Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Being a toddler in the 70s...

I was my son's age now at the end of 1978.  Blimey that makes me feel old.  It got me thinking, how much has the world changed since I was that age?

Me, in the 70's.  Love that outfit and the 'fro!

It's easy as an adult to look back and think everything was peachy.  Not so.  If you think about it...

In the 70's there were no back seat belts in cars, let alone car seats by law.  Certainly no airbags!

There was no internet.  The one telephone in the house was in the hall way and had a dial on it.  No answerphone either.

No remote controls, no multi channel TV.

My mum was seen as being strange by the midwives for wanting to breastfeed.  This was the time of the unethical practices of formula companies so many of our mother's generation didn't breastfeed and having lost the support of many from that generation it made it harder for many women who followed.  The jury is out on the exact knock on effects of that, even having breastfed for 13 months myself I do wonder sometimes whether the claims are overstated, but certainly breastfeeding is the natural thing to do so having a whole generation who weren't must have an impact.

British food could be pretty dire.  Most Brits had only tasted pasta from a tin.  So many cuisines had not yet graced these shores; Thailand wasn't somewhere you went to on your gap year, it was where you got neck adornments (or was that Tie Rack?) certainly Thai food was unheard of.  My Mum used to be pretty adventurous and make things like Chilli but she had to get dried peppers (capsicums) because fresh ones weren't available in the shops (now they come in mega value bags) and red kidney beans were tough to find so she used to substitute baked beans!  This was long before the resurgence in British restaurant food too.  A chop, potato and carrots was pretty much the height of sophistication.

Sweets and drinks (among other things) were routinely coloured with artificial colourings now associated with hyperactivity.

It was the time lots of convenience foods were launched or became popular.  This was the time of Smash (instant mashed potato), Crispy Pancakes and Angel Delight's (instant mousse) massive popularity.  Pot Noodle launched in 1978, the first ready meals became available.  In 1974, MacDonalds opened their first store.

Milky ways were advertised as the sweet you can eat without filling you up and ruining your appetite (and that was a good thing apparently.)

So really the 70's set out the stall for a lot of things which many of us are now trying to reverse about our diets and our culture.

But there are some things which were great.

My mum used to make all of our food from scratch, even her own bread.

Kids TV for preschoolers was limited to 30 mins or so including greats such as Mr Ben and Bagpuss at lunchtime (no CBeebies for 12 hours a day).

We had proper puddings, sweets apart from home made puddings weren't a big part of our diet.  Chocolate was once in a blue moon and for all of the processed food out there, we didn't eat much of it.  Mostly it was too expensive.

Sunday afternoons often used to consist of going out for a walk with my sisters and parents.

I used to 'help' my mum cook by shaping bread rolls.  Sitting on a stool as she cooked food is still one of my fondest memories of childhood.  I also used to help my Dad in the garden and I remember picking fresh sprouts on Christmas day.

The Future?

In a lot of ways though, looking at this list makes me a little sad.  Although I try to stick to a lot of the good principles I learned from my mother as a child, I recognise I'm a dying breed.

So, I recognise that convenience has it's place.  We all need an easy quick fix sometimes but, perhaps at a weekend, it's a good time to think back and take time to prepare food for your family.  Why not get the kids involved too in growing and preparing food?  One of my sister's has a good phrase.  She says all people have their "love language" and this is how we show people we love them.  For me it's food, why not give it a go, whether you're a Mum a Dad or even on your own, making delicious food for someone else or for your self is a great way to show your love.

I've linked this up to oldies but goodies!


  1. I think that's why I mostly cook from scratch too, although there's always a pack of fish fingers in the freezer... My list of 'great things' about being a child in the 70s is pretty similar to yours!

    1. We all have our quick short cuts. I sometimes buy chilled pizzas and breaded fish but I'd say 80% of my food is home made from commodity ingredients.

  2. Replies
    1. Ha ha... the hair hasn't got much better!

  3. Aww the old adverts brought back some memories, and I introduced my toddler to Bagpuss the other day! Lovely!

    1. My son has been cuddling my stuffed bagpuss toy in bed for the last two nights. I'm going to have to get a Bagpuss DVD so he knows there's far more to Bagpuss, ok, maybe he just slept a lot.

  4. I love this post! I'm a 70s kid too and we ate a lot of convenience food (although my mum would deny it now) - it was seen as quite sophisticated I think not to be making stuff yourself! Sadly my cooking habits are bad and my kids are really fussy, not sure whether I can blame this on my 1970s upbringing or just my own laziness!

    1. I think it was seen as sophisticated too. That's what the whole Smash ad is about and when ready meals really hit in the 80's that was a huge deal.

  5. Great post! Cripsy pancakes brought me back - that was a treat about once a month in our house, along with the individual pizzas - the rest of the time it was meat and two veg. How funny that noone ever ate pasta, we have that every other night now! I have such fond memories of TV from the 70s - thanks for the reminder :) Thanks for linking up to #oldiesbutgoodies.

    1. No problem. Although considering the news today some Findus Crispy pancakes is the last thing I fancy!

  6. Being a child of the late 80's, I was born into a world where convenience was already taking precedence over everything else. I remember my mother did cook from scratch now and then, a skill I've picked up purely by observing and it's something I'm trying to fit into our daily lives.

    This post also makes me think about how 'futuristic' everyone thought the 21st Century would be. Especially when you look at films like 'Bladerunner'. I don't know about you, but 2013 doesn't even come close to people's expectations. Flying cars anyone? :)

    1. I suppose if the future were easy to predict, it would have been predicted, accurately. I would say the biggest changes since the 70's / 80's is the computer (and more devices being mini computers, being integrated into our daily life), the mobile phone and the internet. Imagine telling someone in 1980 that physical letters would be pretty much dead that we'd be able to read 'letters' i.e. emails on a telephone while out and about. Then tell them you could use that phone to check where the nearest restaurant was, then read reviews of it before going in. The world might not be full of flying cars but it's a very different world.


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