Let’s Not Lose Unstructured Play

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Let’s talk about Pinterest, Facebook Videos and Summer Long PDF activity books for a minute. None of these things are bad, as a kid I used to check out craft books from the library for inspiration (same idea just a little harder to access) but I’m worried that people are losing or thinking that some of us aren’t giving our kids unstructured play time (or that our kids are being entertained all the time).

Unstructured play

(Thanks to my friend Lana for letting me use this perfect photo example)

There is SO much information and inspiration available to us, including this blog. Inspiration on fun activities, crafts, structured learning experiments but I hope you don’t think that we do these all the time (at least we don’t). In fact, for us, the things we post on here are special once a week or once a month type things.

I believe in the benefits of unstructured play and make sure my kids get plenty of it. We were told as kids to “go outside and play” most of our childhood. The fun experiments, crafts or activities were special “sometimes” activities that I’d do with my Mom on an occasional weekend or summer day.

So while I might post fun printables, crafts, games activities to inspire you, please don’t think this is the kind of parent I am 100% of the time. I do not have my kids’ day planned out. My kids get bored (it’s good for them). I’m sure you’ve noticed that most of our crafts are pretty simple anyway, but even still, most days look/looked like this:

Unstructured play

When we go camping the kids have to entertain themselves – exploring, making up games etc.

Unstructured Play

When we’re home there’s usually a point in the day when they are told to “go do something”. As older kids they have free access to our craft closet with duct tape, scissors, recycled materials etc. so they can construct things as they wish. Usually it’s some sort of obstacle course.

American Ninja Warrior inspired backyard obstacle course. A fun outdoor activity for summer nights!

You can google the benefits of unstructured play (there are many) but I mostly just wanted to make sure you knew that this site is like a magazine – entertainment and inspiration. It’s not real life and not an example of what every day looks like around here. We try to have fun and do cool new things together but there are many hours in the day and not all of them look like a Pinterest board (only some of them).

Do your kids get a lot of unstructured play time? Do you think kids these days get less than we did?

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Allison Waken is a wife, mom of boys and Phoenix, AZ native. She has been creating inspiring content for All for the Boys since 2011. Allison loves travel, movies and spending as much time as possible with her family while she can!


  1. Well said! This is why I made an effort to share unplanned activities and projects that filled our every day life. Like you said, parents and kids all need to look at activity books and Pinterest to fuel their ideas or learn new techniques. Humans learned from each others after all.

  2. I stay at home with my kids and they get plenty of unstructured play. I think there are many kids who do get too much structured time and/or not enough time to just be bored or do things by themselves.

    My daughter is now a tween and doesn’t play with toys much so I am trying to find ways for her to occupy her time without just sitting in her room listening to music, but acquire some type of hobby that she can enjoy while listening to music or when she has time to herself.

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