one of the things that modern parents have to grapple with is how much screentime to allow your kids, and it’s something i think about often considering that i am absolutely unashamedly addicted to my phone. i mean, i have been kind of addicted to the internet since our first dial up modem was installed way back when i was a tweenager (even though all i did back then was search for random things on Ask Jeeves and build my Geocities page). so i have a very addictive personality when it comes to tech, but when i was a little kid that kind of stuff wasn’t around (bar television) and, like all other kids my age, we played outside ALL day. otherwise we were indoors playing all sorts of made up games. my parents also didn’t base their existence around playing with me or keeping me entertained – my mom used to give me the side-eye if i ever traipsed around proclaiming i was bored, so we always had to create our own entertainment. and it was THE BEST.

but, i think about the “screentime” issue often. how can i stop my own kid from playing on a computer or an iPad (or whatever screen will be the next big thing when he’s old enough to swipe) if my phone is the first and last thing i look at in a day? i might have to put it down and start playing outside the lines again. and having a baby is a pretty good excuse to do so.

here’s some vintage playtime inspiration. all images from the Dutch Nationaal Archief.


  1. Love this! Every time I catch myself thinking “shit, I should be organising a structured craft for the kids” or feel guilty that I just kind of… leave them to play and don’t overly plan EXCITING THINGS, I have to remind myself that that’s exactly what made my childhood so fun – the fact that it wasn’t uber structured or planned out bit by bit by my folks. They just left us to it.

  2. I am petrified of raising kids in rainy old London with small gardens and no street play culture… And the fact that I’m on my phone constantly too is bound to set the wrong example. When I was in Amsterdam last weekend there were these kids playing hide and seek in the street, just off a main road, it was so great!

  3. Cecile Blake Reply

    Our school asks parents that preschool and foundation phase kids have no screen time whatsoever (devices) and tv only on weekends (I may not fully adhere to that one). Takes some getting used to, but we can really see the results! Lovely pics these!

  4. I worry about how we’ll manage outdoor time in a one-bed apartment with not even a balcony, in an urban area :( I was never an outdoorsy kid at all (read indoors a lot), but I’ve been thinking a lot recently about how my primary school still had a lot of remnant bushland on it (bet a new school these days would clear the lot out. There could be snakes! Or falling branches!) and we spent every break puttering around in the vegetation.

  5. There’s a great book about this called “Idle Parenting” by Tom Hodkinson. Makes me nostalgic and very grateful I grew up before screens were the go-to source of entertainment.

  6. If we were to solely go by these pictures only, I guess only white children play!
    Yes, we know, play is good!

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