Life Skills for Kids That Make Successful Adults is a guest post written as part of our Home Success Series by Myra Johnson @AHeartFullofJoy.com.
Jon and I were extremely motivated by other success stories during our own journey to financial freedom and found that these stories were the driving force behind our ability to reduce our spending by over $23,000 a year, pay off over $35,000 of debt, and make up my old salary from home.
Today’s success story talks about a pretty common problem in today's society. Most young adults leaving home and heading out into the world for the first time… Were never taught the basic skills they need to run a home.
Myra is a great example of how teaching kids to help when they are little can make a HUGE impact on the big picture.
If you are one of the thousands of people who were never taught the basic skills needed to survive in the “real world”, The Hot Mess to Home Success program was designed to help you get your home (and your life) in order so you can spend your time doing the things you love.
Hot Mess to Home Success is only open once a year, your best bet is to get on the waiting list here…
Teaching Life Skills
Teaching life skills for kids can seem like a nearly impossible, or super frustrating task, but my sheer desperation turned into a huge blessing in this area.
Not only do my kids help around the house, but the major part of the household work is done by them. And, it’s been this way for years. So cool!
How it all started. . .
I grew up in a home where my mother was the epitome of motherhood. She was raised on a farm and boy, did she know how to work. Our house was always clean. She always had great food on the table at every meal.
She was a loving and attentive mother. And she had time for her
hobbies of sewing, painting, and crocheting. She made it all look soooo easy . . .
When I got married and started my own home I found out pretty quickly that it wasn’t so easy.
You would have thought that I would have learned how to do all this homemaking stuff from my mother. I’m sure she tried to teach me by her example, but . . . I didn’t learn.
Here’s one example of my dire state: When my husband and I were dating we went on a double date with some friends of his who were married.
Learning to Cook
We went to their house for dinner and games, and they asked me to boil the spaghetti.
I looked around the kitchen and wondered, “How in the world do you do that?”
- Boil water?
- Hmmm . . . What size pot?
- How much water?
- And, when do I put the spaghetti in? Right away?
My date had to show me how to cook spaghetti noodles.
Here’s another example: When I was a teenager, my bedroom was pretty messy all the time. For some strange reason, my dirty clothes never seemed to make it to the laundry basket, and my bed never seemed to get made.
After weeks of my mom asking me to clean my room, and my failure to do so, she would get frustrated and just come in and clean it while I was at school.
I’d come home and voila! My room was clean.
So imagine my surprise after getting married that these things didn’t happen by themselves and that it was actually, quite a bit of work to keep a home clean and organized. Ugh.
I was in way over my head.
No one likes living in a messy home, but what was worse, I didn’t like having to clean it.
I struggled so much making myself do it and trying to stay on top of things. I hated how long it took to do laundry, and I really hated cooking. I’d try a new recipe (well, EVERY recipe was new) and most of the time I didn’t like what I cooked.
My good husband did a fair share of the cooking and those were the good meals. 🙂
Learning to Manage The Household
I worked hard at learning how to keep house and how to manage things on top of working a full-time job. I started doing ok with things and was able to keep my home somewhere between a tolerable mess and an occasional clean.
Then . . . the kids started coming along.
Fast forward a few years and I now had three little boys. It felt like I was going a mile a minute every day just to keep up with them, homeschooling, the house, and cooking. I also had some health issues and I was completely frustrated and exhausted.
I remember looking at my boys one day and thinking, “I need help! And THEY are going to help me.” They were still pretty young, but out of sheer desperation, I began teaching life skills for kids when I was teaching them how to help with the house.
Life Skills For Kids
It took quite a bit of effort, but I had great hopes of things getting easier at some point so I kept at it. And as I kept going with it, not only did I feel a sense of accomplishment, but so did they!
They actually liked the responsibility!
It was great for them to help gather the laundry and to sort it. It was fun for all of us to sit and fold clothes together. Instead of me trying to do all of that while taking care of the kids, the kids were actively engaged in helping with what I was doing!
Talk about a win-win!
(Side Note: think three boys . . . you bet I’m going to teach them how to clean their own toilet!)
The cool thing was, they got good at these things! And the even cooler thing was these things were getting done without me having to do it all!
Teaching life skills for kids changes everything, wahoo!
How We Divided The Work
It got to the point where I assigned them a certain job and they owned it. I mean they really owned it. As in the laundry was their total job, every week.
Or, the dishes were their total job, every day. We worked to make things even for everyone so no one had more to do than the other, except in cases of age limitations. But over the years, all of these jobs have been taken care of by my kids.
They would each own their job for a good long time, probably about a year or so, before we would switch things around. They would get really good at their job and then when we’d switch jobs around, they would get really good at that job, and so forth.
This helped me with teaching life skills and responsibility for kids and helped the kids gain a real appreciation for the work someone else did for them.
Now we have five kids, four boys, and a girl at the end… and this is how the household work has been done in our home for years.
And can I just say, I haven’t had to do laundry in years! Can I get a high five?!
Yes, I clean my own room and my own bathroom. Yes, I help each kid with their job now and then. We all take turns cooking, and they all help with grocery shopping.
We all work together in so many other ways.
And I have to tell you, the rewards from teaching life skills for kids have been amazing!
- My kids are all very well skilled and are able to keep house.
- They appreciate what it takes to keep a home, and they appreciate having clean clothes.
- They appreciate the work that goes into each aspect of our home.
I’ve learned from first-hand experience how important it is to purposely work at teaching life skills for kids so they don’t go into adulthood unprepared like I did.
No, our house isn’t perfectly clean, but it is well ordered. Everybody contributes, and it’s not a burden on any one person (namely mom!).
The blessings of all of this have far-reaching implications.
Everyone helping in the household work and owning their jobs so seriously has helped to make our family more appreciative of what it takes to run a home and to take care of each other.
Not only is the housework being taken care of so well, but our family has learned to work as a team. We depend on each other.
And teaching life skills for kids has really helped to strengthen and unify our family.
The Life Skills That Every Kid Should Leave the House With:
Essential Life Skills For Kids #1: Budgeting
78% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. And yet, learning to budget is not taught in schools. So it’s no wonder that families are not prepared when catastrophe strikes…
Learning to budget is the easiest way to break the paycheck to paycheck cycle.
Building a Budget: Step by Step
- Determine your monthly income. How much money is coming into your household this month?
- Create a monthly budget outline. Grab some paper and list your income on top of the page.
- List all of the bills that need to be paid by the due date.
- Set a grocery budget. Set aside a reasonable amount for groceries. ( If you need a basic idea, you can do 15-minute convenience meals at home and spend no more than $120.00 per week, including lunches for two adults).
- Set your budget. Add your groceries and your bills and subtract that number from your total income.
- Find Substitutes. Look for exchanges you can make to reduce your monthly expenses. Exchanges should be cheaper, but the same or better than what you're using right now. (examples: cable, car insurance, prescriptions).
- Create funds for necessities. Identify things you’ll need money for besides bills. (ex. Christmas, birthdays, vacations, medical co-pays, daycare, school lunches)
- Create a Calendar Budget.
- Go out and buy a 12-month calendar with giant writing blocks.
- Write in your paydays, and the estimated income.
- List your bills on the due date.
- Add the amounts of any necessities into the pay dates a month before the money is needed.
- Subtract the amount of each bill/necessity from the total income.
If you feel overwhelmed with the steps, no sweat! We will walk you through the whole process in Hot Mess to Home Sucess.
Budgeting is a game-changer, but you also need to know how to master the basic skills that will support your ability to follow a budget.
Essential Life Skills For Kids #2: Basic Cooking.
Eating out all the time costs a lot of money and most people can’t afford it. And when you’re moving out for the first time on your own, you definitely can’t afford it.
You can absolutely survive on peanut butter and jelly and microwaveable meals, but having the skills to at least boil pasta, heat up sauce and cook a hamburger will make cooking meals throughout your life much easier.
Basic cooking skills are a requirement for true independent living.
Like anything else, cooking takes practice. Just learning basic cooking skills will help you gain the foundational skills to cook larger and more complicated meals in the future.
Essential Life Skills For Kids #3: Washing Dishes.
When you get into the “real world” you realize that you probably won’t have extra money to spend on disposable dishes, silverware, etc.
If you have a dishwasher, awesome! If not, tons of people (including my mother!) swear that hand washing is quicker and easier than using a dishwasher.
The key to washing dishes is getting them done right away or you will be fighting against piles of dishes with stuck-on food, every time you want to cook.
A piled-up sink full of dirty dishes will also make cooking feel impossible and overwhelming. I bet you'll find yourself spending money you don't have on take-out that you can't afford.
Hand Washing Dishes: Step by Step
- Fill the sink with soapy water.
- Add dishes to the soapy water as you use them.
- Go through and wash them as you cook (when you have a few minutes available).
- Wash your dinner dishes as soon as you’re done eating.
- Set them on a drying rack and put them away when they’re dry (a quick swipe with a microfiber cloth dries them quickly).
Essential Life Skills For Kids #4: Doing Laundry.
Clean clothes are another “must-have” in the real world. You’ll need to have clean and appropriate clothing for things like jobs and job interviews, and you may even want to go out on a date once in a while.
It’s easy to get backed up on laundry.
You’ll find yourself scrambling around for clean clothes on your first day back to work if you don’t establish a system for getting them clean. Finding real-life solutions for getting ahead so the laundry doesn’t become a problem is the key.
Essential Life Skills For Kids #5: Keeping a Schedule:
Learning to use a planner is life-changing. You can literally dump your whole life into this book and it allows you to automate a huge chunk of your day/week/month so you have less to think about (or worry about).
The Home Success Planner was created for people with ADHD or women who are just a hot mess like I was. It’s usually $27, but you can get it at a discount for $9 through this link. (Once you get the download, you’ll need to print it and get it bound.)
Essential Life Skills For Kids #6: Meal Planning:
This one little change will save you a TON of money. Planning ahead is almost ALWAYS the best way to save money.
Quick and Easy Meal Planning: Step by Step
- Grab a meal planning sheet with the days of the week on it. (You can print a free one by clicking here).
- Figure out what’s going on this week. (ex. Working late, soccer games, doctor appointments.)
- Mark any days that meals will be difficult with a small “X” in the corner.
- Put breakfast and lunches on autopilot. At least (until you get used to meal planning) for a few weeks. Write down 2 or 3 options for breakfast and lunch (bagels or cereal, leftovers or sandwiches) so you can plan mostly dinners.
- Choose easy dinners.
- On a separate sheet of paper, list the items that you would need to create those meals.
- Plan meals that need fresh ingredients for the beginning of the week.
Essential Life Skills For Kids #7: Grocery Shopping:
Grocery shopping is much more difficult than it looks! And, when you first start out (and even later down the road unless you learn how to do it right) you will most likely be spending a TON of extra money.
Because as you are walking through the store, randomly throwing things you like into your cart with no real plan, you will spend much more money than if you go into that store getting exactly what you need.
Having a plan will save you tons of money and tons of stress in the long run. And teaching life skills for your kids before they find themselves struggling in the “real world” will give them a HUGE advantage in life.
If you are looking for ideas of when to begin teaching Life Skills For Kids, this chore chart by ages is amazing…
P.S. If you’re actually struggling with life skills as an adult and aren’t really ready to teach them to your kids, we can help. Our specialty is teaching chronically disorganized women how to manage their homes and their lives (because they kind of go hand in hand) …
The good news is there are a few easy (like totally doable) home management and cleaning routines you can establish that WILL help you organize your life.
Hot Mess To Home Sucess will teach you how to set yourself up for success and get organized even if you’ve never found success in the past.
Hi! I'm Myra, the author of A Heart Full of Joy. I'm a happy wife and mom of five awesome kids and I absolutely LOVE being a mom! I want to help as many moms as possible have a more joyful home. Come get your fill of inspiring ideas to be a happier mom and create a family life you love!