• Erin Colvin

Resurrecting Retro Games For Sheltering In Place Sanity

Updated: Sep 26, 2020

Being deep into the COVID19 crisis now, some families have been, or are starting to experience the "stir crazies" of sheltering in place. The family's normal routine is completely disrupted and you are desperately looking for ways to hold some sort of structure to the days. You might be losing some sleep, worrying about finances, so you're going into each day with a growing sleep debt and fraying nerves. The family data plan is almost exhausted, the kids are pent up, cranky, and argumentative. It feels as though the entire house is in a giant pressure cooker, about to explode. Sound familiar? Rest assured, you are not alone. And you are not without resources. Enter old school activities!

How many of us remember the fun little games we used to play in our back yards, and our school playgrounds at recess? In the days before social media, gaming, and binge watching entire seasons, the activities that children and young adults used , to pass the time, had a different substance. And the bonus was a generous amount of movement and physical activity- something we desperately need in times like these. Even bigger blessings are that these activities are free, and they let you, the parents be involved. You get to interact and bond with your bored little brood and give them excellent coping tools that they can use, and in turn, offer to their future children. Let's start " Kickin' it old school" by breaking it down to indoor and outdoor activities. Alright, get out in the yard ya'll!

Being one of the playground classics (and current competitions) who doesn't remember Jump Rope? It is an amazing source of exercise. Technically, jumping rope can be done solo, but why? If you've got three or more people in your family, you've got a proverbial plyometric party! The object of the game is to jump over the rope, as it swings around you, being turned by your buddies on both ends. There are songs, that many parents (or grandparents) may remember from back in the day, that are chanted to the timing of the rope swing, like: "My mother your mother lives across the street", and "Cinderella dressed in yella' went upstairs to kiss a fella." Anyone can come up with their own songs too. Even modern hits with an appropriate tempo will work just fine; However, it'll be fun to ask the parents to pull some of the classics out of the depths of their gray matter. And when basic Jump Rope gets too easy, you can raise the bar with Double Dutch! What you have now is two ropes swinging together, either toward, or away from each other, at the same time. A definite learning curve, this one! It will require some practice, but it's a fun and healthy way to pass some of the time we have on our hands.

Anyone for Hopscotch? This game began during the Roman empire. It is Old School for even the oldest of the oldies! A "Shooter" of your choosing is thrown into a course of boxes, marked out on the ground with chalk, paint, or even drawn in the dirt. The boxes are either single in a row, or two boxes side by side. The object of the game is to:

a) Throw the Shooter into one box at a time successfully, without it touching any of the box lines, starting from the closest box.

b) To jump through the course, with one foot in each box, jumping over the box that is holding your Shooter, to the end of the course. But your're not done yet!

c) You also need to return through the course, jumping box by box, not touching any lines, stopping to pick up your Shooter on the way back. Doing this successfully, you advance your Shooter to the next box.

Where this game gets tricky is that you cannot jump into any of the boxes containing a Shooter (yours or your opponent's), and you lose your turn if your Shooter or your foot touches any lines. The more players you have, the harder (and more fun) the game becomes. So

grab something aerodynamic that won't roll away, and get hopping!

Oh, it's raining, or too hot you say? No problem! Let's bring the "Retro" party indoors!

One of the funnest and easiest indoor family exercise activities is the good old fashioned dance off! With all players forming a circle, each competitor takes a turn moving into the center,

showing off their mad skills. There really isn't a winner or loser in this game, but there is a great deal of fun to be had by all, learning old and new dance moves while listening to a fun variety of music. And capturing a video of Grandpa krumping could go viral!

Another great indoor activity is having each member of the family doing a different type of "Skit" in a variety show fashion. This can be a solo performance, like playing an instrument, singing a song, or reciting a poem. It can also be a team of "Family Tree Thespians", collaborating on a play or pulling a family "Garage Band" together for a jam session. Other ideas can be a gymnastics routine, a comedy skit, a magic show- the ideas are endless.

Lastly, we are resurrecting a fossil from around 1698. A game known as The Clapping Game, that can be played both in and outdoors. The first documented Clapping Game was called "Pat A Cake", and has delighted many a baby throughout history.

In the game, players clap each other's hands, at different angles, in a pattern, while keeping time with a song. And, like Jump Rope, any song with a catchy tempo can work, but the vintage songs are fun, and are definitely worth learning. You need at least two players, but a circle of "Happy Clappers" is such a blast!

All of these, and many more "Old School" games can be searched online for official rules and practical demonstrations. Variety "Improv" shows can be made up as you go along.

Being under a Shelter In Place mandate does not mean we have to feel "Stuck" in our houses or yards. By getting the whole family involved in activities, we can shift our perspectives from "COVID Captives" to "Creative Collaborators." We can have a blast while getting to bond and make irreplaceable memories with our children and our significant others, regardless of the uncertain times we are facing. By initiating Retro Games, we can show our kids a "Vintage" way to have a great day!

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