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Do you sometimes sit and wonder how kids managed to entertain themselves in the days before screens? Or how parents managed to do things like make dinner, do laundry, or take a shower without the kids destroying the house?

I do, let me tell you, because whenever I assume my kids can behave themselves for 10 minutes alone, I am always disappointed. And usually in for a bunch more work.

So let me tell you, I was all ears when hearing kids did actually find ways to entertain themselves in the days before the Internet and television.

5. Kick the Can

Photo Credit: Flickr,Orin Zebest

It’s sort of like a miserable version of hide-and-seek – kids would hide, It would find them and put them in “jail” behind a can. If one of the kids still free managed to run up and kick the can (yelling “all ye, all ye, out and free!”) without being tagged, then everyone went free while It replaced the can and began anew.

Until he was like f*ck this and went home, I imagine.

4. The Trussed Fowl

A 1907 book of party games described this game as follows:

“Trussing consists of firmly tying the wrists and ankles, bringing the elbows down below the knees, and slipping a stick under along one elbow, under both knees, and over the other elbow.”

Then, two trussed children lay down foot-to-foot and attempted to flip the other over using only their toes.

Nothing about this seems enjoyable or fun, unless you’re the adult watching two kids who can’t escape struggle on the ground.

This was definitely invented by parents who needed a break!

3. Dog Fight

Photo Credit: Google Books

Two people on all fours strapped belts around their necks and yanked at each other while the other players watched and barked encouragement.

I’m not sure what the object was, but I mean. I wouldn’t mind seeing this happen.

2. Catch and Pull

Photo Credit: Google Books

Kids in gym class would divide into teams on either side of a line, then run at each other and grab any available body part. They would then use said body part to drag the opposing player to your side of the line until only one remained.

Sort of like dodgeball, but more touchy-feely.

1. Hot Cockles

In the Victorian Era, a group would gather, and one member would lay his or her head in another’s lap while the other party-goers took turns hitting them from behind. The object was to guessing who was beating your a**, and if you did, I assume you got to leave before things escalated uncomfortably.

This is the most Victorian thing I’ve ever heard of and it’s definitely going in a period romance novel someday.

I’m going to suggest some of these to my kids just to see their faces!

Have your kids gone to great lengths to combat boredom without electronics? Share with us in the comments!


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