7 Old-Timey Summer Past Times I Need To Do With My Kids

shutterstock_106611089__1372854302_74.134.205.46As much as I am pretty much already annoyed with summer, I’ve been thinking lately about how summer sucks for my kids compared to how it used to be in the way back, as in the way way back when I was a kid. Most of my favorite childhood memories have to do with summer, and when I think about ALL OF THE BEST times I had I realize that my own kids have done none of the things I did when I was young that were totally amaze and awesome and beyond fun. One thing I always try to do as a parent is create a sense of wonder and magic in my kid’s life, and I’m a firm believer in making memories. I think I do an excellent job of this on holidays and birthdays, but on a day to day basis – between work and housework and cooking and all those fun day to day reality tasks I’ve totally dropped the ball on shoving some magic into my kid’s summer.This changes now.

I don’t know how my own parents did it. Maybe it’s because things were different back then, we didn’t have tablets and apps and television channels devoted to non-stop children’s programming and I’m sure my parents had to be more creative in coming up with ways to amuse me and my sisters. But all I know is that my kids aren’t creating memories by plowing virtual farms or watching The Disney Channel. Yeah, we have a pool, and they love swimming but they are still missing out on so many things that I did as a kid that I’ve totally decided they also need to do.

So here are my new summer commandments. Let’s do this shiz.

My Kids Need To Make Popsicles 

Do any of you remember Time For Timer or am I totally dating myself here? We did this all the time when I was little. No fancy Zoku popsicle makers when I was growing up, it was all ice cube trays and OJ and toothpicks. And it was the best. Yeah, Timer here may be a little dated and creepy (“Whatever turns you on” what?) but this was one of the funnest things to do ever.

 My Kids Need A Sprinkler 


(Photo: amazon)

And not just any sprinkler, but something absurd and goofy with tentacles that sprays water. Or a Slip N Slide. Yeah, I know they ruin your grass and are a bitch to keep clean and it will end up growing mold in the garage but there is nothing like running around in water on a sweltering day. I can even remember drinking out of a hose and how the VERY BEST WATER ON EARTH (no, it is not Evian, sorry) is HOSEY WATER. The way it has a vaguely mineral taste, how freezing cold it is coming straight from the spicket, man I love me some hosey water.

My Kids Need To Stay Outside Way Too Late Playing 


(Photo:  2xSamara.com/shutterstock)

Ghosts in the graveyard. Kick the bucket. Flashlight tag. TV tag. Growing up, all the adults used to sit outside drinking beer and talking while all of us kids made way too much noise after dark, running around and playing all these games. Is this even allowed anymore? Would neighbors call the cops on us if my kids were running around at ten at night? All I know is these spontaneous outside games after dark with neighborhood kids were some of the most fun times ever.

My Kids Need To Go To A Drive-in Movie 

Growing up we had this beat up old wood-panneled station wagon and my parents would put us all into our PJ’s and we would go to the drive-in. We would sit on the hood of the car with blankies and eat tons of popcorn and Milk-duds and it’s so sad there are so few drive-ins left. I think the closest one to us is about two hours away, but I can totally get a projector and screen some movies in my backyard. We did this last year and watched Super 8 projected onto my garage and my kids still talk about it. It basically cost no money except for treats and popcorn and the kids loooooooved it.

My Kids Need To Catch Something With A Pole 


Natalia Kirichenko/shutterstock)

I’m more of a frozen corn girl than a live bait girl, but my kids totally need to go fishing. They have never been. I don’t like eating fish, and we will probably throw back anything we catch, and I know it’s mean to fish and hook the poor little fishes and traumatize them just for amusement but I still want my kids to go fishing. Sitting on a dock or riding on a pontoon with a cooler full of drinks and fishing? SO much fun. Please don’t call PETA on me.

 My Kids Need To Play Pinball 


(Photo: Giantbomb.com)

I grew up in bars. My parents owned bars when I was little, and my sisters and I could basically play pinball before we walked. A lot of my happiest memories involve pinball, and I think my own kids have maybe played once or twice. The trick is finding a bar that isn’t too scary, has machines, and allows kids. It will also hopefully have an amazing jukebox with everything from The Shirelles to Bowie to The Replacements on it. And decent tap beer. And a bartender who knows how to make a Shirley Temple. And really good french fries. Yeah, I’m that mom who will be totally trying to find a decent pinball bar with my kids this summer.

My Kids Need To Go To A Garage Sale 


(Photo: Paul McKinnon/shutterstock)

Just as soon as I finish cleaning out and donating stuff from my own basement! I never brake for garage sales, but I’m going to start keeping cash on hand and letting my kids hunt for treasures because garage sales are so much fun for kids. My own parents always used to let us go to garage sales when I was a kid and having your own money and being allowed to pick out whatever you want from someone’s discarded stuff is magic time for kids. I’ll ban used stuffed animals but they can totally buy whatever else they want.

I can think of many other things I need to do with my kids (Sleeping outside! Grilling corn! Berry picking!) but I want to hear your ideas too. I can’t be the only parents who is getting bogged down by the day to day and remembering how much fun things used to be when I was a kid. And now I have a Slip N Slide to buy.

(Photo:  Ramona Heim/shutterstock)

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  • Véronique Houde

    We used to have a wooded area next to my house (it was HUGE to our standards, pretty tiny to others’). My mom never let us go (but we still would lol) and we used to play hide-and-seek in the shrubs there. There was a beaten down tree that we called the boomerang and would climb on, and there was this totally NOT SAFE tree house that was three stories high that we would climb. We would also go pick the berries that lined the tracks next to the woods. The woods had so many memories for us, and even if my mom was afraid that people would abduct us there, only kids and people walking their dogs would ever venture there, and we had soooo much fun!

    • http://Mommyish.com/ Eve Vawter

      That sounds amaze

    • LiteBrite

      We had a wooded area in the front of our house. It was perfect for hiding out and climbing trees. We also had a larger wooded areat in the back, which was great for going on Bigfoot hunts. (We never found him though.) And my mom had raspberry and blueberry bushes that we’d pick from as well as the garden where you could get fresh chives.

      It’s the little things you remember and miss sometimes.

  • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

    Juice Popsicles for the kids, booze Popsicles for you!

    • http://Mommyish.com/ Eve Vawter

      I always have issues getting the booze to freeze ratio right

    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      I’ve been using the Bud Light Limearitas or Straw-ber-itas. They freeze perfectly and taste amazing.

    • Rachel Sea

      Dark and Stormy popcicles: 2oz dark rum, 1 can ginger beer, 2 twists of lime. Amazeballs.

    • http://Mommyish.com/ Eve Vawter

      MORE booze recipes please

    • Rachel Sea

      Tipsy Watermelon popsicles: 2 oz vodka, 16 oz pureed fresh watermelon

      Mint Julep popsicles: make a simple syrup mint tea by making fresh simple syrup (1 cup sugar, 2 cups water), and simmering it gently on the stove with either 2 oz of finely chopped fresh mint or 2 mint teabags, until the liquid is pale green and fragrant. Cool in fridge before adding 2 oz bourbon.

    • Rachel Sea

      French 75 popsicle: 8oz white grape juice, 2 oz gin, 1 oz lemon juice.

    • http://Mommyish.com/ Eve Vawter

      Rachel is now the official Mommyish mixologist

    • Rachel Sea

      They call me a Professor of Alcohology.

  • CMJ

    Send them all up to MI and WDJ would be happy to take everyone fishing! (No really, it would make his day.)

    • http://Mommyish.com/ Eve Vawter

      Don’t tempt meeee

    • momjones

      No, really…he lives to take kids fishing. He’ll even get them Doritos (just watch you don’t get the cheese on the cushions, right C?) and let them drink sweetened tea from a Mason jar. Then, when they get back, I’ll make Vernors floats.

  • LiteBrite

    I agree with you on the popiscle making and staying out too late playing. Hell, the kid needs to get outside period. It just needs to stop freaking raining.

    But good luck on the drive-ins. All the ones around here have closed or will be closing soon. :(

    • http://Mommyish.com/ Eve Vawter

      I tried to link at you at my comment above :(

  • http://www.facebook.com/RetiredSceneQueen Emmali Lucia

    You need to go to the beach, I don’t know where you live but there should be a lake or river near you, go to the beach and make the kids play volleyball with a huge beach ball and throw them in the freezing cold water on the hottest day of the year.

    My mother and I used to go rafting all the time and whenever I started being a brat she’d toss me out and make me swim for a bit.

    • http://Mommyish.com/ Eve Vawter

      Plus, playing in sand!

    • Véronique Houde

      I love going to the beach near my house, but it’s on a lake and my boyfriend’s a total lake-beach snob since he grew up on the mediterranean. Booo him. But I totally am craving to see my baby’s butt in the sand :D

  • Véronique Houde

    An awesome game I once played was something like Capture the Flag, but in the dark at summer camp. We had to dress all in black and try to sneak passed the other team to get to base camp without getting caught. I ADORED that game and really want to have the opportunity to host it with the kids when they’re old enough – perhaps at a summer cottage :).

    • http://Mommyish.com/ Eve Vawter

      brb, grabbing @disqus_auQjJJnxBW:disqus so we can all go rent a cottage

    • Véronique Houde


    • http://Mommyish.com/ Eve Vawter

      so much fun. My family had a cabin growing up and a pontoon boat and it was the best. we need a fire pit!

    • Véronique Houde

      duh on the firepit, it’s not a cottage without one ;)

    • http://Mommyish.com/ Eve Vawter

      and a swimming floating dock thingy! this is sorta kinda turning into the script for Friday the 13th

    • Véronique Houde

      yeah well, any cottage vacation planned with the mommyish crowd is bound to become our kid’s worse nightmares ;)

    • LiteBrite

      Will alcohol be provided? Who’s bringing the chips?

    • Véronique Houde

      I’ll make the guacamole. :) And bring some awesome beer from quebec ’cause we rock at making beer. And wine. And digestives. And aperitifs. Heck, I’ll bring my entire alcohol cabinet and it’s pretty extensive!

    • http://twitter.com/mariaguido Maria Guido

      That’s my kind of camping. I’m in.

  • bludab

    We’ve done a lot of this so far this summer with my kids, 6 and 9 -set up the slip n slide (they had so much fun it was ridiculous) and every Saturday we go yard-saleing (the girls love finding jewelry and porcelain dolls). They made ice cream though instead of popsicles, with my sister last week; and we introduced some new friends to fishing after we rented a paddleboat and got to the middle of the lake. For us, it’s the fact that so much of this is low-cost as we don’t have a ton of money. Also, we don’t have a tablet or cable, so unless we give them access to our work laptops (a very rare occasion saved for rainy days) they usually have to play outside with bikes, frisbees, etc, or risk being bored and told to go clean their rooms!

    • http://Mommyish.com/ Eve Vawter

      brb, packing to move in. Parenting: UR doin it rite

  • Paul White

    Hey, fish you catch and kill and clean taste the best! It’s awesome. But messy.

  • Ana

    Talking about the hose reminded me of washing the dogs in the backyard. They get all soapy and shake it everywhere and the kids scream and chase them around with the hose…good times. If you don’t have a dog you could offer to wash a neighbor’s (assuming it’s kid friendly).

    Also, horseback riding.

  • Véronique Houde

    OOOh another: pitching a tent in the backyard and spending the night with your buddies – outdoor sleep overs are the best :)

  • Steve Sabol

    I know it’s not the same, but my girls love the Pinball Arcade app on their iPad and our Mac (also on iPhone/iPod Touch, Android, PS3, soon on XBOX360, PC, and Wii U)… Star Trek: The Next Generation, Creature from the Black Lagoon, and The Twilight Zone (the three in the pic) are all available for in-app purchase.


    • http://Mommyish.com/ Eve Vawter

      Thank you! I will totally get this. Do they have Fun House?

    • Steve Sabol



      (Video is Xbox360 version)

      They’re now in their second year of releasing 2 new tables each month and they’re currently running a Kickstarter for the licenses to Terminator 2: Judgment Day. (They Kickstarted TZ and ST:TNG as well… They’ve hinted Addams Family will be the next Kickstarter.)


    • http://Mommyish.com/ Eve Vawter

      THIS IS THE BEST NEWS EVER! I am so psyched, the weather is POURING here so this is perfect. Have you tried the Little Inferno yet? It’s on Ipad and the wii etc. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9noiX-1Jgnw

    • Allyson_et_al

      Oh my God! FUN HOUSE! Both my college and my law school had this table, which is why I never, ever made dean’s list. Now I need to buy one for my basement.

    • http://Mommyish.com/ Eve Vawter

      I have REALLY been considering it, like for a few years, only because I think the work on tables is bad, like they cost a lot if you have to fix them. I will say I downloaded the app @steve_sabol:disqus mentioned above and it is AWESOME. It’s pretty much pinball, and for my Ipad it plays really well

  • SusannahJoy

    Smores until you’re puking, obviously. Does it get any better than fire and chocolate and burnt marshmallows until past your bedtime? And faerie hunting! My mom and I used to go for walks anywhere there was plants and look for faerie homes. We started when I was little, but continued, well, until now. We still point out good faerie homes.

  • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

    Okay, might just be me, but how about staying up all night reading a good book?

    • Katherine Handcock

      Oh, I’ll totally second you on this one! The best thing about summer for me was Mom and Dad saying, “Eh, what does it matter, you don’t have to be up tomorrow.” A novel every couple of days, followed by sleeping in way late…and then, waking up, making a nest out of the sheets and blanket and starting the next one!

    • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty


  • allison

    Pastime. Not past time. Get an editor.

  • Carmen

    Hosey water is definitely the best! We also used to play neighborhood baseball games. We’d go door to door collecting just about any kid from 6-12 years old and when there were enough of us it was game on.

    VBS (vacation bible school) was also an awesome week.

  • Psych Student

    Evening family bike rides around the neighborhood. Especially when we saw houses that were being built. We’d walk through them and we’d talk about what room was what and such. It was a blast!

  • sam

    Weenie roast. one cheap pack of weiners, store brand buns, catchup and mustard probably already in your fridge (and maybe slaw and onions for the adults), koolaid or sweet tea, and a fire at dark. And of course, you finish with roasting marshmallows. Cheap, fun and a memory.

  • Pingback: 7 Old-Timey Summer Past Times With Kids | John the Toymaker – Musings on children and their toys()

  • offred

    It’s “spigot.”
    But you’re right, the best-tasting water in the world is water from an outdoor hose.
    I remember having a nasty case of bronchitis in high school. The only water I could tolerate was cold water from the garden hose.

  • DearTuffy

    Catching fireflies/lightening bugs at dusk. For those of you who live in areas that have them, I hear the Pacific Northwest doesnt. They fly just slow and low enough to catch in cupped hands. We’d put them in jars to watch them for a few minutes, but always let them go.

  • Melissa O

    Ugh, I get so cranky with the heat I don`t want to do anything, but I`ve discovered I`m shortchanging not just the kids but also ME by not doing more simple fun stuff. I took my nephew-slash-son on a nature walk the other day (he`s two), and we looked for bugs and birds and collected rocks and leaves and even climbed a little bit up an especially sturdy and low-branched old oak. We were gone for an hour and there was no whining or tantrums which let me tell you is a MAJOR ACCOMPLISHMENT these days. But I just think of some of the ‘fun stuff’ I used to do as a kid (hay bale jumping, shooting cans, driving the farm truck, quad, or other heavy machinery, jumping out of the barn loft) and I cringe at the thought of my niece, who is now the exact same age as I was then, doing any of it. Hypocrite? Who, me?