As ‘90s kids, we played outside until the streetlights came on. We didn’t have smartphones—most of us didn’t even have flip phones, for that matter—so we did weird things like host lip syncing contests and try to make fried ice cream on the stove (spoiler alert: it resulted a pool of melted ice cream).
The reason ‘90s summers were the best summers was because it was summer and we were kids. There is something inherently magical about summer when you're a kid, especially when they are lazy summers.
We rode our bikes everywhere. We walked around the neighborhood until we found another kid our age who wanted to play (or “hang out”, if we were a little older). If we were really lucky, our parents might drop us off at the mall with our allowance money and a promise to pick us up in eight hours. We hung out at the roller rink on Friday nights. We got dirty and ate too much sugar. We got really, really bored sometimes.
Yes, ‘90s summers were the best summers. (In a close tie with ‘80s summers, in my humble opinion.) When we talk about the summers of our youth, we often do so with the wistful sigh of nostalgia. We want our kids to experience that same magic. And they can. It is possible to recreate the magic of our childhood summers for our kids too.
How to recreate the magic of summer in the '90s
- Stock up on cheap popsicles, preferably the kind that come in the plastic wrapper and in boxes of 100.
- Turn on the sprinkler, slather your kids up with sunscreen, and send them to the backyard.
- Find your favorite childhood movies, like the “The Sandlot” and “My Girl”, and watch them with your kids.
- Host a sleepover. Bonus points for pulling out all the blankets and letting the kids make a fort and sleep in the living room.
- Schedule a “yes day”.
- Then schedule a “screen-free, no-plans day”. Get bored and see what weird things happen.
- Buy a cheap Polaroid camera and encourage your kids to take tons of pics. Make a collage at the end of the summer.
- Ride bikes around the neighborhood until your kids find someone to play with.
- Go to the pool—the public pool. Skip baths for a week in favor of a little chlorine cleansing.
- Make friends with the driver of the ice cream truck.
- Teach your kids the delight of drinking water from the hose after playing outside for hours.
- Let your kids play in the sandbox. Delight in their dirty feet.
- Make a block party happen.
- Turn off the A/C for the day. Mother Nature will thank you too.
- Have cereal for dinner.
- Play ghosts in the graveyard and look for fireflies.
- Watch cartoons with commercials.
- Grab a blanket and read books sprawled out on the lawn.
- Pick wildflowers.
- Embrace “lazy parenting” and enjoy the inherent magic that comes with childhood in the summer.
The reason ‘90s summers were the best summers was because it was summer and we were kids. There is something inherently magical about childhood summers, especially when they are lazy summers. When they are wide open and (relatively) unscheduled, when kids can get dirty and run amok, and when parents can loosen the reins on our parenting ideals a bit.
So relax, kick back, and let the joys of childhood summer take over for a while. Then one day our kids will have the same wistful and nostalgic sigh when they talk about how the summers of their childhood were the best summers.