KATE: "41 things I got away with in the 70s that kids could never do today."

I don’t remember being a baby or a toddler, but now my kids are at ages I remember vividly and I’m often struck by just how different my childhood was to theirs.

Was it better or worse? I don’t know, but it was more dangerous. And possibly more fun.

I think of my ’70s childhood with a mixture of warmth and horror and ask:

How did we survive?

1. Our sandwiches contained leftover roast chicken; we didn’t have fridges in classrooms or ice bricks in our lunch boxes, but we didn’t get food poisoning.

2. We rode bikes without helmets or adult supervision or bike paths but we mostly just ended up with scarred knees.

3. Our mothers wiped our faces with spit on a hanky not an antibacterial wipe.

4. Tuckshop was sausage rolls and cream donuts but kids were wiry and fast.

Kids these days don’t want to be fireman or nurses, they just want to be famous. (Post continues after audio.)

5. Our parents rarely knew our teachers’ names, let alone their NAPLAN prep strategy.

6. When our teachers would whack us, we wouldn’t tell our parents for fear of getting punished again, so we avoided trouble in the first place.

7. Our trampolines were netless and sometimes hosed with water and a squirt of Palmolive for extra slipperiness.

8. What was said on the playground stayed on the playground.

9. We went on camps and excursions without 18 forms to be signed and witnessed.

10. As toddlers, we rode in supermarket trolleys without padded trolley liner thingys.

11. Angry teachers were treated with caution. We just prayed for a nice one next year.


12. Weekends were about our parents’ social lives. As kids, we played murder in the dark while parents talked with their friends and forgot we existed.

13. Generally, we went to the closest school, not the best one.

14. Kids got scared before parent-teacher interviews, not teachers.

15. We got ourselves to Saturday sport and told tall tales about how the win was won.

We would play sport Saturday morning and talk about it all afternoon.

16. Helping with the washing up was as important as homework.

17. Birthday parties were fairy bread and Fanta, not fruit kebabs and face painting.

18. When a kid was injured, people felt sorry for her parents. They didn’t ask what the hell were they thinking letting her climb that tree anyway.

19. Cubby houses were built by kids not bought from Toys R Us.

20. If you did badly in a test, you got a talking to, not a cuddle.

21. A pocket-knife was a perfectly acceptable gift for a 10-year-old.

22. If anyone got air conditioning in their bedroom, it was mum and dad.

23. Family holidays came before kids’ sporting schedules.

24. Your dad’s desire to watch Four Corners trumped your need to watch Battlestar Galactica.

25. A teacher could put mercurochrome on a scraped knee without obtaining our parents’ permission and completing an ‘incident report’.

26. A playdate was walking to a friend’s house, ringing the doorbell and saying, ‘Can Cathy come and play?’


27. School excursions happened without a ‘risk assessment’ and a two to one kid / parent volunteer ratio.

28. There was no padding on netball hoop posts.

29. No one wrote names on cups at parties.

Kids' parties were SO much easier.

30. You could offer your friend a bite of your hot dog.

31. If the bus driver yelled at you, the bus driver didn’t get in trouble, you did.

32. If you didn’t make a team, you tried harder or tried something else.

33. Pass the parcel had one winner.

34. There was one kind of milk. It was full cream and it was delicious.

35. Meat was bought at the butcher, and was packed without a use-by date. Our parents used their noses to tell if the mince was off.

36. Getting one present on your Christmas wish list was good result.

37. Drives of longer than an hour happened without supplies of rice crackers and juice.

38. Going to the shops/church/the nursing home to visit Nan was boring as hell but could be endured without an iPad.

39. School holidays were about not being at school, not soccer workshops, art classes and pony camp.

40. Being tired was no excuse for being rude.

41. You had to do something great to get a ‘student of the week’ award. Not just show up at school.

What do you remember about childhood? Do you think kids have it better or worse now?