the days before everyone had a mobile entertainment device to carry around with them. Some of the things we did were so simple, yet we spent weeks of school holidays busily occupied by them.

A lot of the ideas The Daily Telegraph suggests are straight from the average ‘free-range’ childhood of yesteryear, such as playing boardgames and card games, doing puzzles, scooting, cycling or walking as far from home as we were allowed, kicking or throwing balls around, learning songs and dances and putting on ‘shows’, reading books, skipping, playing hopscotch, whizzing around on rollerskates, drawing and painting, using a bug-catcher to find insects to study, building treehouses and forts, making up treasure hunts – all of which require zero parental involvement.

Some of the other suggestions the newspaper makes do (and probably always did) require some adult supervision, but also hark back to pre-smartphone times, such as  heading to the beach to search for shells, playing in the local park, making playdough, cooking easy cakes or biscuits, camping out in the backyard, planting a garden, setting up a slip-and-slide using a tarp and a hose, making an ant-farm, having a slumber party or a movie night, or roasting things over a campfire. 

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And there are plenty more that don’t get a mention in the story, such as playing quoits or horseshoes, making tree swings and rafts, crafting paper planes, playing tag or chasey, mastering hoola-hooping and stilts, and making ‘fishing lines’ with string and a safety pin.

Old Fashioned Families, a site that specialises in suggestions for non-tech family fun, recommends that for activities involving parents and kids, you need to plan ahead, to prevent you from having to pull out the smartphone to Google for ideas.

“Because you are taking a break from technology, you’ll want to be sure that everything is in order before you start,” the site advises. “This will also be a good time to get input from the family to find something everyone will enjoy.”

The next step is to unplug all of your devices. But don’t over-do it, Old Fashioned Families says.

“You don’t have to unplug everything electronic and play cards by candlelight to enjoy your time together–sometimes just turning off the TV or putting phones on vibrate while you try something new is enough.”

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Finally, “no matter what you do, spending time together and having fun is the most important part,” the site says.

Another site says that grandparents are ideally placed to take charge of family fun, because they have the best memories of how it was done before we became reliant on devices to entertain us.

“You don’t have to have a video game console to have fun with your grandkids,” The Spruce says. “Just remember the old-fashioned games and other fun activities that you did as a kid.” 

Does your family still have old-fashioned fun together?