Mum skills from the 70’s

Sometimes I dream about being a Mum of the Seventies, but I’d get arrested.

If I was living in the 1970’s (according to my very limited family research) my baby would spend most of the day in the pram in the garden. When I wanted to go out, (out out), baby would come with me to the pub and wait in the car or sit “behind the bar”.

I know!

Can you imagine how we would be judged these days? Lucky my siblings and I are still alive, and my parents; pillars of the community!

Back in the 1970’s, as I recall, the parenting world was monopolised by the Silver Cross, Balmoral, pram. Big enough to pretty much live in. And that we did.Silver_Cross_Vintage_Advert

Most of my babyhood was spent out in the garden in the pram; if it rained, under the hood of the garage. The fresh air was good for us and we liked to watch the clouds and listen to the birds (or so I was told!).

I slept in the pram, went for walks in the pram, sat and played in the pram.

Sounds like a dream compared to my day-to-day; now that I am the mother and not the baby! However, I just can’t bring myself to put the baby in the garden all day. She won’t sleep in her pram anyway. (It’s not a Silver Cross, Balmoral).

Besides, what would people say?

Today, some of this Seventies stuff would get your baby taken into care, or your parents arrested.

I used to travel in the boot of the car in the ‘carry cot’. No car seats back then! You didn’t even have seat belts in the back of the car.

Then the good bit! My parents have many-a-time told me the story of how it was normal to drive to the pub, park outside the window of the pub, leave the baby asleep in the cot, in the car, and go and have a jolly nice drink and maybe a spot of scampi and chips. Then drive home, obviously.

If you couldn’t park where you could see the car, or it was a bit cold, you would bring the baby in to the pub and the lovely landlord / lady would put your baby “behind the bar” (out the back) so baby could sleep, while parents had a night out!

True story.

I’m actually a bit jealous of that one.

Outside of pram life, there was the play pen: a small wooden cage, with death-trap corners. You would happily play with your toys or stand up against the bars like a prisoner practicing your escape plan. This was so Mother could get on with some jobs or go to the loo. Luxury indeed.

Again, jealous.

Jealous enough that I am thinking about getting some kind of play pen, despite the guilt. But more of a plastic activity station that ‘pretends’ it is not a cage for children so I feel better about it. It has been created to “stimulate” and “amuse” helping develop “motor skills” and whatever, whatever, I just need to pee alone and make the fricking dinner.

Growing up, the beautiful Silver Cross pram came into its own when I was running about with my big brother, cousins and friends. It converted (A-Team style) into a home-made Go-Kart! Games consisted of Karting down a very steep road in the village (so dangerous) or towing each other on skate boards using a bike and a dog lead. There was a home-made obstacle course of jumps and turns (hazards-as they are called today).

I think come the late 80’s to 1990’s we had knee and elbow pads for skateboards, but no helmets; and no obligation to wear them.

(Trying to visualise Marty McFly as we speak… Yup, no helmet)

We could leave the house on our bikes, and as long as we were home by tea time, all was well. No phones.

Child safety was governed by the word “No” or “be careful”. The Seventies didn’t have special contraptions to Toddler proof the plug sockets or clips to hold cupboards shut.

I’m not one for dicing with death, so I do have the safety things that go in the sockets. They were a good invention. (I still plan to use the word, “NO”).

Life was less complicated back then. There was much less pressure on parents. It felt safer: despite the lack of seat belts.

Computer games weren’t around to corrupt young minds, the internet didn’t exist. You didn’t have to worry about who children might meet online or what they might learn about the dark side of humanity.

There was usually a community, “a village to raise a child”, consisting of friends, neighbours and family. Making parenthood much more manageable. Although I think that still exists in pockets, it is much less common now.

Some days, while stacking cups on the floor, I think it would be nice to be able to put the baby in the garden on her own and have a bit of peace.

I’d like to pee alone while baby is ‘safe’ in the play pen.

I’d like to not feel judged or pressured via the media, or be told to parent a certain way by an ‘expert’.

And of course, it would be nice to go to the pub, (even with the baby).

But mostly I’d like to feel it was safe to let my daughter play outside all day and have a close community of support to watch over her (and me). Like I had growing up.

However, I won’t be letting her speed a Go-Kart down a very steep hill, not unless my big brother is there!

So I might take a few lessons from the 1970’s (the legal ones) and try and feel less guilty about the best way to parent.

But I might need to move to a village. Because from what I gather: it takes a village to raise a child; and a silver cross pram.


*Please do get in touch if you actually still live in 70’s style community,  I might want to move there.

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*Picture Silver Cross Vintage Advert, source wikipedia


  • As a child of the 1970s, I also remember being left in the car with a bottle of pop while my parents enjoyed a drink or two in the pub. It’s amazing any of us made it to adulthood – but somehow we’re all here to tell the tale! Great post x

  • Love this post. I was born towards the end of the 70s and remember go-karts made from prams – they were so much fun. my childhood memories are full of playing outside with my friends and only having to come home for tea. I remember sitting in the boot of the car a few times as well – some things are definitely safer now though!

    • Some things are definitely safer Louise! But I am beginning to think we had more fun growing up than our kids might… I suppose it’s just different. I think the parents had a good deal back then though! Get rid of the kids all day and then take them to the pub!

  • Oh I know!! Didn’t it sound brilliant! We all had a play pen and were sent outside to play ALL day long. I have such happy memories of my childhood though. Great post luv xx

    • Thanks Tor. I am hoping I can replicate this in some form. I just need to have more appreciation for safety and try not to get arrested!
      Probably kidding myself, Elsie is so precious, will I dare let her go out on her own!? All this to come!

  • fabulous post. I’d love to take part in one of those step back in time tv programs just for a week or so and realise how difficult we all make our life’s these days!
    I also remember being left in the pub beer garden from dawn till after dusk with a lemonade if u were lucky and a packet of crisps whilst mum and dad had a night out! The real thing is we all had fun and amused ourselves without the need for phones/tablets etc to play with! Happy days x

    • I knew it wasn’t just my parents and their friends! I did wonder before I published it whether not everyone did this but the more people I speak to about this, the more it was the same for them! Thanks for coming over and commenting. Nice to see you. Good blog name by the way!

  • Great article with some very valid points!
    I fondly recall playing in the drains and water pipes under my suburb (I’m in Australia), catching tadpoles and exploring the neighbourhood from sunrise to sunset with my friends and our pushbikes. Growing up in the 80s/90s was a fun time – an adventure I’m afraid my children won’t get to experience the joys of.
    But I do let them play in the mud/rain when they want 🙂

    • Thanks so much for commenting Lauren and coming over to my facebook page. Much appreciated. So glad you liked it and could relate. Yes, our children will never have the luxury of being able to run about unsupervised all day long. Funny old world. Good for you letting them out in the mud. We used to make mud pies. I’ll really need to take a deep breath if and when my daughter wants to do that! She’s already after my ipad at 9 months!

  • The plug socket guard things actually make sockets more dangerous! With three prong sockets there’s no electricity unless the top prong is properly in-the guards activate the plugs, so its worse to have them! When I discovered this I took it as vindication of my very lax approach to baby proofing, which maybe is t a good thing… My third is getting a pretty 70s style upbringing because I’ve run out of energy, time and attention!

  • I was frequently left to sleep outdoors and, i’m enthusiastically told, a few times in the snow. Wrapped up to the eyeballs and “happy as larry”. Was I really quite and happy or had I shut down all physical and emotional activity to preserve heat…

  • I think you need to take a lot of things with a pinch of salt. I don’t know a single baby, which would play happily in a play pen. I doubt this has changed in 40 years since 70s. Your parents are bound to have an idealised image of your childhood… And good for them 🙂
    My mum in law tells me they were told crying was good for babies, as it helped to make lungs stronger… So they’d leave kids crying for a bit.
    Oh, and as to electric safety plugs, my husband works with electricians and they told him there’s no need. British sockets are super safe for babies. You have to first unblock the top pin (which is hard to push in) and then put something in both the bottom holes to release the electric current. A pretty clever child to do that!

    • Yes, Joanna, Robyn recently commented that there is no need for those safety plugs! I had no idea! I definitely think we need to take the spirit of the 70’s and take on board the good bits while clearly eliminating things we know today are not so good! Thanks for commenting

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