Life Skills To Help Your Kids Survive Outside The Nest

by Charlene Flanagan

No matter what age, your kids will always remain babies in your eyes. And while we understand that you may want to fuss over them as much as possible, it is your parental duty to make sure they can survive the outside world, or, when you're not around to help. This is why teaching them important life skills at an early age pays off.

Yes, we are aware that they barely reach class on time as is, but the fact remains, time flies and pretty soon your little babies will have to move out of that lovely home you've provided them for 18 years, and will be faced with the realities of life and adulthood. And trust us, they will thank you for teaching them well.

Here's everything they'll need to survive outside the nest:

1. The Handy Man: What's the first thing you pack when you're taking a trip or going camping? The first-aid kit, right? Why would it be any different for your kids? They need to know how to put together a first-aid kit and use it in case of an emergency. This would also mean learning how to pack an overnight bag, and keeping all important paperwork and documents safe. For emergency purposes and safety concerns, it is important to teach them how to use a fire extinguisher and install or activate a burglar alarm. But since living alone doesn't only mean avoiding hurt or surviving an emergency, they need to be able to perform basic housekeeping chores as well. Whether it's fixing a broken toilet or light bulb, cleaning the windows, sink and counter tops, doing the dishes or loading the dishwasher properly or checking the fuse, they need to start helping out around the house.

2. Financial Foresight: Understanding finances and keeping a note of how many funds are available is extremely important. Teach your children to track basic weekly spends and plan a budget. It is important to teach them how to work around a budget and stick to it. Encourage your kids to open a checking account independently and learn to use it; this means also learning how to use an ATM, in case of a financial emergency. Let them also apply for a credit card and know how to use it within limits and when to stop. And while it's easy to spend money, it is prudent to teach them the importance of saving money too. Also, teach them the importance of managing and organizing all finance-related paperwork.

3. Talk Autoshop: As your kids grow, they'll get eager to get their own cars, considering they'll be driving at 16. One rule you should follow is that they know their machine just as well as they know their road rules. Teaching them how to check fuel levels, washer fluid, air pressure in tires and perhaps more importantly, how to change a flat and pump gas is essential. Servicing the car will make sure it works fine, and your kids should remember maintenance dates and arrange for servicing on a regular basis. Make sure they have all their car-related documents with them.

4. Dirty Laundry: While nobody enjoys doing a load of laundry, it's important to teach your kids to wear clean and freshly-pressed clothes. After all, people don't often get a second chance to make a first impression, especially at job interviews or first dates. Teach them how to load the washing machine, get rid of basic stains, iron clothes (without burning them), sew on loose buttons and mend a tear. This would also mean teaching them the importance of separating their whites from their colored clothes, to avoid accidental staining. Now, while it's important to wash and iron, you cannot leave clean clothes scattered about. Teach them how to fold and keep things in their place. This will also ensure that your kids know how to tidy up after themselves.

5. Time Management Skills: While this is a touch-and-go skill, and is subjective, it becomes important to manage time effectively, especially if they're working students. To make sure they maintain a balance between home, assignments and other activities, you need to teach them basic time management skills. They should know the amount of time they need to get dressed and reach their destination. An alarm can be an effective tool here and they should learn how to set it up in a way that there is enough time to get ready and eat before leaving. It is important to be organized and prepare the next day’s important things in advance, such as clothes, paper, shoes and the rest. To avoid any last-minute rush, your kids should also go through assignments on time and learn how to multi-task, to make the most of available time.

6. Cooking Skills: Staying alone can often compel your kids to order takeout, which is an extremely unhealthy habit. This is exactly why it's important to teach them how to cook, and perhaps give them a few simple recipes they can make themselves. Make sure they know how to cook a proper meal and a wholesome breakfast. But don't just stop at cooking. Make sure they know how to buy fresh vegetables and groceries, how to check the expiry or best before date and how to stock a fridge so that food does not exceed its shelf life. Make sure you emphasize the importance of thoroughly washing the produce too.

While these skills seem like they might not be of much use for them just yet, getting them into the habit of helping around the house will only ensure they grow up to be independent; it'll also help them foster healthy, functional relationships in the future.

Image: Shutterstock

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