One of the most important jobs a parent has is to make sure their children are ready and prepared for being let loose on the next phases of their life. We get them through the baby and toddler years, through primary school, and into the teen years, exams, uni and first jobs. Some of the key life skills for children that need developing to set good habits for later in life, can start being taught in the tween years.
As a mum you think the big development years are baby and toddler years. Of course they are. But there’s still skills for children to learn outside of school.
I want to make sure N has the knowledge and skills to live on his own when he leaves home. It could be college and could be years and years before he leaves home. But I don’t want him to get to the stage of getting married, but having no idea about keeping a home.
It’s especially hard here, with fairly traditional stereotypical roles at home (although I hate cleaning so will put it off as long as possible, and begrudge being left to do it all). I want to ensure that N understands that sharing a home means everyone pulling their weight and not leaving it to the female of the house – especially when they also work.
N’s helped with chores since he was young, and he’s generally good at being willing to help. There are skills that I want to make sure he’s sure about, before he gets too old. So we’re working through introducing how to do them over the next few years. Some he’ll currently do sporadically, others he’s taken on board as something he needs to do each time it’s needed.
Life skills to prepare tweens and teens for adult life
Cooking and baking – children usually enjoy baking from a young age, but cooking isn’t always an automatic activity they pick up. N started asking to help with cooking, Peeling, chopping and making salads are easy to start with, then they can learn with supervision for the heat and lifting pans. Before they’re let loose on cooking.
Writing a shopping list and shopping – get them writing and planning, increasing their interest in food and money management, as well as them choosing recipe ingredients for them to cook with. Let them add a couple of treats on too. Teach them to write a list in store order (or home storage order) to make shopping more efficient. Teach them about promotions and getting good value out of the shop. Learn where to shop at independents and locally and when to use the supermarket.
Washing, drying and folding clothes – folding clothes is a good starting point and many children like hanging up washing to dry on a clothes horse. It take a while for them to understand how to hang them so they’ll dry uncrumpled and evenly, but is an easy chore for them to have. Make it so everyone folds their own washing (or at least pairing socks). Gradually they can learn how to use the washing machine too.
Ironing – if they’re going to wear a shirt for secondary school, it’s worth teaching them before they start. I used to do the ironing to earn pocket money. Even if like our house we don’t iron anything generally, if there’s a wedding, christening or funeral, the OH has to have a shirt ironed.
Vacuuming and dusting – these jobs are easy for young children to learn, N even asks to dust with his aunt at the farm (it was news to me!). You might have to go over it again, but it’s generally a job they don’t mind (or maybe that’s just my child).
Cleaning around sinks – generally learning to clean around after they’ve used it (whether the kitchen sink or removal of toothpaste in the bathroom sink). It’s polite and considerate, plus cleaning as you go means less big cleaning jobs to do.
Cleaning the toilet – enough said. Do wait until they don’t find it funny to flick toilet brush water around.
Loading and unloading a dishwasher / hand-washing and drying – N usually sets the table for me, and helps clear the plates afterwards. He knows how to load the dishwasher correctly while the OH refuses to. It amazes N that we never had a dishwasher growing up, so I do sometimes encourage him to wash up a few things by hand if the dishwasher is still on/full.
Making tea and coffee – we don’t drink tea and coffee in our house, so until we have visitors again, N still doesn’t know how to make this. I’ll need to send him over to the farm to learn.
Wrapping presents – nothing fancy needed, but it’s a fun activity, and It’s good to learn to do it efficiently and sustainably.
Answering a phone properly / wrong number – because most use mobile phones now, actually dialling a number, and answering a landline or phone on behalf of someone else rarely happens.
Sewing on a button – always helpful, and a simple task that everyone should be able to do.
Fixing a hem – shortcut using wonderweb is fine!
Basic first aid – teaching them about the difference between pharmacy, GP and emergency/hospital, and care from each, as well as what we can do to fix minor injuries, is great preparation. If they’re in Brownies, Guides or Cubs, they’ll probably learn a bit of basic first aid, otherwise let them watch tv shows like Operation Ouch, or talk them through your first aid kit. How to ring 999 (and when).
Money management – just talking about pocket money, salaries or wages for jobs done, savings vs spending and buying short term vs long term, will all help education tweens about money. Using a bank to deposit and withdraw money will also mean teaching them about interest rates. Children do take in this information over time, and it’s always good to be honest about money matters.
Recycling and decluttering – we go through phases in our house, and the OH will say it’s time to declutter. N is quite good at knowing there’s different piles for charity, selling, recycling, burning or throwing. He’s also better than the OH at putting things in the recycling bin, and he’ll help take the recycling down to the bins. Unfortunately I can’t ask him to put the waste bin bags out as a) he’d drag them along the drive, b) it’s quite a walk down to our bins at the farm gate, and c) he’s not big enough to swing a bin bag into the wheelie bins. But it won’t be long.
So these are my list of household and life skills for children I think tweens and teens need to learn. We’ll working through getting these gradually done.
What would you add to the list?