11 Things Us Grandmas Did As Kids That We’d Never Let Our Grandkids Do

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Being a kid today isn’t what it used to be, and it breaks this grandma’s heart.

With the world the way it is, it is more difficult for kids to be kids, let alone do half of the things we did when we were their age. (Though, now that I think about it, this isn’t all bad, especially when I think back to riding in the car’s front seat without a seatbelt and sliding down a metal slide on a hot summer day!) I thought it would be fun and interesting to do a dive into the things we did as kids that we would never let our grandkids do, including:

1. Since I already mentioned it, let’s begin with riding in the car’s front seat without a seatbelt…

Not only did we ride in the front seat from birth on, but we rode without any seatbelt or safety harness. Today, I get anxious when my grandkids graduate from their 5-point car seat to a booster…

2. …And burning our legs and bottoms on those scorching hot metal slides

Metal slide at the park
Flickr/Bart Everson

Yes, those incredibly tall slides with the janky ladder steps were always a blast to zoom down, but come summer, they could cause third-degree burns if you slid down it in shorts. (They also caused some of the most painful cuts and splinters!)

3. Play outside unsupervised

I hate this for my grandkids, but neither their parents nor myself will let them play out front without one of us supervising. Gone are the days when kids could run around and play all day and return home when the street light turned on. It’s a scary world, and we must be extra diligent in keeping them safe.

4. Drink water from a hose

Drinking from a hose
Flickr/Anathea Utley

Don’t judge me too harshly, but I am pretty lenient with this one. Yes, I know what the experts say, and I have several friends who abide by this with their grands (which is why I mention it), but I am in the camp that a bit of hose water never hurts anyone.

5. Watch shows without worrying about the content

When I was a girl, our options for TV were ABC, CBS, and NBC, and those channels showed westerns, variety shows, and football games on Sundays. Today, it is an entirely new ballgame with more TV channels than you can count, plus a plethora of streaming services with who knows what on them. Before the grandkids get to watch anything, it has to be vetted by their folks (or me if I am watching them at the time).

6. Walk to school at a young age

Little kid best friends
Flickr/Shawn Rossi

I walked to and from school from the time I was in kindergarten until I graduated the 8th grade (and yes, it was uphill both ways, he he). I shudder at having a 5-year-old do that today, especially with how much the world has changed!

7. Eavesdrop on a party line

I have a funny request: Ask your grandchild what a party line is (err – was) and see what they say! My grandma ran the lines when I was little, and sometimes I would visit her to listen in on other people’s conversations. Then, when I got home, I would do the same. I remind my grandkids to mind themselves, so please don’t share this little tidbit with them.

8. Play with toys coated in lead paint

Fujiya's PEKO
Flickr/Dennis Wong

They don’t make toys like they used to… but maybe that’s a good thing? Unbeknownst to us, many toys we played with were made of contaminated materials, mainly if they were produced before 1978. Thankfully, federal mandates now require testing on toys, making them generally safer. 

9. Ride bikes without a helmet

Do you ever look back at your childhood and wonder how you survived? Me too. 

10. Go swimming or fishing (unsupervised) at the nearby pond

Pond with fish
Flickr/Twentyfour Students

When I was a girl, there was no better way to spend a summer day than in the pond just outside of town – the same one the cows used to stay cool. The water was murky, but boy, did it feel good on those humid days! (Did I mention I couldn’t swim? Seriously, where were our parents?)

11. Douse ourselves in baby oil

Sunscreen? Who needs it?! Just kidding: Please lather up those grandbabies!


Talk about a blast from the past! I hope this brought back as many memories for you as it did for me (and reinforced your thankfulness for current laws and technology). Can you think of anything else that I didn’t list? Please let me know. As always, let’s talk again soon!

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