The parents of the 1980’s had it made. They didn’t worry about scarring their kids or feeling guilty for throwing cake on a table and calling it a birthday party. I’m getting back to the parenting techniques I was raised on, and I’m loving it. Here’s how.

1. Set up the playpen.

See, there’s a reason our parents put us in playpens. Because it made sense, and it made their lives easier.

Like all 80’s parenting techniques, it’s not about being nice, fair or even socially-acceptable. It’s about surviving the day, with no guilt, because you are getting the job done.

And so, a couple weeks back, when my toddler broke an entire wine bottle on our tile floor at 7:15am, that was it. I went into the closet, grabbed our pack ‘n play and set it up in the living room, where it’s now a permanent fixture.


Literally, it’s amazing.

No shame.

It works.

(And it’s really awesome to go to take a shower without worrying that glass will be shattered or TVs will be broken by a $2 toy sword.)

2. Don’t go to every single class party, and don’t feel bad about it.

Every school year, there are an average of 5 class parties per year. If you have 3 kids, that’s 15 parties. That’s 15 hours of time per year, spent going to something where there are other responsible adults watching your children.

Fun to do if you can? Sure.

But if you can’t, oh well.

Here’s a question: Did your mom feel guilty for not coming to your class parties?


None of the parents did.

If you can’t go, don’t.

They’ll be fine.

3. Dinners are non-nutritious, easy-to-make kid food.

That’s right.

My dinners aren’t well-rounded or locally-sourced. In fact, if I’m being honest, my kids never eat organic, and there are days when they don’t even see a vegetable.

Oh well. They are alive.

Seriously, what did you eat when you were a kid?

For me, it was a steady stream of spaghetti, hamburger meat and mac ‘n cheese with either hot dog or tuna in it. And we loved it.

Seriously. When I was a kid, the only thing “organic” was mulch.

The end.

4. Packed lunches are processed foods and no-guilt.

I mean… seriously, with lunches these days. Bento boxes and fresh fruit and vegetables and organic chicken and special yogurt. Does it really have to be that complicated?

(If you do all of that, well done! But if you don’t, it’s fine.)

Listen up. You’re still a great parent, even if you’re not able to make a nutritious, well-rounded lunch from scratch every day.


But parents in the 80’s didn’t need anyone to tell them that.

What’d they pack for your lunches?

Chances are, it was a bologna or peanut butter and jelly sandwich with pre-packaged Cheetos or Doritos, a bag of cookies and a sugary drink like Squeezit, Hi-C or Capri Sun, all squished into a brown paper bag. The bread was usually smashed by the time you ate it, and the drink was room temperature.

But you ate it.

And you loved it.

5. Holidays are not elaborate. 

Back in the day, birthday parties meant cake and ice cream after dinner. No one expected a bounce house and a catered lunch.

Halloween was a simple costume your mom made with stuff she already had at home. If not, it was a hand-me-down from your older sibling or the neighbor kid. You wore it twice, not 14 times (because you weren’t invited to 14 different Halloween parties and get-togethers).

Easy, simple, no-frills.

No fuss.

6. Kids play independently, and without you.

I don’t know about you, but I spent hours of my childhood running in the sprinklers, playing baseball in the neighborhood kids, and making up imaginary games with my siblings.

Did my mom feel guilty for letting us play safely and independently, for hours? Of course not.

There was no such thing as a playdate.

Kids were just kids.

Just let them play, and don’t feel bad about it!

Below is a picture of me when I was about 2, and in my opinion, it’s 1980’s parenting at its best. My mom didn’t care that I was naked in a baby pool in our front yard. It was a win-win because I was having fun, and she was getting some gardening done. Do what works for you, and just go with it! #noshame

prom dresses

What are your favorite 80’s parenting techniques? Share them in the comments section below.