Times Have Changed { My Kids’ 1980s Summer }

I don’t know if you’ve read it or not, but there’s an article floating around about 10 ways to give your kids a 1970s summer.  Knowing what I know about my growing up in the 80s and how much times have changed, I have little hope for my kids to experience a genuinely 1980s summer, but I will give them what I can.

My Kids' 1890s SummerAt my son’s age, I was playing in the backyard on my grandparents 4 acres, relatively unsupervised.  At my daughter’s age, I was off on my bike for hours on end.  No cell phones, no checking in every half hour.  Honestly, I’m not sure that anyone really knew where I was half of the time.  As a kid, it was bliss.  We knew all of our neighbors (not that there were that many) and all of our neighbors knew us.  We didn’t think twice about knocking on a door to ask for something to drink (though, looking back, we probably annoyed the dickens out of some of our poor neighbors) and certainly didn’t blink at the thought of taking food or candy if it was offered.  We played in the street until dark, walked to the convenience store nearly a mile away and never felt unsafe.

Fast forward 30-something years and I worry about my kid riding her bike around the block.  Maybe it was the ignorance of the 80s that was my bliss for us and maybe things were really just as scary as they are now and we simply didn’t know.  I can’t turn my kids loose outside for hours on end without worrying.  I can’t let my daughter take off and ride her bike the mile to her friend’s house.  I would never, ever be ok with my kid knocking on anyone’s door that wasn’t one of our immediate neighbors.  I can’t give my kids all of my 1980’s childhood, but I can give them some of it.

Raising Chickens and DucksI spent a lot – A LOT – of time outside as a kid.  We had cats, dogs, chickens, ducks, rabbits and a host of other animals.  Living in a subdivision inside the city means we can’t have those critters running around in our own backyard, but we can have them at grandma’s.  My childhood home has become my children’s second home and I love it.  At grandma’s now, we have chickens and a few ducks.  As far as the chickens and ducks, my dad takes care of the ducks (who are still pretty young right now, despite their size) and my son helps my grandma take care of the chickens (ridiculously easy!).  My kids will know what it’s like to have pets beyond dogs and cats, they will know what it is round up loose chickens, gather eggs, watch baby chicks grow and probably get pecked for rough handling a time or two.

photo(21)Time outside with the chickens and ducks mean less screen time instead of more, it means fresher food instead of more processed food and it means life lessons (coyotes can be a bit of a problem).  Chickens are also amazingly cuddly and sweet (as long as you aren’t squishing them) and give lots of options as far as summer learning.

Playing in the woodsI spent a lot of my childhood exploring.  I explored the yard, I explored the neighborhood, I explored the woods.  I’m trying to teach my kids to explore their world, even when it doesn’t look like there’s anything to find.  We’ve lived in the same house for 10 years, and until this spring, I had no idea this creek was in the wood behind our house.  As it turns out, it’s an excellent place for my son to dig and my daughter to find pretty rocks and flowers.  It’s also a great spot to teach the kids about poison ivy, ticks and mosquitoes (oh the perils of enjoying nature!)  Science is one of my favorite things to share with the kids and this place lends itself to an exponential number of summer lessons.

Blackberries and CactusOne of the things I want my kids to learn is that there is beauty in everything.  While 2014 may look nothing like 1984, and the world may look like a lot darker place now than it did then, there is still beauty everywhere and in everything.  There can be just as much beauty in a 2014 summer as I had growing up.  Even though times have changed, I will give my kids what I can – even if that’s just chickens, trees and berries.

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15 Responses to Times Have Changed { My Kids’ 1980s Summer }

  1. Chelsea says:

    I had a great childhood like yours, most of my time spent outdoors. I grew up in the 90’s and in a small town where we knew all of our neighbors and nothing bad really ever happened. We had a lake a block from our house and we were surrounded by woods. It was awesome. I hope my kids can have a great, safe, adventurous childhood like we did 🙂

  2. Carly says:

    I love this, isn’t it amazing how much time we spent OUTSIDE?

  3. I think all the time how much I wish I could just let me kids roam free like I used too… I think, because times have changed, I get anxiety about it! haha But, times are definitely different. I remember spending hours and hours and hours from sun up until sun down outside.. there’s no way my kids would want to do that now! lol

  4. I loved life when it was simple. So hard now because these kids can never unplug.

  5. Karly says:

    We always spent our summers down on the farm in southern Iowa, and it was the BEST. I miss it so much sometimes; the freedom and space and the simplicity of it all. Why did the world have to go and get so damn complicated? I wish we didn’t have to fear so many things for our kids.

  6. This is such a cute idea! Love it!

  7. Amber says:

    What a great post!! I too am an 80s child and it’s crazy how much times have changed…scary. Love seeing the kids playing outside, they look so happy! 🙂

  8. SO fun! I love all your fun ideas!

  9. This is awesome…I think too many kids stay inside nowadays and miss out on a lot of fun outdoors!

  10. This is SO true!! I remember doing so many things as a kid that I won’t let me kids do because things have changed so much, but I still try to get them outside as much as possible! Being outside as a kid holds so many wonderful memories! 🙂

  11. amber.m says:

    I spent SO Much time outside growing up! I don’t think my kids even spend 1/2 the time outside that I did! My goal this summer is to definitely change that!

  12. Chelsee says:

    Oh I love this! It reminds me so much of my childhood! Times have def. changed!

  13. Jennifer S. says:

    I love this!! We definitely had it good as kids of the 80’s!

  14. Summer says:

    Times have really changed and I really wish my kids could experience what I did when I was younger!

  15. David says:

    I miss the 1980s so much and how much time I used to spend outside. It didn’t matter what season it was. I was outside (unless the weather was bad or had to stay indoors to do chores, homework, etc…and play Nintendo video games). Back then, our (my generation of kids) only worry was not to talk to strangers or get in cars with them. Our curfew was when the street lights came on, though we often stayed outside to catch lightning bugs in Summer at night.

    I remember watching the sky at night with my parents. I remember one night watching a distant thunderstorm with lightning streaking out of the cloud and into the night sky. My mom was with me at the time. It was such a spectacular sight. It’s a pity I never took photos of the lightning show to show any of you. I remember watching grasshoppers hop around in the grass on some Summer days. I remember picking berries up in Maine when I went there for vacation on most Summers.

    You have no idea just how much I miss those good old days again when playing outdoors was normal for kids of my generation. Let me put it this way…I want someone to build a time machine so I can take it back to the good old days of my childhood. Everything changed for me during the 2000s and, since then, I’ve hated my life. Will I ever like my life again? It’s hard to say, but with the way things are going now, it’s highly unlikely.

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