I grew up in this town. We moved here when I was 8 and the majority of my early childhood was spent in what we still call “the big house.” We lived on 5 acres of sage brush. We spent a TON of time outside.
We built houses out of tumble weeds and made little trails through the chico, pretending like we were cars speeding around corners. We had a little puddle out back that was deep enough to float a blow up raft in and we spend hours paddling around in it. Whenever we were angry, we “ran away” across the field to a neighbors house who would give us a cookie and call our mother to let her know where we were.
We road bikes up and down the dirt road, visiting neighbors and speeding past a house where there was a mean dog that chased us every time. We named him Saddam Hussein. Politically incorrect? Maybe. Our dogs name was George Bush (the first one).
The one time I remember our parents really playing with us, not just taking us somewhere or facilitating play, but actually playing with us, was the Family Olympics where the got cards with numbers and kept score and we kids participated in foot races around the yard and jumping contests and ice skating on the puddle. It was amazing.
Once, when my parents had a bunch of friends over and the kids were left to their own devices, we used our kite string to make a giant spider web around the whole living room.
Truth: Childhood doesn’t have to be perfect and your kids don’t need to be entertained by you. Let them enjoy their imaginations. Let them come up with their own stuff. They won’t die or be stunted.