It's Time to Bring Back the Vintage Summer: Here's 10 Ways to Do It
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I'm part of that weird in-between generation that some people call "Xennials", "The Oregon Trail Generation", or "Generation Catalano"...you know, the one that still remembers rotary phones with cords, pay phones, playing outside until the street lamps came on, library card catalogs, and that the "#" sign used to mean something other than "hashtag". But I'm also part of the very first generation to see personal computers, the internet, cell phones, digital cameras, and high-definition tv's. Some of you may remember this 2015 article by Anna Garvey that instantly went viral for bringing this strange juxtaposition to our attention.
What I love about being a part of this "micro-generation" is that we literally saw the best of both worlds. The inventions of cell phones and laptop computers were world-changing, but we are lucky enough to still have fond memories of THE most amazing childhoods that existed before all that came to be. Which is why we love to reminisce on what life was like "back in the day" and we especially love to do it in front of those "youngster" millennials that came after us. "Life was hard back then, y'all...okay?"
So, I thought that with summer being in full bloom, it might be fun to share some of my favorite childhood memories of vintage summers gone-by and maybe even consider it a bucket list of sorts, for a slower family summer with our own kiddos. Starting with,
1. Running through the sprinkler, flinging ourselves on a Slip-and-Slide, hurling water balloons, or just spraying each other with the water hose.
Why it was such a big deal: Because it was HOT. And we certainly weren't able to afford a pool or even to take regular trips to the community pool. This was how we kept cool (and ultimately how we kept ourselves alive) because staying inside all day just wasn't an option.
How to bring it back for your kids: Well, that's easy...because these things still exist, you guys! If you want to go straight up old-school, just grab a regular ol' sprinkler. But if you want to take it up a notch, try a splash pad. Then, of course, there's the Slip-n-Slide and check out these water balloons that inflate in less than 60-seconds and self-seal!
2. Sweet tea...preferably on the back porch.
Why it was such a big deal: Ummm...does this really need an explanation? How about, because it's the sweet, sweet nectar of the south and summer just wouldn't be summer without it, alright?
How to bring it back for your kids: I honestly don't think this one ever went away. BUT, I think in this day and age of trying to eat better/be healthier/teach our kids to live a healthy lifestyle, we see it as more of a "special treat" than we did in our households growing up. So, my advice? Just make the tea! Maybe not every day, but make it! Then sit back, sip, and enjoy every minute of it. But maybe moderate it a bit for the kiddos...because caffeine.
3. Build a treehouse or fort (yes, pillow forts count!)
Why it was such a big deal: What kid doesn't want a place to run away to that is all their own?
How to bring it back for your kids: Just play! Give them permission to go ahead and take all the pillows, cushions, and blankets off the couches then help them make something great. If you're the handy-type, get outside with them and have fun building something that will last for many summers to come. And don't forget to get in there and enjoy it with them too!
4. Homemade ice cream, popsicles, or frozen fresh fruit.
Why it was such a big deal: Again, because it was HOT. And they're delicious and the flavor options are never-ending. We didn't do this much in our house, but I had plenty of fun with it at friends' houses...and my husband STILL talks about the frozen peaches they would make as a family, after spending the day picking them fresh in Fredericksburg.
How to bring it back for your kids: Try this Food Network Homemade Peach Ice Cream recipe (or use any fruit, really); you'll need an ice cream maker. Or try these popsicle molds, filled with your favorite fruit juice or...(dare I say it?) favorite flavor of Kool-Aid. If you're feeling like a slightly healthier copy-cat recipe, try these Outshine Strawberry Fruit Bars from The Pin Junkie.
5. Watch cartoons...but be intentional about it.
Why it was such a big deal: Because it was just pure, nonsensical fun! In those days, not everything was educational...I mean, we didn't take a page out of Wile E. Coyote's book and go around dropping anvils on wildlife, did we?
How to bring it back for your kids: SIT DOWN and watch some old-school cartoons with your kids. Don't just put it on in the background; actually sit, watch, and let yourself laugh! They will remember it when they're older, just like we do!
6. Read a book.
Why it was such a big deal: Because it was the only way to lose ourselves in another world. There was no internet to plug into and with the exception of early morning/late afternoon cartoons, the tv was mostly filled with "grown-up shows", of which we weren't the least bit interested. It was our escape.
How to bring it back for your kids: Make it a priority. I'm sure we all read to our kids occasionally at nap time, bedtime, or just for a bit of quiet in the middle of a crazy day. But, we don't always do it as often as we should. If you have older kids, why not choose a favorite book from your childhood to read together? Charlotte's Web, Black Beauty, or The Chronicles of Narnia, anyone?
7. Build a pallet on the living room floor and have a slumber party.
Why it was such a big deal: I don't know about how you grew up, but back when I was a kid there wasn't a single person in our extended family that had a guest room in their house. If we were sleeping over, we were sleeping on pallets made of about ten blankets stacked on top of each other, on the living room floor. It was special because we were together...and we had that giant living room tv all to ourselves after the grown-ups went to sleep and super convenient access to the kitchen and all its snacks!
How to bring it back for your kids: Pick a night on a weekend and do it! No bedtimes, no saying, "no" to more snacks...just binge watch the Disney movies on your pallets, eat all the food, and pass out...right there with them. You know they won't last longer than midnight or so anyway so what's the harm, really? #weremakingmemorieshere
8. Catch fireflies and stargaze.
Why it was such a big deal: Usually because it meant we were outside after dinner, which was rare. But also because...they're bugs that GLOW. How cool is that?!
How to bring it back for your kids: Let 'em stay up a bit later (maybe to coincide with that slumber party night!) and help them catch some bugs. Then spin round in circles until you can't see straight anymore and just drop to the ground to watch the sky and the stars spin. We used to call this, "spinning" and it was endless entertainment and giggles for all of us!
9. Go to a drive-in movie.
Why it was such a big deal: Again, because you were out waaaay past bedtime. And there was just something really "grown-up" about being out that late with Mom and Dad. Plus, snacks on snacks on snacks!
How to bring it back for your kids: This one might be best for the older kiddos in the family, so you'll need a sitter for the littles. Pack a cooler and a bag full of snacks and go check it out at the Stars & Stripes Drive-In Theatre in New Braunfels. Bonus points if you have a truck and take tons of pillows and blankets for a mega-cool tailgate experience!
10. Pick those summer fruits and veggies and eat them right off the vine.
Why it was such a big deal: Because they were delicious and it was just such a unique experience to be able to pick something right at its source and eat it then and there. My best friend and I would sit in her family's vegetable garden with a salt shaker and go to town on some sweet bell peppers, y'all...and to this day I still smile just thinking about it.
How to bring it back for your kids: If you're not a gardening family, locate a local orchard that allows you to "pick-your-own". Marburger Orchard in Fredericksburg is a great place to start. Just be sure to let them weigh it before you dig in. 😊
So there we have it; ten ways we can bring a bit of the best parts of our childhood right here to our own kids. Is it all completely unplugged? Nah, but neither were we! Will you make memories that your kids may hold onto well into their own adult years? You betcha.
As always, tell me what I missed: what sorts of things meant "summer" to you as a kid? And how do you go about bringing that into your own family's summer activities and traditions?
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