Today we are quite fixated on leisure time. Some people think it is important to have different activities to go to and sometimes our leisure activity becomes part of our identities, it defines who we are and which group we belong to. In the past, the boundaries between work and leisure were not as clear. You may have had a number of tasks that you had to perform during the day, some things had to be done at certain times, like milking the cows, while others could be done at any time during the day, like chopping wood. Between these tasks, people took the opportunity to play a little and it was also possible, at times, to mix work and play.


You may know someone who enjoys carpentry, sewing, or hunting in their leisure time. These are examples of things that used to be necessary tasks, but are thought of today, most often, as leisure activities (there are of course those who do these things professionally as well). When the evening came and the outdoor chores were completed, people would sit by the fire and mend tools and clothes, or make something new. At the same time, someone could tell a story or read a passage aloud from a book.


On Sundays they were free, to sanctify the day of rest. A lot of things had to be done anyway if they ran a farm, taking care of the animals, for example. They tried however, to be as free as possible. Many adults probably wanted to take the opportunity to rest while the children wanted to play. They also needed to go to church on Sundays.


Children play and fantasise, which is obvious today and it is important that children have time to play, but that has not always been the case. In the past, children had to contribute to the household in most homes. Children either had a clear part in the day-to-day running of the farm or they had a job elsewhere, but when the opportunity arose, they took the time to play.


Children played role-playing games, built worlds in their imaginations, pretended to be someone else, in the same way as today. The content of the roles was then, as it is now, made up of what is seen, experienced, and heard about. The children then were not chased by zombies, but by trolls, for example. Things to use in the games were easily created by pretending. A stick can be an infinite number of other things, as long as you can imagine it. A piece of firewood can be a great doll to have as a baby, some stones can become a castle; just as today.


Having as many toys and belongings as we do today was unusual. During the 20th century, there has been a constant increase. There has always been a difference, based on how well off the family is. In families with plenty of money, children had more and more advanced toys.


During the 19th century and further back in time, most people made a good deal of what they needed themselves. This included toys. An adult or an older sibling could craft toys for the younger children.


Nils works at the sawmill six days a week. He is free on Sundays which is when he takes the opportunity to do things that he enjoys. In the winter, he likes to ice skate with a pair of ice skates that he made himself. In the summer, he and his friends often go swimming.



Mark divides his time between school and the shop. He plays as often as he can with the other children in the neighbourhood.



Maria has lots of free time. Since she is the youngest of her siblings, she does not have to help so much on the farm, but she, of course, has some chores that she must do aside from school. Maria is also learning to play the piano.



Quite recently, Elin started working as a yarn-spinner on the farm. Of course, she sometimes plays with the other children on the farm, but she has not really come to terms with her new life. She is feeling homesick.



Theresia's days are quite varied because the family moves around so much. Sometimes she has a lot to do and sometimes she can be quite idle. She is good at starting bigger games that everyone can take part in.



Lars-Anders' days are consumed with following the adults and helping when he can, staying out of the way when necessary, and taking the opportunity to play in between.