Minus the shoulder pads.
I often wonder if I have fond memories of the 80's because I was a child and had no responsibilities. I remember riding bikes with kids in the neighborhood, collecting lightning bugs and enjoying shows on television with my parents. Recollecting memories of the 80's is like sitting by a campfire. I feel warm and content.
Fast forward 30+ years and life is different. We are all hustling. We are all on our phones. We work long hours. Kids are on devices. Kids have scheduled play dates. Kids have limited freedom. It doesn’t seem right. Kids don’t seem to be kids these days.
Do you have kids in the neighborhood that are roughly the same age as your children? Do the kids play often? Do you have to schedule their playtime in advance? Strange, isn’t it? In the 80’s, there was no scheduling. Maybe because there were no smartphones. Kids simply showed up at your door and asked you to play. You craved those moments. You ran outside. You grabbed other friends. The crew rode bikes. The crew played games. The crew eventually went inside to someone’s house and screamed with joy.
Nowadays, this type of play is nonexistent. Don’t get me wrong, my children have play dates. What they miss is the informality of play. They miss the freedom. There is always a clock. We are more scheduled these days. We can’t sacrifice moments to let our children run around. We helicopter them. We make sure to check outside to make sure they are still in the front yard. I just don’t remember my parents doing this in the 80’s. In fact, I don’t think it happened at all.
I’m determined to give my children freedom similar to what I had when I grew up. I want them to have a surprise visit from their friends. I want them to have a neighborhood crew. I just want them to live innocent and simple.
Is that too much to ask? Do they have to grow up different because times have changed? Do they need rigid schedules and organized play? The answer — no.
Here’s how I’be brought the 80’s to 2019.
We allow our kids to go to the neighbor’s houses and ask them to play. We want them to get used to the idea of spontaneity and freedom. It’s taken other children, and parents, time to get used to it but it’s worked well. My son has a best friend in the neighborhood and they have their own little crew now.
I remember watching TGIF shows on Friday night with my parents. We watched Family Matters and Full House. It was a full 2 hours of TV from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. It wasn’t just about sitting in front of a screen, it was about being together as a family.
In 2019, this is difficult. There aren’t many shows you can watch as a family. Kids have their cartoons and we have our Netflix series. This makes it difficult to watch TV with your children. I refuse to lose that bonding time. We look for movies we watched when we were children. My children love the Coneheads. Though that’s technically a 90’s movie, it’s something we can all watch together. We also watch B
We had freedom as children in the 80’s. Our parents weren’t helicopter parents. It seemed as if they were too busy with other things that we were left to fend for ourselves. I was 5 when I was riding my tricycle with the neighborhood crew. I had an older brother and we were always outside. We came home from school, ate, and went back out until dinner time. We knew when to come home. Our parents didn’t look out the window for us. They trusted us. We had freedom and were responsible because of it.
This is hard to do these days. I give my children as much freedom as I can. They play outside. I try not to look out the window. It’s hard but I need them to know they have to make the right and wrong decisions. I need to trust them to not abuse their freedom, and I need to have faith that someone won’t drive buy and snatch them.
This is all encompassing. By trying to focus on the areas above, I am trying to make my children’s childhood simple. I don’t want unnecessary anxiety or stress. They shouldn’t be consumed with responsibility. They should enjoy the simplicity of childhood. No addiction to devices or screens. It’s hard to control but we try our best. The simpler I keep their childhood, the more I allow them to enjoy it. We take them hiking often. There is nothing simpler than playing with a stick on a trail.
It’s not easy forcing the 80’s way of life in 2019, but I feel good about it. I feel like I am giving my children the childhood they deserve. I take pride in it and am hopeful they will have many fond memories as a result.