One of the many jobs we take on as parents is teaching our kids how to become adults. In some respects, kids today are light years ahead of previous generations. They are tech-savvy and can find the answer to just about anything by reaching into their back pockets. But there are other things young people today don’t know how to do that is bewildering to older generations.
In the recent elections, many college students didn’t mail their absentee ballots because they didn’t have a stamp or know where to get one. There is now an adulting school in Maine to teach millennials basic life skills like folding a fitted sheet, sewing a button, or writing a check.
If you want to raise kids who will have the skills they need when before they leave home, then it’s a good idea to start teaching them early at home. With a little creativity, there are ways to make even the most monotonous aspects of being an adult seem exciting. Making a game out of “adulting” can not only help them later in life, but you might be able to make practical connections to what they’re learning during school hours. Stain removal is all about science, and balancing a checkbook is math.
It can be bittersweet to imagine a time where our kids won’t need us anymore. But at the end of the day, it’s their job to grow up and it’s our job to let them. Making sure they have the skills to be successful as adults is the best gift we can give them.
Fun ‘adulting’ activities
When thinking of ideas for ‘adulting’ activities, be sure to keep in mind ways to make things fun. Try finding ways to connect ‘adulting’ activities to their particular interests or passions. Here are a few ideas for you and your children to try out:
Practice making meals together: Learning to make a meal is a practical life skill that all kids need to develop at some point. Getting kids starting on learning how to cook can be difficult, but there are definitely ways that parents can make preparing a meal more fun. For example, if your family likes pasta, try making it with something different added to the water it’s boiled in each time. See what happens to the noodles and how they change. This ‘experiment’ is not only fun for your children, it also teaches them valuable skills about preparing basic meals.
Build your own campfire: Basic survival skills are important for everyone to know, just in case of an emergency. But learning how to build a campfire is more than just practical knowledge; it can be a lot of fun too. Before you start to build your campfire, make sure you tell your children about fire and how fuel, heat, and oxygen interact to make fire. After that, collect your materials (we include marshmallows on that list) and follow a safe set of directions to start your fire. Once your campfire is lit, roast marshmallows and tell some scary stories before safely extinguishing the flame.
Build your own greenhouse for fruits and veggies: While this can certainly be a big investment, considering how large the project is, building your own greenhouse with your child can be a fun way to bond with each other while still teaching your child useful information. Talk about how greenhouses work (through convection which keeps plants at a stable temperature even in the colder months) and why people use them as opposed to planting outdoors (because they protect plants from pests and weather). After the greenhouse is built and your fruits and vegetables are planted and have grown, you’ll be able to enjoy eating what you have planted.
Learn how to remove stains from clothes: Luckily, kids are very messy, so it’s likely you’ll have many chances to practice this skill. As most people know, different cleaning methods or substances work best for different types of stains, and sometimes it’s hard to remember which cleanser goes with which stain, so practice will be important. Teaching this to your kids is important so they don’t end up spending way too much money on clothing. Knowing at the moment how to deal with a particular stain is a great skill to have. It’ll keep their clothes clean and their wallets a little more full when they grow up.
Take a CPR class: Getting your CPR certification is a good idea for everyone. Think about taking CPR classes with your child. Knowing how to save a life instills a sense of responsibility and care for others, not to mention the skill can be incredibly helpful in case of an emergency. It will also come in handy when it comes to landing babysitting, camp counselor, or lifeguarding jobs.
Learn about basic auto maintenance: A lot of young drivers have no clue about the work that goes into maintaining their vehicles. That means they end up taking them in for repairs more often, which results in higher cost to them. Make sure you teach your kids how to top off their fluids, fill up their tires, and change their windshield wipers. They should also know how to change a tire. It’ll end up saving them a lot of money in the long run, and it’s a chance for you to spend time together.
Learn about power tools: Teaching your kids how to safely use power tools to perform basic home maintenance and improvement will end up saving them money in the long run as well. Because they won’t have to call plumbers, electricians, and the like as often, they’ll save some money, and feel more independent.
Decode the “fine print:” Kids should understand the importance of contracts before they’re old enough to sign them and get themselves in trouble. A fun way to do this is to play “What’s the catch?” Save some junk mail for a few weeks and look for too-good-to-be-true offers. Spread them out on the kitchen table and see if your child can figure out the gimmick in each. This will help build their critical reading skills and make them feel pretty clever.
For kids, a lot of life starts out with relying on others. But over time the need arises for independence. It’s a parent’s job to help foster that independence within our children. It’s important they have the life skills necessary to take care of themselves, as we won’t always be around to protect them. Teaching your kids how to ‘adult’ can be more fun than you would think. And the fun they have learning independence will make your life happier as well.
By Jackie Nunes, Wondermoms.org