Give your kids a totally awesome experience with our rad how-to guide

In hopes of encouraging more time spent outside instead of in front of a screen, we’ve cozied up to the concept that a classic ’80s summer à la Stranger Things (without that whole Upside Down thing, please) is just what the doctor ordered. Keep reading to see what you’ll need to make it happen—and guess what? This is going to be the Best. Summer. Ever.

1. Encourage round-the-clock wearing of swimsuits.

They’ll be pool or sprinkler-ready all day long, AND it works wonders on the laundry pile.

2. Replace their Nintendo Switch with an Etch-a-Sketch.

3. For the older set: Find the oldest playground equipment in town and leave your kids unsupervised to play for hours.  

4. Introduce them to real card and board games.

It’s not a real game of Battleship if the board doesn’t stay on the kitchen table for at least 72 hours of intermittent play.

5. Let your kids ride around the neighborhood.

No one’s summer is complete without pedal scrapes on the insides of their ankles and a couple of scab-on-scabbed knees. Worried about free-range life in the real world? Here’s a crash course on teaching kids to make good decisions.

6. Let them watch bad TV—a lot of It.

Bonus points if it’s one of these 1980s shows that are still totally cool.

7. Drink the Kool-Aid.

All of it. Even the ones with red food dye.


8. Show them how to use the phone.

And then give them the number to Pizza Hut.

9. Send them outside with sidewalk chalk and a sprinkler.

If you need ideas, check out our favorite ways to play with sidewalk chalk.

10. Let them eat crackers for dinner.

Remember when your mom would be lounging with her neighborhood pals while you inhaled a whole sleeve of Ritz crackers right on the sidewalk?

11. Just say NO.

To any appointments or engagements for your kids that start before 11 a.m.

12. Find a grocery store with a coin-operated ride near the door. 

13. Put bathing really, really low on the list of things to do.

You know you’ve reached authenticity when someone’s hair turns green from the chlorine.

Related: 15 Throwback Toys From Your ’80s Childhood

14. Keep a lot of Otter Pops in the freezer.

It wasn’t an ’80s summer without our friends Alexander the Grape and Louie-Bloo Raspberry.

15. Make sure their feet stay really, really dirty.

If by September they don’t freak out over splinters (or maybe they just don’t feel them), then you’ve done your job.

16. Buy Calamine lotion in bulk.

Related: 20 Foods That ’80s Kids Will Recognize

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