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Why I am Raising My Kids Like it’s the 90’s

I am doing everything I possibly can to raise my kids like it is the 90’s.

Are my kids wearing Airwalks, JNCO jeans, and Nirvana T-shirts? Well, no.

Are they drinking surge with butterfly clips in their hair? Nope.

Are they playing pogs, with their lips slathered in Lip Smackers chapstick? Nah.

Are we listening to N’sync? I wish. However, there are other ways I am raising them like it is the 90’s.

I may be biased, but the 90’s were a great time to be a kid. It was a much simpler time. We lived on our bikes.

We communicated with our buddies by writing notes on paper. Our biggest concern was figuring out what time the neighborhood game of release or tag started. Life was simple.

My goal is to raise 90’s kids, so that they can develop the memories and friendships that I did as a kid. Deep friendships- ones that only develop from spending countless hours together inventing games to play. Before technology overload, social media drama, and selfies.

While I am raising my three children, I have noticed that the world is quite different, and if I want to give my kids the type of childhood I remember, then I have to work at it.

90s kids

My goal is to create emotionally stable kids, by making life a little more simple for them. I am dedicated to raising my three kids like it is the 90’s by parenting with these mindsets.

1) It is Okay to be Bored

Many kids in today’s society do not know what boredom feels like. They may occasionally complain that they are bored, but that is usually only for a short moment before they grab their tablet or I-pads. They don’t know what it really feels like to sit around with nothing in front of them and entertain themselves.

Try this 7 Step Method to Limit Screen Addiction.

Boredom is healthy for kids. It forces kids to use their imagination and grow. As a kid, we would spend countless hours building forts out of sticks. We would play imagination for hours and really awaken those creative parts of our brain.

2) Let them Experience a Loss

I remember playing an hour long game of Monopoly with my family. When my younger sister lost, she grabbed a corner of the game board and launched it into the air.

That was always annoying (and slightly hilarious), but it was an important part of growing up. You don’t always win. You have to learn how to lose.

Learning how to cope with a loss at a board-game prepares you for the losses that you will no doubt deal with throughout life. You will get turned down for dates, you won’t always get the job you interview for, and you won’t always have the biggest house.

You may think that letting them win every time will boost their self confidence and avoid tantrums. In reality, you are not doing them any favors in life. Let them lose and cry and flip the game board. Support them when they lose at a sport.

Allowing them to lose will give them the tools they need to cope with a loss as a kid – so that they won’t lose their minds when things don’t go their way as an adult.

3) Don’t Overload with Gifts

I remember being on vacation when I was 8 years old, and my parents let my sister and I pick out something from a gift shop. I remember picking out a little rock with two googly eyes glued on and my younger sister picked out a pencil. You can’t make this stuff up: a ROCK and a PENCIL. And I will tell you- I loved that rock, and my sister adored her pencil.

My point is, we only got gifts on our birthdays and holidays, so we were truly excited about every single little thing we got.

Check out these 6 Non-Toy, Experience Gifts for Kids.

Until recently, my kids would walk into a store and instantly try to eye up the largest toy in the store. They had so much crap at home that nothing excited them. Once we started limiting gifts to special occasions, the gifts they got (even the small ones) became special and magical. Experiences became more valuable than gifts when we became less materialistic.

Related: The Beautiful Benefits of Boredom

4) If it is Nice, Get Outside

My mom constantly told us, “Get outside and play”. We would play outside for hours and only come in when we were called for dinner.

Outside play is crucial for kids mental and physical development. They make friends, get dirty, and run off energy- which makes them happier kids.

As long as it isn’t raining or frigid temperatures, we go outside. They run around, breath in the fresh air, and enjoy being kids. Let them jump off swings, skin their knees, and be loud

In fact, there is a growing dilemma called Nature Deficit Disorder, which describes the idea that humans, notably children, are spending less time outdoors, resulting in a wide variety of behavior problems.

5) Get Dirty

With the exception of Easter Sunday, I never remember being told not to get dirty. We’d always put on our “play clothes” (shoes were optional), and we would roll down hills, make mud-pies, and dig for worms.

Your kids won’t be lacking sensory stimulation when they are playing in a puddle.

Related: Mindfulness Activities for Kids

6) Deal With Their Own Battles

As a 90’s kid, I don’t recall any parents helping us work through arguments with friends. We figured it out between ourselves. Sometimes an agreement was made, and sometimes the fight ended when someone slammed the door and yelled “I am never playing with you again”. But here is the thing- that is ok!

Unless someone is hurt, we tell our kids “figure it out” when they come to us to work out their little spats. Kids need to learn how to communicate and compromise, and there is no better time for this th during play.

7) Stay Up Late, Break Routine

My favorite summer memories were running around outside at night with our friends. We would play tag in the dark, collect lightning bugs, and enjoy the summer nights. We always felt so ‘cool’ staying up late.

Let kids stray from their routine. Kids will learn to be flexible when they aren’t on strict routines. They learn to be functioning adults that can cope with change.

8) Never Tell Them “Hurry Up”

As much as I try to slow it down, I can’t deny that we live a fast-paced life. We are constantly running from school to sports and activities. I feel that we are always late. I realized I was making my kids nervous by always yelling “hurry up” at them.

My favorite quality of my kids was hat they liked to ‘stop and smell the roses’, and I was basically telling them to cut that out. When I was yelling ‘hurry up’ constantly at them, I was destroying this beautiful childhood quality.

Even when we are running late, I remind myself of my easy going 90’s years and let them take their time and enjoy the little moments in life ( even if deep down I am biting my tongue because we are super late or wherever we are going).

Click here for 4 other things you shouldn’t say to your kids.

Final Thoughts on Raising Kids Like it’s the 90’s

Think back about your favorite memories. The ones that shaped you into who you are today. Most likely these memories do not involve television.

Everyone’s childhood experience looks different, but I want to pull from the positives of my childhood and raise my kids with those ideals. Let’s do our kids a favor and get back to the “90’s state of mind”. Let them ride their bikes, scuff their knees, and dig up worms. They won’t even realize that they are learning to be functioning adults.

Try a few of these and, in the meantime, if you want to blast some Will Smith then go on and get Jiggy with it. I won’t judge.

If you agree, spread the word and share it! And check out my other posts how to raise kids who are healthy at home and strong in the world and follow us on Facebook.

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Wednesday 31st of May 2023

I need to figure out how to do this with teens!


Thursday 1st of June 2023

Now that is a challenge!

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Thursday 17th of November 2022

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Thursday 25th of August 2022

I completely agree with most of this and I love reading the different perspectives from others. The only one I’m struggling with is letting them deal with problems/conflicts on their own. My kids are young, so right now they have kid problems. But in a few short years they will be teenagers with bigger problems. I’m afraid if I tell them to figure it out on their own now, that they may not come to me for help or guidance when they’re 15 and dealing with something serious that’s happening amongst themselves and their friend groups. I think my main concern is that I want to make sure I keep the line of communication wide open for the future.


Monday 29th of August 2022

I totally agree! When I wrote this my kids were younger and the fights were more like "he took the toy I wanted". But more complicated battles could for sure benefit from parental guidance. Thanks for your comment!!

Leanne Strong

Tuesday 23rd of August 2022

I was born in 1993, and my brother was born in 1995, but the majority of my childhood memories are from the 2000s. I can barely remember the 90s, despite a few vague memories from the tail end of the decade (such as Michael Jordan, kool ade, gushers, hugs drinks, fruit by the foot, fruit rollups, Britney Spears, Capri Sun), but that was mainly because those things continued into the early and mid 2000s. I can recall playing outside often as a child, although I would come in more often than mealtime. Growing up, my family was very outdoorsy in general, so that was a huge plus! However, I also recall watching a lot of TV, especially in my early-mid 2000s tween years, as well as my mid 2000s-early 2010s teen years.


Tuesday 9th of August 2022

You and many commenters mention ‘deal with their own conflict’ several times, but let me reflect on a different side of this: I see parents who let their kids bully others / push smaller kids around without interfering as lazy parents who cause me and my kids problems. I'm not saying your kids are those bullies (I don't know the author or any commenter here), just saying there is a different side to this too...

Also toddlers need their parents to show them how to interact with others, teach them how to be gentle and nice to each other. Obviously bigger kids who already know each other should handle their own conflicts, also siblings - sometimes when they come to me I give them pointers, ask them some questions that might help them come to a solution but I mostly tell them to handle it amongst themselves.

But I agree with the limited screen time and not being too strict on routines - it's just really hard in a world where everyone is glued to their phones. (also many parents who limit screen time for their kids are addicted to their own screens - I find that very hypocritical)


Tuesday 9th of August 2022

Great points and I totally see and agree with those perspectives!!

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