10 Ways to Give Your Kid a 1970’s Kind of Summer

Summer’s basically here. The Pinterest pages, Facebook feeds, and family magazine features are loaded up with all the fun-filled activities you should do with your kids this summer.

AS.IF. As if we need more activities. MORE I say!

As if I am sitting here, ok, really laying here in my end of school year coma, thinking, “OMG! I CANNOT wait to tackle that homemade moon sand recipe. We will dye ourselves with the skin of organic vegetables, then shape our homemade sand into a perfect replica of the Millenium Falcon! ” Or, “Why yes, I am going to schlep four kids to that new science museum two hours away, where we will eagerly wander through the exhibits,  each completing the 10 page scavenger hunt I created last night. Then we will come home and ‘discuss’ at great length the scientific theories we learned, because — brace yourself — what if we don’t keep our minds active ALL summer?”

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

GASP!  Wait, hold it! We must, just MUST go to the dollar store and buy 125 pool noodles to construct a backyard water park! We will invite the neighborhood kids over, serve vegan popsicles, watermelon chunks cut out like dolphins, and a vegetable crudité platter shaped like a palm tree. And what summer pool party would be complete without nitrate, skin, meat, additive, and taste-free hot dogs on gluten-free buns covered in artisanal ketchup?

I’m done. Sort of like I how I was done with the school year, but I am already done with summer. And by done, I mean I am done with all the forced smile-inducing, uber planned and supervised, over-the-top summer life experiences I am supposed to provide for my kids. You know what I want my kids to experience this summer? The same type of summer I would have experienced in the late 1970’s. The exact same one. I survived it, and they will too. As a matter of fact, it must have been pretty memorable, because 30 years later I can tell you exactly what it entailed. It entailed FUN. Fun we made all on our own. What. A. Concept.

So, I present you with my top 10 ways to give your 2014 kids a 1970’s kind of summer…

1. Make them play outside. Like all day. All.Damn.Day. Hot? Drink from the hose. Run through the sprinklers. Swim in the pool until your hair feels like straw, turns green, and the bottom of your feet are calloused from the bottom of the pool. Search for ladybugs, play hide ‘n seek between the houses, run down the street gutters after a rain storm. Read under a tree. I hear this lady named Judy Blume writes good stuff.

Love Boat

2. Let them watch TV. Plenty of it. But only the TV Land channel. I want my kids to watch The Love Boat, The Carol Burnett Show, The Jefferson’s, Charlie’s Angels, My Three Sons, The Bionic Man, $100,000 Pyramid, and my favorite, Hart to Hart. Seriously, what little girl in the late 70’s didn’t want to be an amateur detective married to the CEO of Hart Industries, driving around in a yellow Mercedes-Benz SL Roadster, while sporting a matching lilac pant suit and perfectly quaffed butterfly-winged wavy brown hair?

ice-cream Image via Shutterstock

3. Eat whatever you  want, and/or whatever can find. There will be no more pantries full of organic vegetable chips, and non-GMO graham crackers. No more refrigerators full of anti-pesticide fruit, free range eggs, and cold pressed juice. This will be the summer of Frito-Lay and Red Dye #5. I want to see my kids’ reaction when I tear open a tiny envelope of cherry Kool-Aid, sprinkle it into a BPA-laden plastic pitcher, dump four cups of regular, granulated, white, and maybe even generic sugar (not raw, stevia, or agave), then add water from the tap, and voila! You are hydrated! I will be over here drinking a Tab. Lunch will be fried bologna and a blue can of Planter’s Cheese Balls, and for dinner we will pile in the car and go pick up a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken, a styrofoam quart of mashed potatoes,  and OMG, dessert will be pineapple upside cake! Made from canned pineapples in…wait for it…syrup!

movie-day Image via Shutterstock

4. Send them to the movies for the entire day. I will drop you off around 11 and pick you up for dinner. It’s real simple. You sneak from one theater to the next. Nobody cares.


5. Spend three nights in a row at your best friend’s house. No, you don’t have to call to check in every hour. And yes, it’s totally ok their parents will be at work and nobody will be home all day. It will give you plenty of time for #1, 2, and 3.


6. Make stuff, like from stuff you find. No trips to Hobby Lobby for pre-cut, pre-stuck, pre-fabricated crafts. Find crap in the garage and assemble it into something you can play with. No, you can’t Google how to do it. Ropes are fun.


7. Have them put on a talent show. A  real, genuine, sing and dance and entertain the hell out of me talent show.  I promise I won’t upload it to Youtube or share it on Facebook. I pinky swear. No, there is no theme, no requirements, no directions, no anything. No, there is no right way to do it. You have an imagination. Please use it.


8. Play this until you want to throw it against the wall, or smash into 1000 pieces. It’s the original train your brain app.


9. Build a fort in the backyard. No, I am not gonna help. Yes, you can use the $125 Pottery Barn Kids duvet cover from your bed. I don’t care anymore. Making a memory trumps 400 thread count cotton.

fireflyImage via Shutterstock

10. Finally, learn to find the amazing in the ordinary. Trust me. You will need this skill in your 40’s. I pinky swear.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Happy summer!

Related post: 6 Fantasy Summer Camps Every Mom Needs

About the writer


Melissa L. Fenton is a mom to 4 sons, cookbook hoarder, yarn bomber, wannabe pastry chef and carb lover, mother runner, adjunct librarian, sometimes a humor writer. Find her at 4boysmother, on Twitter as @melissarunsaway and on Facebook.

From Around the Web


Josh 4 months ago

I also could find no new way of commenting. But, having lived through all 10 70s summers as a kid, I can say that I LOVED this. Just a couple of things though. It was the “Bionic Woman” or the “Six Million Dollar Man.” Any kid, especially a guy, that was 8 or 9 the year it came out will tell you that 😉 Also, TV Land doesn’t really show any of the old stuff anymore. For that you need “ME-TV,” “Antenna TV” or “Cozi” all of them are on most basic cable providers.

Lastly, please add one more social media platform to your (mental) list. I am the co-founder of a small site called “Moptwo” that does for articles what sites like Pinterest and Instagram does for graphics/photos. For that reason, we are PERFECT for bloggers. Like I said, we’re small, just my best friend and I at this point, but we have about 16k articles on the site that have over 3.1 million article views. So please take a look. If you have any questions, or would like me to walk you through the site, please email me: joshn@moptwo.com. Now would Mark Zuckerberg or Ben Silbermann do that for you? :-) By the way, I saw this article on our site:


M. 4 months ago

I get that you’re promoting an unstructured summer, and that IS the epitome of my 1970’s summer memories. But…the “nobody cares” in #4, and “I don’t care anymore” in #9 – pretty much sum up this whole article.
My Mom in the 70’s NEVER would’ve let us run from movie to movie, w/o supervision. Are you OK with your kids watching rated R movies?
It reads more like You want a summer vacation from parenting & watching out for your kids. In which case, please don’t try to sell this to younger, more impressionable Moms, who weren’t around in the 70’s.
Thanks, and enjoy your summer!
a Mom for 25 Years

M. 4 months ago

I Love this Jenny! I didn’t read “I don’t care anymore” in any of it!
:) Mom for 25 years

Zira Michelle Brinton 4 months ago

3 and up should be good.

Sharon Martinez 4 months ago

I cannot believe how you described every single one of my 70’s activities. Drinking from the water hose to doing talent shows. Thank you for reminding me about my memorable 70’s summer!

Samantha 4 months ago

I love this! My ’80’s and ’90’s summers were like this. I want my kid to experience the same joys!

sally 4 months ago

Oh my god, I was waiting for the, “I’m a single mom…comment.”

Marie Shelly 4 months ago

I had to share this with you because our take is so very similar right down to the pinky swear. This is something I shared on my blog yesterday from my collection Life Beyond Words, published last May. Just thought you might enjoy. We have a very similar viewpoint, and I even dabble in sarcasm from time to time myself. Keep up the great writing. I enjoy reading your work! http://wp.me/p5ub4E-a0

Bernadette Flaim 4 months ago

Thank you SO much – this also describes perfectly a kid from the 1960’s kind of summer – except perhaps playing Simon Says. Instead – by day, we would have played endless games of Solitaire ( yes, with a real deck of cards) — by night? As many games of ” Red Light Green Light” ( yes, in the dark) until our mothers flicked the porch light on and off, calling us in for the night. Beautiful, simple childhood memories – priceless . . .

Rachael 4 months ago

Sensitive much? In any case, I think the satire and the entire point of this article went way over your head.

Courtney 4 months ago

I loved summers like this and I do the same with my kids with the exception of having them go out side all day. In AZ it’s just too hot at 110+ degrees. Otherwise this is the best kind of summer fun!

Jill 4 months ago

This described my school-age summers to a T! Our neighborhood was packed with kids, and the only time we saw our mothers during the day was when it was time for lunch (bologna sandwiches, PB&J or Spaghetti-Os), if we had to use the bathroom, and dinner. We walked to our school’s pool and swam until we looked like raisins, played in the nearby park, went “fishing” in the creek at the end of the street, put on talent shows, jumped our bikes off of homemade ramps (using that junk from the garage), and caught lightning bugs in the evening. As long as there were other kids with us, our parents let us play and explore on our own, and occasionally dropped us off at the roller rink, the bowling alley, or $2 movie theater where we could spend the afternoon watching Disney movies. Although there were the occasional scrapes, stings, and stomachaches (from eating our entire haul of candy from our 7-Eleven runs) we kids survived each summer, and are better for it. Thanks for bring back all those precious memories, and then some!

Shelly 4 months ago


Shelly 4 months ago

**CAN** take care of themselves…sorry… mis-typed…

Shelly 4 months ago

I do believe she wasn’t talking about kids that can’t take care of themselves… otherwise would be stupid…

Harmony lee 4 months ago

What a great read!!! i think I need this kind of summer too…

DocD 4 months ago

Have those shows aren’t even on TV land anymore. Also at the end of the summer your kids will be fat, full of poison and chemicals and missing half their teeth. Im sure the teachers will be thrilled when they show up in the fall with adhd. Maybe we can also enjoy the cool stuff about 70’s summers like riding around without seatbelts and car seats and having kids picked up by pedos. Woohoo!

Amanda 4 months ago

You just nailed my summers growing up….especially the blue can planters….yep. I think I spent my whole summer riding my bike up and down the street and eating french fries. GREAT MEMORIES!

Alithea 4 months ago

I love this article so much. Thank you.

mal 4 months ago

This is my kids’ EVERY summer since they were old enough to play outside alone. Plus drive-in movies on the weekends with as many kids as we can cram in the car and always having cash handy for the ice cream truck.

Lisa Ann Scott 4 months ago

Lol while drinking a Tab ! Snort !

Sara 4 months ago

This was the 90s too! This was my childhood.

Heather 4 months ago

Loved this. LOVED. I grew up in the 70s, too, and it was all Matchbox cars on roads we built in the dirt under the bushes beside our house; “carnivals” we created by turning our banana-seat bikes upside down and turning the pedals so the wheels were like a ferris wheel; drive in movies where we sweated our asses off and got eaten alive by mosquitos; riding out Big Wheels up and down the street while our parents sat on the porch, played cards and drank beers with the neighbors while listening to a static”y” FM radio; catching lightening bugs and (wait for it) ripping the light off and making glow in the dark rings and bracelets (I’d probably go to jail now for doing that LOL); roasting marshmallows on a stick over a charcoal grill after we ate hotdogs and hamburgers on white rolls while slurping grape or orange soda; watching Tom & Jerry and Bugs Bunny in the afternoon if it was too hot and my mom was sick of listening to us complain; sneaking cigarettes from our mom or grandmother’s purses and coughing our way through learning how to smoke. Summers in the seventies were the shit. Thank you for giving me something awesome to remember.

Kim 4 months ago

Pre-planning everything and trying to stop your kids from being bored is taking away their chance to learn problem solving skills and telling them they aren’t capable of figuring things out. You’re bored- use your imagination and find something new to do- and that’s not binge watch Netflix. I spent my summers running around the woods and swimming in a river. We didn’t have a tv for 2 months. When it was time to go to the store we always had a hard time finding matching shoes for each of us, washing off the Kool-Aid stains and brushing our knotted hair- and those were the best summers ever.

Donna 4 months ago

I REALLY miss Planter’s Cheese Balls! I don’t know what kind of cheese-crack they used, but we need to start a petition to get it back!

Kristen L. 4 months ago

Thank you for this! It amazes me how kids today can’t find things to do on their own! When my 8 & 9 year olds have friends over I open the door to the yard or point to the playroom. Don’t look to me for direction! But at some friend’s homes every minute is planned. They come home with brownies and art projects. BTW I was obsessed with Hart to Hart as a kid!

Cami 4 months ago

Did you really say the Bionic MAN?!?
It was the Bionic WOMAN & the Six Millon Dollar Man.

Otherwise, I enjoyed the article.

Miyo 4 months ago

Honestly – if your kids are over 10 years old and don’t know how to make a blanket fort or play outside, you’ve probably done something wrong.
And really, I would think that the ‘fun’ of ones summer was judged by how much fun the kids were having – not what activities they were doing based on a scale of what YOU thought was fun when you were their age. The world is changing, and our children with it, and if you’ve been dragging them to a museum and they’re not having fun with it and you hate it – why are you doing it in the first place? I mean, I grew up with video games aplenty, and so has my kid – and we still love going camping, playing with the sprinkler, taking big walks in the woods, making a fort, and all kinds of outside activities.

Debbie 4 months ago

I am also a product of the 70’s summers and the 60’s summers. My children were raised in the 80’s and 90’s on these summers. My grandchildren on the other hand are constantly told; don’t get dirty, stay in the back yard only (these have 6 foot privacy fences so no one can see our precious darlings outside), No! you cannot get on the swing set by yourself, Please stay out of the water hose (the idea of even asking my child to stay out of something hahaha). I remind my children, who are now in their 30’s, you grew up all over the neighborhood at other friends houses, you played in the cul-de-sac, which wasn’t our backyard, if you weren’t exposed to dirt when you were young, you would be like your cousins, constantly at the doctor or sick. If you fell off the swing or slide, wrecked your bike, or slid into the pavement (my response: No bones no blood, go play. If blood was involved: give them a wet paper towel and tell them hold it there ’til it stops bleeding or they get bored, whichever, comes first). My children went to the doctor for shots nothing else. Their immune systems worked very well. Why? they were exposed to dirt and germs. Their cousins: GOD FORBID!!!!!!. I, too, was a single mother. My children only went with me when I wanted them to go. Our neighborhood moms got together and traded turns with childcare. Hmm, I wonder if that is because we were a product of the 70’s summer.

Allison 4 months ago

Sounds like my kids’summer anyway. Throw in girl scout/cub scout camp (which I did in the 80s), and your list is what we’re doing!

Karen 4 months ago

That IS the kind of summers we have! It’s amazing how not having money to spend on your kids will make you want to spend time with your kids

Lea Tucker 4 months ago

Loved this. My niece, who want even alive in the seventies, shared this. So glad as it brought back great memories and I am now prepared for the grandkids.

Julia 4 months ago

You had me until grocery store. I’m no helicopter parent, but I’ve got to take my 2-year old to the grocery store with me, if only to give my husband (the stay-at-home parent in our family) some “me” time.

Beverly 4 months ago

Also, they will get bored. Boredom doesn’t kill, it inspires creativity.

Mary Kolk 4 months ago

Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Being the mother of 5 beautiful children who grew up in the worlds best neighborhood with wonderful kids as neighbors (who were more like family than neighbors), I relish what you wrote here. It’s as if you were there with us during those wonderful Birchwood years! :) The smile on my face could light up the room!

John Nation 4 months ago

Yes, I second Dirk Pitt Jr’s question. What age range are these comments inteded for? Are these tips intended for use all summer? Do you adjust for climate, economic, social zones, etc? Also what brand of generic sugar do you recommend?

Kind Regards

Carly 4 months ago

I went EVERYWHERE with my mom. Grocery store, laundromat, doctor appts, and when I had a day off from school? She brought me to her job (showroom decorator) where I sat quietly with my bag of snacks and a stack of paper & pens. She was a single mom struggling to make money and couldn’t afford a day off other than when I was really sick. But, I was a rare child, I was quiet, entertained myself, and didn’t throw fits or scream bloody murder for a toy. Also, i was in the sprinkler alllllll summer long lol

Rhiannon S. 4 months ago

I absolutely love this list and agree with it. Simon Says made me laugh, I understand that feeling of frustration.

I want my kids to be kids. I want to have to clean the ring of dirt out of my tub after they’re bathed each night.

I really like the idea of a talent show. I may have to invite some of my daughter’s friends over and task them with creating a talent show to present to the parents and let them have at it with the planning.

That sounds like a fun day to me!

Ruth 4 months ago

Perfect. Plus it made me tear up (freakin’ pushin’-50 hormones >:( )

Erica 4 months ago

Loved the article! It sends me right back to my childhood in the 80s. On a side note, quaffed is actually spelled coiffed.

Michelle Lee-Reid 4 months ago

As a mom of three now-teenagers and a teacher, gosh yes–let them play!! When my three were younger, I enrolled them in a few park programs–a week of ballet or art or T-ball once a week–and that was the extent of the structure. During the school year their days are highly structured and they sit in a desk and work their brains very hard. During the summer, they need to play!! Go outside and find worms under rocks, run though the sprinkler, play with the kids down the alley, cover the sidewalks with sidewalk chalk, and eat drippy popsicles. Not have discussions about scientific things they learned at the museum–ugh! And not always doing things with their parents, either. They need to use their imaginations and sing and dance and run and climb trees. And a vacation with their family is always a plus.

Jenny 5 months ago

It’s such a relief to know there is still mothers out there like me. I cant wait till summer when there is no schedule to follow and I dont make plans. We just do and have fun explore and camp out in the yard. I ship the kids outside after breakfast, they can play out there in their Jammies if they want and I dont see much of them till night or when they decide they are hungry

Dona Haggerty 5 months ago

All 7 of our kiddos (ages 35-20) are grown and married and some have kiddos of their own. Your words here made.me.smile!!! All I can add is HECK YEAH!!! Thanks for your encouragement to young moms out there!

Mandy Kasparek 5 months ago

Today we are seeing the results of #3 in the form of chronic disease, child diabetes, ADHD, etc. So number three would not be an option for my kids…however I fully agree with you that some people over load their kids day with activities. They learn imagination through play. http://Enroll.mission43.com

lacey 5 months ago

Enjoyed this so much,brought back great memories, thank you

Kell 5 months ago

I loooove everything about your parenting style and this article ROCKS! I’m taking notes…pinky swear hehe. I just wish food was as simple as it was in the 70s. It’s sad that we have to be complete hipster freaks to protect our fa

Jen 5 months ago

Tell it like it is sista! Omg I was crying I laughed so hard! You hit the nail on the head. You’ve said whats been in my heart. Kids need to be kids! Thanks so much for this article. Lets get back to the basics!!!

P Kilpatrick 5 months ago

My brother and I grew up at the end of a dirt road in a small town. We had 7 cousins within 300 yards. We did stuff that our parents didn’t find out about until we were adults…best childhood EVER!! The best gift our parents gave us was staying out of our way. We learned to get along, share, and be creative. No animals were injured in the making of those memories!

Dawnm88 5 months ago

Love, love, love this article. Did ALL of those every summer as a kid and loved it. Best days of my life.

Heather 5 months ago

If they were old enough to be left at home then what would the commenter be annoyed by when referring to “not wanting to deal with your kid” ? She’s meaning kids. I sure hope this mother of three to whom has a spouse that works around the clock ends up at the next store she’s at with all of my KIDS :)

Bob 5 months ago

Good memories. Please correct the typo of “The Jefferson’s”. Nothing belongs to a single Jefferson. Where do people get the idea that apostrophe ‘s’ is the plural for people’s last names?

mary 5 months ago

You forgot flashlight tag till midnight and catching fireflies all night, putting jar next to bed. Love this!

sueinjuneau 5 months ago

Forts. They must build forts, from found materials. Dangerous, secret forts.

Karen Stephens 5 months ago

I can find no way to share a new post. But my message is embracing every child you encounter. My children and now my my grandchildren embraces humanity. I believe this is our responsibility. And possibly a time to move forward..

Pak 5 months ago

This made my day! You read my mind and gave me wonderful memories of being a child and growing up in the 70s and 80s. Oh the good ol’ days!! My kids love it when I tell them stories of the things we did, the fun we had and none of it required electronics!

PhilPDX 5 months ago

This article is so good on so many levels…thank you! Found this via a share in my FB feed. :-) I was 7 in the summer of 1970. And Simon rocks! The game with lights, not the harsh judge on reality shows…

jocelyn wolters 5 months ago

Will you be my best friend? Because this is straight from my heart! Now, to avoid the pill-popping mommas who will be itching to call dcfs for allowing my kids a summer where they can really learn!

Catherine 5 months ago

Yes, do number 4 and five if you want your kids to get molested, raped, or pornographized. Seriously people, we don’t live in the 1970’s anymore! There were plenty of pervs around then, but now it’s a whole different level. I am all for summers full of hours spent doing nothing but making popsicle stew to sell to unsuspecting neighbors as “lemonade”, and laying in the grass finding shapes in the clouds till you’re so bored your brain hurts. But to leave kids without any parental supervision for hours on end especially at a public place like a movie theater is to stick a sign on their backs saying, “hey pedophiles, I have no one to protect me.” And wanna know what they’ll be doing over at their friends’ houses for three days without parental supervision that they couldn’t have done in the 1970’s? Learning all kinds of ways to be filthy on the internet. Because I guaranty you, their best friend has it, and without supervision that’s the first place they’ll go…and they won’t just be looking at Disney websites.
The fact is times have changed since the ’70’s and it is a scarier less safe world out there. While I am the first one to admit there is lots to be said for less cramped summers with time kids spend learning to entertain themselves, please, PLEASE, for the love of your children, be aware of what your kids are doing, who they are doing it with, and make sure there is a responsible adult to watch over them at all times.

Dell Corley 5 months ago

my husband and I laughed so! We can relate. I am a 53 year old who remembers doing all these things! Thanks for jogging our memories! Enjoy childhood while you have it-unplug!

leo 5 months ago

OH what memories of this type of summer-getting up at 7am getting force feed burnt over sugared oatmeal then jumping on my bike and running off to who knows where as we lived 100 miles from nowhere then take a left for 20 more miles, building stick forts in the woods,making and sometimes even eating mud pies which if i remember correctly tasted better than the oatmeal i had for breakfast.
Had my trusty stick for a gun,sword, i think it morphed into anything i wanted or needed,disturbing an ants nest getting stung by sweat bees,laying down in a meadow feeling the sun on my face and remembering the big Invasion of aliens i stopped then come home around 8pm covered in blood sweat and mud then showering off with the garden hose outside grab a PB&J sammy and sleeping in the back of an ole stepside ford-I was 8- summer of 1973.

monica 5 months ago

I Love this list! When did drinking from the house become taboo? How is it different with the exception of dirt from your tap? … most lines in houses these days ate plastic anyways. When I was a kid we left the house right after sat morning cartoons and didn’t come back unless we were bleeding (not scratched but stitch needing) or we knew it was dinner time. .. then back out. Most days u have to drag my 7yr old outside. .. this list is what his summer will be with old fashion camping trips dirt and bugs included!

Rhiannon 5 months ago

I LOVE this…like seriously. love. this. It’s all so very true and pertinent.
Some of you really need to get a grip. Stop taking things so seriously and literally and just take a friggin chill pill. I’m guessing you’re the ones that need to let go of the reigns the most. She wasn’t giving anyone orders, for goodness sake. She didn’t tell you that you had to do these things. She beyond the black and white letters and let your kids be free and just play and enjoy no structure. Yikes!

Rhiannon 5 months ago

Are you serious?? You’ve COMPLETELY missed the point if you are asking about ages. It’s about letting your kids be kids and be free and creative and to just have spontaneous fun!

Nancy 5 months ago

As much as a love the spirit behind this, and even tho I don’t have kids, just thought I would weigh in. GMO’S were not a thing in foods in the 70’s, so eating non GMO foods would be the most accurate. Also, I was an 80’s-90’s kid, so it doesn’t count, but the few times I had kool-aid, I hated it, and my folks weren’t into letting us stay at friends houses much, esp. Not if the parents weren’t there. Also, the shows she listed, we’re more age appropriate for older kids..like.teens…lol anyway. I will slowly walk away now…. 😛

Shelley Sessions 5 months ago

I was wandering around the neighborhood on my big wheel by age 5, so start there! By age 8 I was gone for the day on my 10 speed until dark.

Ruthann 5 months ago

Best article I’ve read in ages, thank you for the smiles and memories! I grew up this way…survived even thrived! Very seldom got in trouble because we kind of made it up until the street lights came on and we knew to run home! Kool Aid as hair dye wasn’t well-received…other that that we rocked our Summers exactly as you describe!

Chelsea 5 months ago

My mother had a giant sesame street bag filled with all odds and ends! We called it the craft bag! It had string, pom poms, hemp, paper bits, buttons, pipe cleaners – really just bits of everything. I’d take it out and grab some scissors and glue and just go at it! The scraps go back in the bag for another day. Nothing like digging through it and finding the perfect piece!

Robert Gates 5 months ago

I think this is absolutely brilliant! We long for a much simpler time, yet this is how we can get it. Let kids be kids and stop with all the new parent lead parties that are expensive and not fun. The only thing I would add is kickball, wiffleball, and any other ball games you can think of. Kids, get out and just play.

Jenny Schwartz 5 months ago

Great article! We are totally on the same page. Check out Equestrian Neightion for ways to encourage kids to Get Up, Get Out, and Get Jumping. Nothing like good old fashioned horseplay, which ironically seems new again.

Fiona 5 months ago

Absolutely brilliant. One of our regular summer activities is a bucket of water and paintbrushes, paint the patio, the fence, the wall each other. . . or stick paper down all over the ground with stones etc and give them the paint and enough old clothing to make them decent but allow them to paint their knees and elbows to see what shapes they make. Just have a tub of water and a towel on standby before they traipse paint all through the house. 😉 Have a brilliant summer!

Amanda 5 months ago

I love your writing. You are one of the normal people. My summers as a kid were just like this. I remember everyone of these and still have a few scars as momentos.
I would add camping at the river out under the stars. Nothing like catching lightening bugs and washing dishes and yourselves in the river. Thanks for bringing to mind sweet memories.

Liz Clayton 5 months ago

Oh.my.stars! So much yes!

Sandy 5 months ago

Thanks for the reminder! I’m not the mom with the perfect diet, crafts planned and all that but I do have a tendency to be overly clean lol. I need to relax and enjoy! The winters are too long here to spend three hot months cleaning!

Sandy 5 months ago

Bahahaha!! Amen!

Beth Nolan Conners 6 months ago

#9 and backyard forts — that brought back some good memories right there!! :)

Haley 1 year ago

Thank you for making me laugh and brightening my day!

Rachel 1 year ago

I love this – totally totally agree with EVERYTHING. I am curious if your kids are free to roam the neighborhood, like we were – starting when I was 4 and my sister 6. Why are kids not outside alone anymore??????

Kathy Laird 1 year ago

That was definitely how my summers as a child went. My sister and I went everywhere, without parents. We walked to the public pool alone, walked to the park, walked to the grocery store to buy things for my mother, and so much more. I was 8 and she was 6. Now when mothers let their children walk to the park alone, the mother is arrested. If we don’t give our children any responsibility (age appropriate, based on the child’s maturity) or trust them to walk to the park, how will they learn to be trustworthy, responsible adults?

Kira 1 year ago

How much would it trip the neighborhood out if kids set up a lemonade stand? I can just see the questions about organic-ness of the lemons, or sugar count.

My friend and I picked raspberries and sold them together one summer. I had the bushes in my backyard, and he had the house on the busy corner where we got lots of business. We raided my Mom’s collection of old plastic containers that she had washed and saved (why spend money on Tupperware when you can reuse margarine tubs?) We braved mosquitoes and thorns without parental supervision, and made $40 each – a killing, in our eyes. One of my favorite summer memories turned out to be playing Business Partners.

Lisa 1 year ago

Love this! Our children today are missing out!

R Wells 1 year ago

If you have to ask, I think you’ve missed the point.

Steph 1 year ago

I wish kids could have summers like this without someone calling the cops. “Officer, there was a child at the playground without a parent up his butt!! Please contact CPS immediately.”

ashley 1 year ago

Thank you! Sometimes I feel like I let my kids play on their own to much, but your completely right. The times I remember are not the ones my mom and dad provided, but the ones we made up ourselves!

Dirk Pitt Jr 1 year ago

I need some help here. What age are the above 10 point meant for?

Teresa 1 year ago

Holy shit you hate your kids!!!!! I feel so bad for them!!!!!

Lori 1 year ago

I love the request for positive comments on one of the most negative blogs I’ve seen. While you’re NOT raising your kids this summer maybe you should occupy your time NOT judging the mothers who are raising theirs. I am one of the moms who buys pool toys, spends the day outside WITH the kids, gives them healthy snacks (GASP), takes long walks WITH them and doesn’t drop them off at other peoples homes unless I, a) know the parents well and trust them and b) knows they’ll be home. And then don’t allow them to overstay their welcome since, last time I checked, you learn manners as a child… When I see moms like you, it doesn’t affect me. I love being a mom, I love being around my children. Its funny to me that you’ve dedicated quite a few articles to how mothers who go above and beyond are doing it wrong, Would you do the same in the workplace? If there was a fellow employee who stayed long hours and dedicated herself to her work so it would be better than mediocre would you criticize that? Actually, I bet you would, you seem like the type. Why don’t you get off our backs? I’ve noticed that the moms who actually give a shit have kids who are polite, kind and intelligent. They are being raised that way. Street urchins have their place too, though. In fact, I can always tell who is being left to fend for themselves at home. They usually are the ones begging for attention. Its a sad reminder to me that showering your kids with love, affection and attention is always worth it. Even if it means spending more time on and with them than is easy.

Autumn 1 year ago

Yes, you’re definitely right. That was my summer growing up through the 1980s…although in retrospect I feel like I spent too much time watching TV, although I did go outside for at least part of the day everyday, if only to read a book. lol

But anyway, I know what you mean about kids of today. Why right this moment I’m baby sitting/part-time nanny to a 10 yr old boy who would rather just watch cartoons on Netflix and wants to take his handheld game system & tablet PC with him everywhere away from home. 😛

Slipcovers by Shelley 1 year ago

My thoughts exactly…but you were way more funny!!! Hilarious! My boys love making stuff out of nothing and I Instagram all their crazy inventions–check out #hebersboys on Instagram!

Gina 1 year ago

Yes, yes YESSSS!!! Oh my goodness yes. Thank you for affirming my wanting to give my kids the kind of summer I grew up with (although my childhood summers were in the 80’s) I’m the lone “bad” mom who makes her kids play outside in our back yard- unattended? Yes. It’s fenced in, my 5 year old and 3 year old are not dummies who let whomever comes to the gate in. I want them to fling themselves down on a slip and slide, I want them to build crap out of grass and leaves and sticks and play with their thrift store-throwback action figures. I wish there was a playground near by that wasn’t safety padded so they can actually climb an iron jungle gym and maybe even scorch their lil’ legs on a metal slide. I am ready to have a dollar or two on hand for when the ice cream man comes driving down our street- which I’m sure he’s given up on because our neighborhood is full of Whole-Foods organic snoots! Have a Freezy! Have an ice cream sammich, have a Pink Panther bubble gum creamsicle! Run around without 500 pounds of sun screen on, and for goodness sake PLEASE stop expecting me to engage you in planned activities every 10 minutes, you are capable of doing stuff that doesn’t require a tablet and spastic, seizure inducing cartoon entertainment!!

Dawn 1 year ago

I wish I had seen this before I scheduled a zillion camps. This is exactly what they need. Calling to see if I can cancel some and when I get the money back I’m buying bologna, kool- aid and cheese balls!

Cosette 1 year ago

Yes, I am sure she was suggesting that people leave their 3 month old infant alone, instead of the logical interpretation that she was addressing parents of older kids who are old enough to be left alone and drag them along everywhere anyway.

Noelle 1 year ago

You do realize that this is just contributing to more Mommy Wars judgemental crap, right?

Eric 1 year ago

Bad news, Planter’s Cheese Balls were discontinued semi-recently.

Kelli 1 year ago

I love this… I always say that the more tired and dirty they are by the end of the day was a good day! I went to the playground with my daughter and her preschool class… I said to her (and her friends… haha), “it is ok… get dirty.. get wet… have fun! That is the sign of a good day!” The look on the other parents face was horror! We moved from the east coast to Colorado… I just wish we had more ponds, bigger trees and lightning bugs here, that is what I miss for my kids!

Jodie 1 year ago

Love, love, love this! And I totally agree. We are having a 70’s summer too!

Abcde 1 year ago

I agree. My husband works a swing shift and there just isn’t available family around to always watch the kids. I just can’t see hiring a baby sitter so I can grocery shop or run errands. Believe me, I would also enjoy that ability. Not everyone lives in the same situation. I do agree with most of this article, give the kids a chance to use their imaginations and gain confidence in doing things on their own.

Julie Jansen 1 year ago

Beautiful, perfect article. I am sending this to EVERYBODY. Well done, nice one. 😀

sonny 1 year ago

Please tell me where to find the blue can of planters cheese balls? ? ? Great article!

SMW 1 year ago

P.S. Don’t guilt trip them about how the fireflies might die in the jar. Enjoying a 1970’s summer might take practice for today’s kids. My three watched TV for hours today until I made them stop, at which time they started bickering. Here’s a tip – make a list of chores (summer homework, practice piano, do a load of laundry, clean bathrooms, paint the swingset, wash the cars). They might do the special, messy chores. After that, their procrastination drive will kick into high gear (no piano, no laundry!) and it will cause them to find many fun activities as they realize you will get off their backs so long as they are happy and not underfoot.

frances m 1 year ago

My late 70’s summers were just like this and my mom brought us to the beach in an old hot car. A/C unheard of. We listened to the radio. Best times ever.

Debbie 1 year ago

When it comes to single mom’s at the store they usually have the best behaved kids in the story. These mom’s don’t have time to put up with the spoiled crap.
As for having a care free summer like in the 70’s sound great to me. My grandkids love coming over to our house and just playing outside. They’ve learned how to make mud pies and even decorate them with what ever is laying around.

I say let the kids play, use there imagination and stop haling them around to do stuff they really don’t care to do anyway.

As for the food, sounds like a good plan to me.
Love the down to earth post Melissa.

Paige Whitley 1 year ago

For Birthdays we do cake and ice cream and friends.
For Birthday gifts I get them things that are used outside like bikes, tents, frisbees etc.
My guys LOVE building crap with cardboard. The only thing I have to supply is duct tape. They’ve made tanks, guns, robot shells and more. LOVE their imagination. I often quote to them “boredom is the gateway to creativity”.
Oh yesterday they took boardgames outback to the gazebo and have named the gazebo the “backyard gang’s club”. Yep, my guys, the backyard gang.

Michelle 1 year ago

I’m 33, born in ’81. But my husband was born in ’72, and our youngest kid is not yet 6 months old, so I imagine there are plenty of other parents with school-aged kids who remember the 70s.

Michelle 1 year ago

Ha, yes! That and, “You’re bored? Great, because I have these chores that need doing…” 😛

Michelle 1 year ago

I live in suburb of Houston. Unless you live in the ghetto, I’d encourage you that it’s probably not as dangerous as you think. Violent crime of all types is down across the board since we were kids. (And personally, I grew up in the city — not the suburbs — at a time when crime was much higher. So did my husband, but we still played outside all day and had great childhoods.) Teach them traffic safety, give them water bottles and good hats, and let them go play. My kids go out in the morning and come in during the hottest part of the afternoon, then back out after dinner if they get their chores done quickly enough.

Michelle 1 year ago

Oh, if ONLY other moms would let their precious age-appropriate snowflakes do *anything* out of eyesight. I’ve learned to ignore the stink eye from moms who are “supervising” their preteen children around the neighborhood, when I occasionally track mine down to let them know dinner will be early, or whatever.

That said, I take my kids to the store, one at a time, to spend time with them. They tell me all about their adventures of the day, and what they’re planning to do tomorrow, and maybe spend some of their allowance on a candy bar. And as long as I can’t hear your kids screaming for ice cream from three aisles over, I don’t care if you bring them to the store too. 😛

Michelle 1 year ago

Jenny, are you secretly my grandmother? Because this is my childhood to a T. Bravo! :)

Laura 1 year ago

Crime rates have dropped since the 70s to their lowest rate ever (http://www.freerangekids.com/crime-statistics/). What has actually changed is our heightened awareness to every crime because of the 24-hour news cycle. Kids today are at their most vulnerable to death and injury when you are driving them in their car.

Jenny Islander 1 year ago

I look at the enrichment-type catalogs and my eyes bug out. Who has money for that?! (I know, somebody has to, but nobody I know.)

1. Save small, relatively sturdy plastic containers, like lunchbox-sized juice bottles and microwave dinner trays–anything that’s easy to clean and toss in the dish drainer. Keep a bag or drawer of these for kids to do stuff with. (Today they made “perfume” out of weeds.)

2. Save any piece of printer-type paper that is blank on one side and not embarrassing on the other. Keep a drawer of this with some cheap construction paper, any stickers that come in your junk mail, and stuff to draw/paint with that they can use without any setup by you. Also buy the cheapest clear tape you can find because if you will allow it in the house at all you will run out fast. Glue: only if they use it up before it dries out.

3. Buy cheap yarn, but only if you are willing to repeat, “NO tying things to things anywhere people walk” frequently. Also get small, light, and properly sharp scissors for anybody over the age of about 3.

4. Get a pile of shabby old blankets and assign them a shelf. That is the pile that goes outside. Do not touch the other stuff, I mean it, kid.

5. Busted pots, dented mixing bowls, and chipped dishes, ditto.

6. Four words: Cardboard. Boxes. Butter. Knives.

7. This is a mental stockpile: Try to think like a kid. Focus downward and more closely, always downward and more closely. So the kids have been sitting around on the lawn all afternoon, picking at the grass? Well, do they look bored? No? Do you mind them picking at the grass? No? Are they in danger of sunburn or venomous bites? No? Anybody skipping chores? No? Then go out one time to ask if they want one thing, such as perhaps a magnifying glass. Then go back to what you were doing. They’re having a good time and that is enrichment enough!

Catrina 1 year ago

Love this! I am a bit of a contradiction. I love to be creative with my kids, entertaining them and finding lots of different activities throughout the summer, but I also love down time and no schedule. They feed themselves breakfast and entertain themselves most of the day. Many times all of the blankets are pulled out of the closet. But I am also protective of my 3 daughters and don’t let them ride around the block alone. It’s not the same world it was 30+ years ago. I do, however, appreciate the idea that kids these days need a good dose of the 70’s!

Jamie 1 year ago

Loved it. Made me sad in a nostalgic, melancholy way. One tiny correction: I believe you meant to say “The Six Million Dollar Man” and/or “The Bionic Woman”. I know this because I was a faithful watcher and had a mad dog crush on Steve Austin. The Bionic Woman, on the other hand, shared my namesake (Jamie Sommers – at least the first name) and that was cool at the time because no one had my name. Naturally, I wanted to be her and be so close to Steve! My sisters and I put on epic talent shows. Also, are you ready? Beauty contests! Complete with talent and bathing suit competition sections! Picking the state you represented was fun and exotic! What a lovely trip down memory lane. Happy summer to you! Pinky promise to incorporate these genuine elements into our summer… (except we don’t have cable TV)

Amiete Aprekuma 1 year ago

So last year for the first time ever my kid revolted and requested he not be sent to camp. I created a make shift roster of events and activities that we ran through all summer. He ended up scoring the highest test scores after a summer break ever when he return to school this year. So now again no summer camp, but I just couldn’t bring myself to go through that work again. It was like a job and after the busy school year we just had- I’m exhausted! So reading this just gave me permission to give him the summer I remember having as a kid. Thank you greatly!!!

pentamom 1 year ago

Which does not explain why they drag their kids to the store when they’re old enough to be left alone, which is OBVIOUSLY what is being referred to here.

Kathy D 1 year ago

I just loved this! I always felt like an inferior mother because I never had those elaborate birthday parties, the whole neighborhood over doing some fun, creative, themed activity during the summer etc. And I could totally relate to the ’70s summers! Playing outside, climbing trees, running under sprinklers, staying up late, sleeping out back in a tent……doing whatever we felt like doing!

hfb 1 year ago

Oh, hell yeah. I, too, watched too much TV, including fave Hart to Hart, ate lots of crap, and stayed outside most of the time…and I went to an Ivy League school so it can’t be all bad, right? I constantly hear about parents worried about ‘screen time’ these days and I wonder if they remember their own childhood….

Sandra 1 year ago

Love it! I drank sugar Kool-Aid and ate bologna sandwiches daily and Am still kickin’ 50 years later. Also slept outside in the backyard and even up in a tree one night.

KJ 1 year ago

Well, the first thing I thought of is, maybe the mom’s husband is deployed. Like, in the military, deployed. Just a thought…

Ron 1 year ago

I don’t guess you’ve watched TV Bland lately. They don’t show any of those shows nor hardly any classic stuff at all anymore.

Jen 1 year ago

my thoughts exactly, There are some things that I would let my 10 yr old do, but not my 4 yr old. plus most people these days dont stay in the same place for any more than a couple of years, therefore you dont really get a chance to get to know anyone. But agree with the most of the rest!

Marianne 1 year ago

So, I am totally one of those moms that has the “100 things to do this summer” list posted on my fridge right now. I also strive to keep my children on a healthy diet over the summer. However, I also plan to splurge and throw caution to the wind as well. The list is an attempt to keep myself motivated and not end up stuck around the house with a 3 & 6 yr old all day. We are currently at the beach with a counter full of chips and cookies to enjoy while on vacation. The key to a happy life and happy family is balance. I hope to find that happy point this summer :)

Jill 1 year ago

Seriously, get a sense of humor.

Jill 1 year ago

You are definitely not the Peyton Place mom she is speaking of! All the best to you and your ki

Samathia 1 year ago

Same here. I am a single mother, if I didn’t take my child with me, we wouldn’t eat or have clothes. I would love to go grocery shopping by myself, but until my child is old enough to stay home, not much choice.

Jennifer Banse 1 year ago

This is AWESOME! We homeschool our kids, but we just don’t fit in with any of the local homeschool activity groups in our area because we are not “crunchy” or TV-shunners. I can’t wait to share this on the FB pages of the groups I belong to…the reactions will be priceless!

Heidi Embrey 1 year ago

Great article! When I was a kid the things I liked doing best was making rock and clover soup and we ate it too! I remember making mud and grass pies for hours (didn’t eat those!) We would organize parades for all the kids on our street with all their pets and get all the parents to come out and watch as we paraded down the street..clowns and everything .Lucky there were lots of kids on our street. Riding bikes and Big Wheels..Jumping rope..Roller skating up and down the street..NOT roller blades either! Those hand clapping games you could do with 2 or more kids..you know? :)

April 1 year ago

LOL!!! 😀

Alicia 1 year ago

I’m Abigail’s mommy too! My dd7 is named that! Just thought I’d say Hi!

Alicia 1 year ago

I took my dd6 a couple yrs ago through a hole in the fence around the corner from me that led to a sump that had a beautiful view of a meadow. We went there at sunset and just chatted until it was time to go home. Most summers she plays outdoors in sprinklers and we take a trip or two to the beach. Endless play dates, Popsicles, TV, and random crafts I come up with on the spot. This year she is signed up for half day activities at her school but only bc I’m pregnant with her brother and cannot deal with heat, whining, AND pregnancy all at once lol. We may even paint/dye some shit.

Becky Harris 1 year ago

I love the Simon reference, I got a chill just thinking about the noise!

Kristy Shay Johnston 1 year ago

Love it!! 😀

Lisa Austin Brouse 1 year ago

I really loved this article!!! I must say the best days were spent doing the things you mentioned!!! We live in a crazy electronic world…nice to get back to the basics !! A much simpler time!!! I am gonna be 52 so hit home for me!!! :)

Robyne Chabant 1 year ago

I thought kids did this anyway during the school holidays???

Christine M Latondress 1 year ago

Love it and miss the good ole days!!!

Amber Turner 1 year ago

Good stuff! #3 is debatable, I wonder if the reason they forget and digress over summer is from all the vitamin laden plastic and probiotic popcicles?

Gina Petrelli 1 year ago

Love these…all of these! Even sneaking from movie to movie…I did this with my cousins when I was a kid…and it was certainly encouraged by the parents…3 movies for the price of 1!

Vero RG 1 year ago

70s, 80s, 40s…it doesnt matter! I just wish my kid had the childhood I had with NO INTERNET, WII, IPODS, TABLETS,…. Just hide and sek, duck duck goose, fun baths in the river, outside playing running, laughing with other kids in my block, try to learn to use a YO-YO, …I loved my childhood :)

Amanda 1 year ago

Some of this is really great and good advice…I do think we as parents should plan less and “just roll with it” and I am certainly all for playing g outside and being creative and all that… But leaving kids alone at home or at the movie theater all day?,sorry, but it’s NOT the 70s anymore and that is just a bad idea. There are crazy people in this world. I would he scared to leave my kids alone like that!

Monica Garzon Alvarez 1 year ago

Today, my kids played with messy play dough and ate (gasp! gmo and sugary) cereal all morning in front of the tv during a huge thunderstorm, after the rain cleared we ran outside barefoot to jump in puddles and play with neighbors, and after swim lessons, we headed to the DQ and had ice cream for dinner and ended with an extra long bubble bath before bed. Retro fun summer day: nailed it! I plan on repeating all summer.

Luna Bear 1 year ago

Uh. Mazing. Hit the nail right on the head. That was our summer EVERY summer!

Rachel Ann Termini 1 year ago

I would add a trip to a drive in theater, if you can still find one! So many great ideas for memories… :)

gustercc 1 year ago

what a wonderful piece. Shared this and got positive responses. Thank you so much for writing it. Wish we were neighbors.

gustercc 1 year ago

You should read more and think less.

Rich 1 year ago

Don’t bother Gibbymom, they won’t get it. They actually think the author means for you to leave a newborn at home alone chewing on a blow dryer electric cord. Yeah, “judge less.” INdeeeed.

Jessica Farrell 1 year ago

Love!! It doesn’t matter which decade you each grew up in. The author only knows her experience. And luckily so many ages can relate. I can’t wait for my tiny ones to be old enough for this stuff. Not that I have summers off ;( but I totally agree with less structure and more creativity.

Mia Sanner 1 year ago


Gina Muscato-O’brien 1 year ago

Love this!! My childhood to the T

Claire 1 year ago

We’ve been doing a few of these vacations the last few years, hardly any camp, just hanging. I would add one item to your list: the first step is GETTING BORED! People are so afraid of their kids getting bored and asking to play video games. So I say no to video games and just get outside, or in your room. We still do TV, 5 episodes of our favorite show is fair on rainy days, world cup all Sunday is a must. I would personaly take out one item in your list though: junk food. I love local and homemade so my item will be: fruit picking, eat as much as you can while you’re there. Let’s make our own ice cream in a blue ball, watermelon spit fight, etc. The best of it all, by the end of it, when the kids are done with the pool, the tree house, the free time, they are ripe to go back to school, they want their routine back, and so do I.

Carolina Fought 1 year ago

I didn’t realize this was a “70s childhood” cause my kids already live this way

Gibbymom 1 year ago

This is about a 70s childhood and we drank from the waterhose and lived, however, the author is using SATIRE! It is meant to be funny. Relax a little! ‘

Gibbymom 1 year ago

This is a satirical piece. Humor!

Tracy McGuinness 1 year ago

I think a few of you are far too literal. Pretty much….stop scheduling stuff for your kids to do every second of every day. Kids these days don’t know how to entertain themselves, handle boredom or think for thwmselves. I loved the article!

Jill 1 year ago

Agreed. I’m not about to leave preschool age kids at home alone, and my husband is an EMT and works long hours (like 72+ in a row). Gee, sorry if you don’t like kids at the store. We do have to eat.

Claire Shearer Reynolds 1 year ago

Those were the days… The best.. No curfew, if you weren’t home for a meal it was because you were eating at someone else’s house, hours in the pool and wrinkles! Summer was lonnngg and relaxing! Nothing but vacation was ever planned.

Christy 1 year ago

Some of those moms you speak of with their children at the store with them are single moms, like myself (children aged 2, 4, 5), and there’s no other choice but to take them along. Trust me, I would love to be able to shop by myself more often. Maybe judge and assume a little less.

Jackie Hennessey 1 year ago

I loved it. You rock. My new hero mom! YOU totally GET it. THANK. YOU!

Jackie Hennessey 1 year ago

You are my Red Dye #5 hero. I. LOVE. THIS. THANK YOU. Thank you for writing out loud what I’ve been thinking since June 1, the day I started to panic that I will be entertaining my kids all summer. Yet again. YES. Yes, kids. GO. PLAY. OUTSIDE. Any child that comes to my house this summer will PLAY OUTSIDE and I shall feed them circus food. Corn dogs, Frito pies and French fries. You name it, I’m serving it. OUTSIDE. Bring. It. On. 😉

Calli 1 year ago

I love you. That is all.

Heather Humphreys Yenser 1 year ago

How old are parents these days? I’m 31 born in 82. How about a summer from the 80’s or 90’s?

Terresa Morris 1 year ago

Numbers 2, 3 & 4 are a little ridiculous. I would not, as a parent, encourage my children to sneak from one theater to the next and risk getting into trouble or encourage them to do something that is illegal and when you get down right to it, that is exactly it is, illegal. I would not want my kids to “eat whatever they want” especially chemically induced foods like GMO, not to mention dealing with overly sugar induced hyper children. In the 70’s you didn’t need to worry about GMO. And let them watch tv, plenty of it??? Sounds like lazy parenting. There is nothing wrong with new activities and being creative with your child, it is a learning and growing experience you can share with them. I agree with building a fort, running through sprinklers, and make stuff, like stuff you find – (hmmm sounds like pinterest?? lol). Kids should be able to find stuff to do and play on their own, but summer time is best time for spending quality time with your children outdoors doing stuff! I think this article should be re-named “How to ignore your children during the summer”.

Sandy 1 year ago

I had 1960’s/1970’s summers growing up, and we ran wild outside all day. We could do this because the street was full of adults who were home with the kids — mothers and grandparents, mostly. They paid attention and watched for trouble and intervened as necessary (and other parents thanked them for doing it). The price of this was small houses that were paid for by one income. Vacations were modest and didn’t come every year.Eating out was rare. Few people are willing to live like this anymore, so it’s not surprising that times have changed.

In defense of the parents who don’t let their kids roam free these days, we have a tool that previous generations did not have — internet databases of registered sex offenders. I live in a nice neighborhood, but a search showed me that there were places I didn’t want my kids to wander — within walking distance. At the very least I want to know where my kids are and where they’re going. They’re old enough now to take long walks by themselves, but I still don’t want them to leave the house in the morning and drift all day, because there really is bad stuff out there and few people around to see it happen.

Alexandra Cervantes 1 year ago

This is pretty similar to my 80s childhood. Love it and will do/done most of this with my kids.

TeAnna Earlene Morton-Sillas 1 year ago

Ummm..can you update it to the early 90’s, as my mom was a teen in the 70s! Lol!

Emily Kirkham Edwards 1 year ago

Perfect advice!

Terrie Lacey 1 year ago

This was so wonderful.. This is exactly the kind of summer-including Simon Sez I wanted my children to have, and they did have this kind of summer in the 70′. When they tell me now, some of the places they and their friends explored I gasp but they survived and are the better for it. Thank you Terry L.

Brigid 1 year ago

Okay, he’s done many of those things on past summers. Now, what to do with a blobby 15-yr-old teenage boy? :/

Melissa Fenton 1 year ago

Overwhelmed with response to this. Sometimes you write things and wonder if anybody will ‘get it.’ Well by the looks of it, you all did. Thank you for laughing and getting it and taking the time to say nice things about what I wrote. Now go make some damn Kool-Aid

Dar 1 year ago

Wow, I was a 10 years old in 1970, I remember doing this stuff in the 60’s too. But I remember trying to one hand hope over a fence like my friend could do. I finally got it, but can’t tell you how many times I busted myself up trying. Oh and riding my bike at night in shorts without shoes or a helmet and then pumping the pedals so hard in front of a boy I like only to miss and fall Arss over bike and skid across asphalt. Oh and poked a spoke in my knee. I just went home toes, knees and hands burning from asphalt burn trying to hide the fact that I hurt myself from my mom and her friends who were talking. Went to the bathroom cleaned up and went out and started riding my bike again. Wow what fun times they were it was warm lightning bugs were out and it was after dark on my 11th Birthday. Woot!!!!

Mary Jean Johnston 1 year ago

Oh, this was priceless! I’m still laughing!!

Lola Neder 1 year ago

theren is danger all around especially in Dallas

Desiree Brown 1 year ago

This is great!!

corie 1 year ago

I could not agree more with this. Kids today are catered to way too much. They have no idea how to entertain themselves. We have certain days a week where we do family activities other than that I tell the kids I’m not here for entertainment now go figure something out your self.

Lena Fontecchio 1 year ago

That’s what I’m talkin about.

SammichesPsychMeds 1 year ago

Amen! Sounds like my 80s childhood.

Alissa Gabriel 1 year ago

We also used to shoplift Now’n’Laters from the 7-11 down the street. Good times…

Candice Stewart 1 year ago

love it

JD Bailey 1 year ago

My 80s summers were just like this. Good times. Good times.

Molly McCann 1 year ago


Kimberly Ballard Hettinger 1 year ago

Love love love

sue 1 year ago

We moved to NW NJ in 1993 with our 4 children and one thing my husband and I both noticed was the lack of kids playing when we rode past parks or through a developement. It was really weird. We did not have cable because I didn’t want the kids glued to the set. They saw the show all the kids watched at their Nana’s on Sunday night and watched videos. People who I met would always say as if it were unusual ‘ your kids are the ones always outside’ . We lived in the woods on the base of a mountian and they played .

Becky Whitton 1 year ago

Me & brother & our freinds used to always put lil talent shows on for my mom & her freinds. It was awesome & so much fun

Jill 1 year ago

I love this so much! My summers in the late 80s/early 90s were like this, too. Pretty sure my parents didn’t know where I was most of the day, unless of course, I was inside watching Three’s Company, The Beverly Hillbillies, and that game show with the Whammy cartoon guy.

Valerie Ann 1 year ago

Amen!!! I’m an 80’s child and we played outside all day every day unless there was lightening (then 13 of us jumped from house to house doing stuff together). We survived and my one year old will learn just like I did!!

Jeanette Miranda Aponte 1 year ago

Love this, lol

Judith Vizcaino 1 year ago

I’ll settle for #1, 6, 7, 9 and 10. My mind is too messed up already to allow the others! haha
About #5 the FOOD, in my time (the 90’s) most of the time we would make lemonade, tamarind juice, or just water with sugar! Not because we wanted to be “healthy” but bc there was nothing else ha!

3Mama 1 year ago

Absolutely, i have fought to raise my kids the way i was raised. Go use your imagination and have fun. No social media involved. Other mothers always comment that I’m so brave for doing my own thing. It’s not bravery, its common sense!

Shelley 1 year ago


Jodi Hovatter 1 year ago

This is amazing!!!! Exactly what I’ve been saying. Bring back old school summers!!!!

Debra Elliott McKay 1 year ago


Brandi Hughes 1 year ago

I love this!!

Jackie Brown 1 year ago

The ’50,’60 too except we only had 3 TV channels

Alisa M 1 year ago

Amen Sister! Are you sure you didn’t grow up on my street with me????

Christina Horn 1 year ago

Please don’t drink from a garden hose! It’s so dangerous! Many toxins collect in the hose and nozzle itself (lead, anyone?). Go ahead and send the kiddos outside, but leave them with safe drinking water (it doesn’t have to be organic or glacier-certified, I swear!). Thanks!

Clara Guevara 1 year ago

too funny

Gracie Mae 1 year ago

This is the BEST summer post I have seen……EVER!!! THANK YOU!!

Val Torres 1 year ago

I grew up in the 80s but basically had the same childhood. But instead of playing hide and seek between houses, we played in the hills behind our house. Like all day. GI Joe, spy, bb gun fights (which I stayed away from), any game where you had to hide basically. You name it, we played it. And hose water was the best after playing baseball on our street for like 6 hours. This is an amazing post. Really brought me back. Thank you!

Adam Burrows 1 year ago

These are the worst ideas EVER. Except for#1

Kim 1 year ago

Oh wow, fried bologna…my grandmother used to make that and it was yummy! Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

Sarah Ledgerwood 1 year ago

Love love love this!

Melissa 1 year ago

Amazing!!!! Loved this!!

Jennifer Clark Jones 1 year ago

Amen to this!!!!! This was my summers to a t in the80’s 90s. This will also be my kids summers as well bring on the reruns, books and don’t forget the daily diet of pbj, kool aid, nickel candy and soda from the gas station down the street. My kids are loving this classic summers I had. Including pretty much trapping bugs all day. :)

Janice Morris Cuneo 1 year ago

Awesome. All of it.

Carly Bonderud 1 year ago

Wait. So when my kid gets older I’m actually expected to come up with activities all summer instead of just letting him play? And what the hell is this about non gluten and non GMO and red dye #5? I am clearly inadequate in the world of today’s moms because I bought a big container of kool aid ( for me. Just to be clear, I drink that stuff all summer) and eat Popsicles from the store (the kind with the sugar). And…I don’t care! I love it! *dancing* But seriously, I think this whole structured play and healthy eating thing has gone too far. I was a 90s kid and I survived, so my kid will too.

Martha Rogers 1 year ago

Yep!! That pretty much sums up my summers as a kid. BLISS. Especially kool-aid and Hart to Hart.

Cal White 1 year ago

Making it a 60s kind of summer would involve a lot of stuff that has now been banned… Where IS my Daisy BB gun? 😉

Courtney Bowell Roupp 1 year ago

This is a fantastic article! I love it!

Liz McAllister 1 year ago

I agree with everything except the food. Bring socially conscious and socially responsible is not lame or an annoyance. Meat is bad for you, the environment and the global economy

Kat Hensley 1 year ago

Let them get dirty

Molly 1 year ago

Love this! I’m a 70’s kid (1973!!) and we lived outside in the summer. Mom would kick us out after breakfast with instructions to not come back in the house unless someone was bleeding! Haha! We drank from the hose, played w/ sticks (gasp!) climbed every tree in sight and watched the clouds drift by, picking out animals and shapes as they passed overhead, waded in the creek looking for crawdads and we survived just fine w/o tv. Until the muppets came on and then we collapsed from exhaustion. Mom NEVER entertained us. In fact her motto was, “It’s not my job to entertain you.” We learned to be resourceful and had a LOT of fun. Thanks for reminding me of the good ole days!

Jenee Jenkins Wolfram 1 year ago

Thank you!!!

Jennifer Lee Orr 1 year ago

I love this!!!!!

Anastasia Tarnaras 1 year ago


Sheena Edwards 1 year ago

Sounds like my house

Tina Bell O’Neill 1 year ago

Funny stuff here. We need to ease up.

Kris Kirwan 1 year ago

I wish *I* had the summer “off” to do this for myself.

Suzanne Yingling 1 year ago

Funniest. Post. Ever.

Megan Stokes Kidd 1 year ago

Love this!!! I shared for all my mama friends!! My 7 yr old loves everything outdoors, and if I didn’t have a clingy 9 month old, I’d be out there with him all day! Maybe next yr lol!

Jean Brinser Wright 1 year ago

I love this!

Katie Alexander 1 year ago

Lol! This entire post made my day! I especially love “watermelon chunks cut out like dolphins.”

Mandy Johnson 1 year ago

Sounds like my kids summer! We don’t have cable or video games so they wake up eat and go outside. My kids are 13,12,9 and 4.

Jennifer Toscano Wilkin 1 year ago

I love this!

Sara Oehler 1 year ago

That happened in the 80’s too, & my kids do the same thing too. Just depends on who is parenting I guess… I really wish there was no video games. My nephew that I have custody of (for 8 years) would rather be in the house all day. ( I have to make him go do something outside) My Bio kids which I have 5 of, Would rather be out side all day… I have to force them to come in for bed time. & during the good weather they want to eat dinner outside also. Oh I do have to add if the kids decide to go somewhere they have to tell, but that is it cause there are to many weirdo’s out there

Anastasia Morgan 1 year ago

Sign me up!

Patty Linares 1 year ago

Right on. I appreciate how ‘cute’ some of the fancy fruits and activities can be, but kids need good old fashioned, not hi tech fun. Period.

Jennifer 1 year ago

I tried to get my kids to build a fort in the backyard the other day. “How do we do that?” “I don’t know. Grab random crap from around the yard and go to work.” Sheesh. It is like kids have never learned how to play.

Juliet Lamontagne 1 year ago

Love love love this!!!!

Mable Dykes 1 year ago

I remember those days

Abigail’s Mommy 1 year ago

I grew up in Maine in the 80s and 90s. We played outside all day, everyday. My friend’s kids do the same. I spent my summets at the beach. I live in a city in Texas. It’s not as safe here. So I sit outside and watch all the neighborhood kids. This summer we will be at the water park every day because over 100 is too hot for me if I am not in water.

Nichole Weldon 1 year ago

Yes, yes, yes!

Theresa Hicks 1 year ago

Who says this is a 70’s summer? Im only 22 and this explains my childhood summers to the T! :) I cant wait till my kids are old enough to have summer (ours is all year right now with a 4 year old and 3 month old) there will be no diet this and gluten free that! More like ice cream trucks and drinking from the hose! :)

Yadira Betances 1 year ago

well 4 and 5 are a bit much. my childhood was never like this unfortunately. but i will try to have the kids play outside all day all summer lol.

Aimee Klokeid 1 year ago

My favorite post thus far !!!!

The Hands on Toddler 1 year ago

This is exactly the summer my 11 year old will have this year, come hell or high water! The video games will go away and the creativity will come out!

Angela Boyd-Barker 1 year ago

Love this!!! Those were definitely my summers!

Samantha Shay Epstein 1 year ago

We would play outside all day and when it got dark, we would play werewolf. One person would hide and everyone had to find the werewolf (a scary hide and go see). When someone was close, the werewolf would jump out and scare the crap out of that person and chase them! It was sooooo much fun!!!

Sonia Mason-Murray 1 year ago

Love this! I would also add, get up, make your own cereal then get out of the house like a stealth ninja, get your bikes out of the garage without knocking over sixty rakes and shovels or scratching the car, ride somewhere and don’t come back until it’s feeding time. Also take a couple bucks from my purse so you can buy food from various 7-11s and ice cream trucks all day. See you when the street lights come on.

Jessica Fillion 1 year ago

Love this! But yes, it really should be titled ‘summer’s before the year 2000!’ I was born in 79′ and every summer in the 80’s and 90’s was exactly like this! My oldest son is 4 1/2 and I’ve not once let him have a modern summer, (or modern life at that) my 2nd son is due at the end of August and I have absolutely no intention of ever letting the modern world of technology and hyper-protection rule our lives. My son’s will first learn to think and use their minds before being exposed to what is out there today.

Melissa Foerster 1 year ago

Love love love! Thank you! This was my summer every summer….until the late 80’s when I got a car. Not a yellow Benz though!

Roxanne Holtman Malus 1 year ago

I’m pretty sure the author pegged the 70s cause that was her era. My goodness. Would you not label yours as a summer from 80s or 90s being a younger 30? Sheesh. I’m 33 and understood the point she was making. No need to turn this into a “what about me’ fest.

Amy Riddle 1 year ago

By the time my kids decided they wanted to go to the pool yesterday it was too late. I hooked up the sprinkler for them and told them to have fun. They decided to take it a step further and put the sprinkler on the trampoline. The only thing I changed about the setup was to have them put it UNDER the trampoline. They had a blast for over an hour!

Jane 1 year ago

Exactly the kind of summer I had! I’ll add #11. Be bored.

Catherine Bersani Bullock 1 year ago

So enjoyed reading this!

Cara Galluccio Melachrinos 1 year ago

Love it!!

Peggy Hernandez 1 year ago

Can’t wait til my kids are a little bigger to do these things with them! :)

Kristina Garrett Hockman 1 year ago


Mary Ellyn Rozell 1 year ago

#1 so reminds me of my summers growing up in Baltimore. You hit the nail on the head as I think I did everything you listed

Sara Jones 1 year ago

Oh how I want to be kid again after reading that!

Cristin Walton Keller 1 year ago

let them stay up LATER ? mine are 9 – 13 and i let em stay up as late as they can make it…. the lil one let me sleep till 9 !! woohoooo

Liz 1 year ago

Ah, thank you. Allowing parents and kids to just take a deep breath and relax. Use their imaginations and enjoy themselves fully in the moment and in the season that lets you soak up the sun and kick back a little (God forbid). Life really is too damn short to plan every second. Spontaneity and imagination. Amen, mama.

Ellen Osborne Wood 1 year ago

Yes yes YES! And now I want fried baloney and cheese balls.

Helen Russo 1 year ago

I do…sprinkler fun is far cheaper than putting in a swimming pool!

Carrie Schmidt 1 year ago


Tanya 1 year ago

Our summer hasn’t even started yet and I’m getting a headache from all the summer bucket list crap. Thank you and I’m sharing!

Jenni Hissong 1 year ago

this sounds like my 90s summers!! im 31 now but I had the best summers. now I have 2 kids and all the internet craze to be the “best mom”.. ice cream for dinner.. yup!! love this

Kelly Conley 1 year ago

I was tired of summer during the last week of school. I looked forward to sleeping in but of course they wake up way early because why not be awake willingly at 7am? At 10 and 13 I really expected some late morning/early afternoon sleep fests. I imagined I would bask in the morning quiet and have alone time before seeing their beautiful faces. Instead I get woken up to them fighting at 7:30, wtf man, wtf?

Courtney Lynn Richie 1 year ago

1970s? Lol I’m only gonna be 30 this year :) but I had good summers in the 80s and 90s!

Janine Keller Schmelz 1 year ago

These are the summers that I remember. They were awesome!

Shanna Locke 1 year ago


Tangi Gemberling 1 year ago

Love this!

Sharon Stone 1 year ago

Thank you! I love this so much!!! There is entirely too much pressure to entertain your children and live in Pinterest land these days! Ps: I’ve already got my pitcher of koolaid! Now to teach my daughters the join/torture of making sweet tea in the sun!

Katie Scullion Weeks 1 year ago


Erin Bryant 1 year ago

My summer was like this in the 90’s. I feel this is pre-internet/handheld computer era. Just saying :-)

Jessica Satterfield 1 year ago

My kids DO know how to entertain themselves! They would be perfectly happy with absolutely no activity all day, except that my oldest kinda needs my attention every hour, she just is like that. But if I read to them in the afternoon, and set out carrot sticks, they are good to go.

Adrea Benton 1 year ago

Back to basics and kids being creative and making their own fun!

RayandJackie Guy 1 year ago

This summer my daughter and the neighborhood kids will run in the sprinkler and the slip and slide. They will camp in the back yard and catch lightning bugs. We will go to the beach and free concerts in the park.
We will have fires at night and make smores. I love summer with the kids.

Katie 1 year ago

Hart to Hart was my favorite too! :)

Britt Reints 1 year ago

This is the best!

Laura Kellogg Gadberry 1 year ago

Love this! Totally my summers growing up!

Elizabeth 1 year ago

You are my hero! Thanks for pointing out the obvious, that we should get the hell over ourselves and lighten up.

Samantha Cooper Hartz 1 year ago


The Atomic Mom 1 year ago

I’ve kind of taken this approach to child rearing in general …. we don’t pay to be involved in stuff, and I think my kids are much happier that way. I love this!

Jennifer Zapf 1 year ago

if only the Peyton Place mothers of my neighborhood would let their kids go past the end of the driveway… if only they saw the value in riding by themselves around the block and actually understood the real danger is on the jetski or 4wheeler, if only if only if only… if only the Peyton Place mothers of my neighborhood would actually let their kid have more than 2 hours to themselves… oh the insanity of these “new” moms raised by helicopter parents themselves or heaven forbid stop dragging their kids everywhere with them…believe it or not I go the grocery store to get away from my kids – I sure don’t want to deal with yours while I’m there..

Cynthia Hughes 1 year ago

Loved the article!! My kids are SO having a 70’s type of summer this year!

Jenny Wonder-Tart 1 year ago

I love this. Love it.

Rachel 1 year ago

Clearly autocorrect is not my friend, sorry about that.

Kristin Nosbusch 1 year ago

That’s the summer I want for MYSELF!

Rachel 1 year ago

Oh I love this! Especially the part still the beginning about the homemade sandy crafty overly complicated vegan hipster bullshit. Summer when I was a kid was all about playing outside, climbing trees, running under the sprinkler and making friends over the fence with the neighbor kids. How sad girl kids of today that so many of them will never know that kind of simplicity!

Barbara Hiemstra Ticich 1 year ago

Hysterical!!! Thanks for me making me laugh hard first thing in the morning… :)


Enjoying this? Then like us on Facebook