Old School Summertime: Ways to Bring it Back

Today, summers are often filled with busy schedules and digital distractions. But it doesn’t have to be that way. By embracing the simplicity of summers past, we can create a more relaxed and enjoyable season for ourselves and our families. Today I’m talking about how to bring back that nostalgic magic and simplify your summer routine.

I’ve been feeling rather nostalgic these days. I miss the summers from years past – the slow days, children running outside, and picnics in the backyard. Children had long afternoons playing outside, neighborhood gatherings, and the freedom to explore.

Today I picked up the latest copy of Country Living Magazine and the title wooed me: Old School Summers. Ahhh, boy did that strike a chord in me!

Summer used to feel different… ya know? For those of us who grew up in the 80s and 90s, it meant long days spent outside, riding bikes, playing tag, and eating popsicles that stained our tongues bright colors.

We didn’t have smartphones or streaming services to keep us indoors. Instead, we made our own fun with neighborhood friends, our imaginations, and the great outdoors. It was a time when summer felt endless and uncomplicated.

In fact, even for my kids, technology didn’t have the grip on family life the way it often seems to these days. My husband and I didn’t let our kids have phones until they were 17 or 18 years old so there just wasn’t this constant fight against technology and social media that I see families struggling with today.

Me (front) Hannah (right) and Laura (top)

I made my kids go play outside! We spent several days a week at the pool and having picnics outside and hiking and camping and having fun. I want that same summer magic for your family.

This past weekend I went tubing down the Ocoee River with some of my girls and it was so much fun! I highly recommend.

Old School Summertime: Ways to Bring it Back

I can’t be the only one yearning for those simpler days. What if we could bring back a little of that nostalgia and simplicity into our current summer routines? Here’s how you can add some of that magic back:

1. Unplug and Go Outside

In the past, summer was synonymous with being outdoors. This summer, make it a goal to spend more time outside. Plan regular family outings to the park, beach, or even just your backyard. Leave the devices at home and reconnect with nature and each other.

I love being outside. I spend time outside almost every day. It’s just so good for you! And the benefits to your health are greater than you probably realize!

  • Boosts Vitamin D Levels: Sunlight exposure helps produce Vitamin D, crucial for bone health and immune function.
  • Improves Mood and Reduces Stress: Nature can lower stress and anxiety while boosting overall mood.
  • Enhances Physical Fitness: Outdoor activities improve cardiovascular health and build muscle strength.
  • Supports Mental Health: Time in nature reduces symptoms of depression and anxiety.
  • Promotes Better Sleep: Natural light helps regulate your sleep cycle for better rest.
My (right to left) daughters Emily, Hannah, Laura and Granddaughter Abbie (far left)

2. Simplify Your Schedule

Back in the day, we didn’t have packed schedules or endless obligations. As a stay at home mom I always had control over how we spent our time. If you are struggling with days that are busier than you’d like, try to minimize commitments and leave room for spontaneous fun. Clear your calendar of unnecessary appointments and make room for relaxation and unplanned adventures.

  • Prioritize Key Activities: Focus on a few important activities each week. Let go of less critical tasks to create more free time for relaxation and family.
  • Create a Flexible Routine: Establish a loose daily routine that allows for spontaneous fun. Avoid over-scheduling to leave room for unplanned adventures.
  • Limit Commitments: Say no to extra obligations and events that don’t add value to your summer. Concentrate on activities that bring joy and fulfillment.
  • Batch Similar Tasks: Group similar tasks together, like running errands on one day or meal prepping for the week, to save time and reduce stress.
  • Delegate Responsibilities: Share household chores and responsibilities with family members. Involve everyone in maintaining the home to lighten your load.

3. Revisit Old-School Games and Activities

Remember the games and activities you loved as a child? Introduce your family to them. Play hide and seek, set up a slip-and-slide, or have a water balloon fight.

These simple pleasures can bring a lot of joy and create lasting memories. Revisit classics like hopscotch, tag, and building forts.

Sharing these activities not only entertains but also strengthens family bonds, fostering creativity and laughter. It’s a chance to disconnect from screens and reconnect with each other, making your summer both fun and memorable.

4. Embrace Easy, No-Fuss Meals

Summer meals used to be straightforward – think sandwiches, fruit, and easy-to-make snacks. Avoid complicated recipes and focus on easy, healthy meals that don’t require a lot of prep or cleanup. Picnic-style dining can be a fun and stress-free way to eat.

Also, the crockpot is your friend on hot summer days when you don’t feel like heating up the kitchen!

5. Limit Screen Time

Without the distraction of screens, we spent more time being active and social. Set limits on screen time for both yourself and your family to promote healthier habits. Encourage reading, outdoor play, and other non-electronic activities like board games, puzzles, and crafting.

Plan family outings and engage in hobbies that everyone enjoys. This not only fosters creativity and physical activity but also strengthens family bonds and improves overall well-being. By reducing screen time (or cutting it out altogether), you can create a more balanced and fulfilling summer for everyone.

6. Focus on Experiences, Not Things

When I was a kid, summers were defined by what we did, not what we had:

  • Focus on creating experiences rather than accumulating stuff.
  • Plan simple outings like picnics, hikes, or trips to the beach.
  • Engage in craft projects or DIY activities that everyone can enjoy.
  • Organize family game nights or backyard camping adventures.

Prioritizing these shared experiences over material possessions fosters deeper connections and creates lasting memories, making your summer more meaningful and enjoyable.

The Ringstaff Family in Harlan, Kentucky (2016)
I often host meals at our home for our family. We have picnic tables in our front yard.

8. Reconnect with Neighbors

Summers of the past were often spent with neighborhood kids and families. Make an effort to reconnect with your neighbors to recreate that sense of community. Plan a block party where everyone can bring a dish to share, or organize a BBQ in your backyard.

Even casual get-togethers like coffee mornings or evening chats can foster closer relationships. Invite neighbors over for a game night or a potluck dinner.

Building these connections not only makes your summer more enjoyable but also creates a supportive network of friends and neighbors who can enrich your family’s life year-round. By reviving the community spirit, you bring back the warmth and camaraderie of those nostalgic summer days.


By incorporating these ideas, you can bring a bit of that nostalgic summertime past into your present. Simplifying your summer routine can help you reconnect with what truly matters – family, friends, and creating lasting memories. Let’s make this summer one to remember for all the right reasons.