I don’t know about you, but having our biggest day of the year (Open Day) followed by our huge Shine on the Arts a week later, left me a little frazzled. I’m sure you enjoyed seeing your children perform and catching up with friends at the food trucks but let’s also admit that we are a little tired! Or is it just me?
At this time of the term, our younger students are sometimes feeling weary and our older students are often under the pump of due assignments and exams. These frazzling emotions flow over into our homes and to you, the parent and caregiver.
It’s times like this that I feel nostalgic for my own childhood, playing soccer, footy, cricket with mates at the park and riding home in the half-light. Although we lived with the very real fear of nuclear annihilation, (does anyone remember The Day After?) life did seem a lot simpler back then.
Can we go back to the ‘80s? To a time that had a little less stress and we felt a little less tired?
We don’t have a DeLorean time machine but there are five ways we can wind back time and go back to the ‘80s.
1. Act like there are no influencers
In the ‘80s we weren’t plagued by social media, influencers with perfect parenting techniques (and matching bodies) and a thousand ways to feel guilty about what we were probably doing wrong. Dedicate chunks of your life pretending that all of that doesn’t exist, leave your device in another room and see how quickly you feel relaxed and revitalised.
2. Reward/encourage outdoor play
In the ‘80s most children played outdoors but nowadays riding your bike or playing cricket struggles to compete with all the indoor entertainment available at a push of a button. Encourage more outdoor time and activities overtly and covertly. Reward outdoor play by giving them more time to play and positive reinforcement. Discourage indoor play by finding jobs for them to do and limiting their time on devices. Join them outdoors whenever possible and role model a healthy balance.
3. Quick repair jobs
If your child hurts themself, here are the likely steps a modern parent might take:
- Grab the first aid kit.
- Search the internet for more information on how to treat the problem.
- Post a photo on social media to gain unsolicited advice from others.
- Reshare the photo in message chats to let others know (so they don’t complain about seeing it on social media first).
- Call the emergency number to get more advice. 5. Put the child to bed with snacks, a device to watch shows and lots of stuffed animals.
However, If you were a parent in the ‘80s, you would simply make sure there wasn’t too much blood and send them back outside. The children survived and were actually more resilient so this back to the ‘80s tip is good for everyone.
4. Shake it off.
This tip can be summed up in the title of a Taylor Swift song. Back in the ‘80s, children still experienced failure, disappointment and embarrassment but their parents just told them to shake it off and get on with life. It was just as painful as it is today for our own children but our response to that pain determines whether it is magnified and prolonged or a temporary setback to be used to increase resilience. We should still acknowledge and empathise with our children’s emotional pain but point them toward the future and move on.
5. ‘Stuff’ as a last resort.
We might be time-poor but most of us are richer than many parents in the ‘80s. Our children don’t know what it is like to go without and this is a blessing and a potential curse. It is wonderful that we can feed and clothe our children and send them to a good school but the trap we fall into is to buy ‘stuff’ to fix problems that could be solved in other ways.
Think about your last six trips to the shops or your last 12 eBay visits. How many could be avoided by a little problem-solving or repair job? Fixing something together provides bonding time, increases confidence in your child, serves as a learning experience and even helps the environment in the process. It might be time to revisit or learn some old-fashioned skills like darning socks or repairing toys before rushing out or jumping online to replace old for new.
Do we even need a time machine?
While we may not have a time machine to transport us back to the ’80s, there is nothing stopping us from embracing some of the things that worked for parents four decades ago.
By adopting these ’80s-inspired practices, we can create a less stressful and more balanced lifestyle for ourselves and our families, nurturing a sense of simplicity, resilience, and connection. Let’s embrace these timeless principles and bring a touch of the ’80s into our lives today!
Mike Curtis, Principal