19 Ways to Have a Classic 1980s Summer This Year

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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-style 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. 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 1980's 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 this makes you nervous, check out these simple outdoor fun ideas to jog your memory.

10. Two words: Tanning. Oil.

Give the kids a glossy shellac of Banana Boat before sending them off to the pool (SPF 35 or higher. We're not crazy.).

11. 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?

12. Just Say NO

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


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


14. 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.


15. 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.

16. 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.

17. Ditch the haircuts, unless they happen in the kitchen.

Don't over think this. Just go with it.

18. Stay out of their rooms for days on end.

But don't be surprised if they hide an extraterrestrial in it.

19. Buy Calamine lotion in bulk.

Poison ivy, mosquito bites, chiggers, and other various ailments mean one thing: your kid is spending the right amount of time outdoors this summer.

—Shelley Massey

Featured image: Wikimedia Commons 


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