10 Family Bonding Activities From the '80s Our Kids Are Missing Out On

arcadeEmbarrassing confession time! My husband and I are parents who like to stay busy with our daughter. We do trips to hockey games, Broadway plays, museums ... We're always looking for something to DO with our kid. And it's only just dawning on us that we've been missing out big time by ignoring all the good old sources of family entertainment that just about every family in the '80s indulged in. 

Hold on, let me back up. We were watching Wreck-It Ralph with our daughter (disclaimer, I got a free copy of the DVD on a Disney trip for Oz) and realized that half the video game references were going straight over her head. Some were just really old and meant to give us adults something to chuckle over. But just as many required something we had never done as a family: a trip to the arcade.

It made us a little sad, but it was also one of those light bulb moments for us.


We (the collective we ... as in all parents) gripe and groan about how kids are so tied up in computers and getting the next big thing. But we (my husband and I and plenty of other parents) feed into it. We're always looking for something new to do with them, something to blow their socks off.

What about all the stuff that blew our socks off? Our kids are missing out on the good "old-fashioned" (God, it hurts to say that word about something I did 25 years ago) fun we absolutely adored. And for what? Because it's not new?

I did an informal survey of other parents to find out what they loved to do as a kid and are sad to admit they don't do with their kids (at least not often enough). The list they came up with is my new bucket list:

1. Drive-In. They're getting harder to find, but they do still exist, and there is nothing that beats watching a movie in the car with the whole family. Try it some time!

2. Bowling. We have a spiffed up new bowling alley in my town, and I'm embarrassed to say we don't go enough! 

3. Roller Skating. I'm bound and determined to find a rink near us.

4. Ice Skating. Ditto! We took her to her first minor league hockey game recently, but if they'd invited the kids onto the ice, she would have been lost!

5. Book Store. What, that's not entertainment? Apparently you've been buying books on an e-reader way too long. I could spend hours wandering the shelves when I was a kid, trying to decide on that ONE book that I'd be allowed to buy.

6. Mini Golf. My husband has taken our daughter to play putt putt (as he calls it -- it's a Southern thing), but many parents admit they haven't gone since they were kids.

7. Board Games. We are devotees of family game night in my household, but a few parents admitted they haven't played one in years. I can't suggest this one loudly enough.

8. Horseback Riding. Other than a pony ride at a friend's birthday party, my daughter has never been on a horse. And yet she's a die-hard My Little Pony fan. Seems like Mom has some serious catching up to do.

9. Penny Socials (also called Tricky Trays, Chinese Auctions, etc.). This one took me waaaaaay back. Do you remember Saturday nights in a church or firehall with the pile of tickets in your hand, just waiting for your number to be called so you could collect your hard-won piece of junk?

10. Arcade. Hey, I mentioned it before, so it has to make the list! It's time to step beyond the handheld game console, and I don't mean taking Mom's iPhone out to play a game during dinner at a restaurant.

Come on, add yours ... what "old-fashioned" entertainments did you love as a kid that you have totally forgotten to share with your kids?


Image via Rob Boudon/Flickr

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