Julie Fishman is the cohost of First Timers, a podcast about blowouts, belly laughs, and all the other “firsts” in parenthood. She’s a mom to two girls, one dog, and a bevy of Barbies that her threenager has demanded she also parent.
1. Sayonara Sippy
I’m not sure that my daughter has ever felt genuine thirst. I’m not sure her mouth has ever even been dry. That’s because I carry a sippy cup of water everywhere we go. If your kid got thirsty in the ’80s, you told them to find a fountain. No way you were letting a diaper bag weighed down by water ruin your sweet shoulder pads!
The word “fruit” on the label meant juice was healthy in the ’80s. Hand your kid even a GMO-free, sugar-free, organic box on the playground today and other moms act like you just pulled your toddler aside, wrapped their arm in a tourniquet, and injected them with straight heroin.
3. Limitless Screen Time
While ’80s parents may have guessed that three hours straight of She-Ra wasn’t exactly beneficial, they didn’t have definitive research telling them it was detrimental. So when they turned on the Saturday morning cartoons and went back to bed, they did so without any guilt.
4. Latchkey Kids
In the ’80s, kids often left the house in the morning and didn’t return until dinner. Where were they? Maybe getting into a suspicious van, but probably just somewhere in the neighborhood. It was the opposite of helicopter parenting. And you’d get arrested for it now.
5. Cyber Free
My mom warned me of two dangers: the aforementioned van man and candy laced with razor blades. That was it! There were no cyber predators, cyber bullies, identity thieves, or sexts. Eighties moms didn’t have to explain to a preteen with a not-yet-developed prefrontal cortex that regrettable social media posts remain FOREVER.
6. No Highlight Reels
Thanks to crafty Pinterest moms and catalog-worthy Instagram families, the pressure for parenting perfection is at an all-time high. In the ’80s you could only compare yourself to your in-the-flesh neighbors, and since they let their baby teethe on Marlboro Red carton boxes, you thought you were doing just fine.
7. My Mother, the Hero
The modern mom is made to feel like a failure if she decides against breastfeeding, opts for an epidural, or even has a completely unpreventable C-section. And once she’s six weeks postpartum, she better be back in shape, dying to have sex, and building play gyms out of PVC pipes. My mom had a single goal every day: to get to the end of it, preferably with all of her children alive. If that required microwave dinners in front of the TV, so be it!
8. Preschool Warfare
Most ’80s moms chose a preschool based purely on proximity. They didn’t take tours, go on interviews, or write application essays. They didn’t ponder Montessori vs. Waldorf vs. Bubble Guppian. And they definitely didn’t consider a side career as a Craigslist foot-fetish model to pay the tuition.