Analog Summer: Reliving An Old Fashioned Summer with Our Kids


Many of my best childhood summer memories were created during the late 80s and the 90s. It was an amazing time to be a kid. There were no smartphones, no tablets, and no Internet. Just a bunch of filthy kids running around trying to find the next cool thing to explore. There was minimal structure, but maximum FUN. 

This summer, I have decided to give my children the gift of an old fashioned summer. An “analog summer,” if you will. I have hidden their technology and I have implemented strict TV time rules. We all now spend much of the day outside in the backyard. I am not catering to their entertainment needs. We aren’t going to a million places. But I have stocked up on all of the summer necessities that 8-year-old me would have demanded. 

The following are the essential ingredients for a kick-ass analog or old fashioned summer:

1. Cheap popsicles in plastic tubes

Whether you call them Otter Pops, Freezer Pops, or whatever else, is it really even summer if you don’t have tiny cuts in the corner of your mouth from those plastic razor blades? If I’m not mistaken, they were engineered by NASA to give tiny children insane boosts of energy, so they could annoy their siblings more. 

2. Sprinklers

Disappointingly, I had to settle for a cheerful plastic sprinkler in the shape of a star for my dear children. Back in my day, my parents had a large, slightly rusty, and extremely sharp metal sprinkler that we would run through. It was so much fun feeling the cold water hit your skin on a hot day. Even when your feet were caked with dead grass clippings and you inevitably slipped and sliced open your foot, it was still the best time to be had. Every time. 

Pro tip: Hang your sprinkler in a tree and “make it rain.” Yeah, I’ve got mom jokes for days.

Two boys play in mud

3. Mud

My children have inherited my childhood love of mud, and I couldn’t be happier about it. If they aren’t covered from head to toe in goop at bedtime, forcing me to bathe them- have I been completely successful as an analog mother? I think not. I encourage them to use their imagination and really dig into the mud and have fun. They enjoy pretending they are bathing in Shrek’s swamp. Sometimes, they’re cooks making me the most glorious mud pies you have ever seen. Sometimes, they just love the sensory experience of rolling around in the mud. It’s all good. It’s not like there’s much else going on in this deliciously old fashioned summer.

4. Beach Days 

My parents smoked like chimneys back in the day. They also saved Marlboro Miles. In addition to bad lungs, those Marlboro Miles provided us with a fascinating array of beach items like an inflatable boat, a cooler or three, and some beach chairs which we would use on our days at the lake. We packed lunch and would stay the entire day. We would run and splash in the water. If we got too cold, we would warm up while playing catch. There were food fights when the parents weren’t looking. When it got dark, it wasn’t unusual to light bottle rockets and sparklers and gaze into a bonfire for hours. We often would return home burnt to a crisp and exhausted from so much fun.

Two boys swim in a pool in summer.

Are you thinking of trying out an old fashioned summer? What things are on your must-have list for a successful analog summer?

Looking for more ways to make your summer special? Check out…

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