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Raising Adults: Essential Life Skills Teenagers Need Before Moving Out
By Gabrielle Labourier
Home economics classes used to be part of the school curriculum but have unfortunately been removed in most countries.
These classes were excellent at teaching children and teenagers important, practical skills needed in life such as cooking, housework, basic finances and more. While these classes have been removed from schools, they aren’t always replaced with any equivalent at home and many teenagers are now leaving home at 18 without basic life skills which can quickly become problematic. Take it from someone who was still recently living in university accommodation with a group of newly-independent “adults” : an alarming number of 18 year olds don’t know how to do their own laundry or cook a basic meal, much less change a tyre or unclog a toilet; incidents that are bound to happen at some point. To help you help your teen get ready to leave home, here are some essential life skills they need to know before moving out, and where they can get the information online to learn on their own.
1. Basic Household & Vehicle Maintenance
Your child probably (and hopefully) knows how to clean their room, even if they hate doing it, and they likely know how to empty the dishwasher and set the table. However, there are many more “basic” household duties they might not know how to do such as changing a vacuum bag, unclogging a drain or plunging a toilet. These aren’t fun activities to do, but they do need doing every now and again, and can be undertaken by most adults, usually without having to call a specialist and pay a fortune. Make sure your teen knows how to do these types of basic chores unless you want to get a call every time their toilet doesn’t flush, a lightbulb dies, or the power goes off.
“Dad, how do I?” is a popular YouTube channel with videos explaining how to perform many different maintenance duties, a resource created by a dad who grew up without a father. He explains in easy to understand terms how to do everyday activities one might not instinctively know. If your child leaves home with a vehicle or expects to buy one shortly after, they need to know how to do basic maintenance work such as changing a tyre, popping the hood to change oil and fluids, or even jumpstarting the car when necessary. These can all be learned online with helpful step by steps guides or videos and everyone will need these skills at some point in time, whether for themselves or for a friend.
2. Doing Laundry
As obvious as it may seem, many young adults don’t know how to do their own laundry, often because they’ve always had a parent or household help to do it for them. However, this won’t be the case anymore once they move out and teens need to know how to do laundry, read labels to wash items correctly, and how to iron clothes which require doing so. Knowing how to wash different fabrics, which temperatures to use, and removing stains is crucial in making clothes last longer and to avoid shrinking. The New York Times published a useful guide on learning how to do laundry which your teen can read here to practice before moving out.
3. Managing A Budget
Understanding how to manage money by creating a budget is a much-needed skill for any adult, and even some younger teens. They’ll need to have basic budgeting skills to understand where their money is coming from, and where it is going. Budgeting how much to spend on groceries, bills, and entertainment all the while trying to save some money for a rainy day is no easy task and takes practice. A well-known budgeting technique is the 50/20/30 method where 50% of income goes towards essentials such as rent, transport, bills, food etc. 20% of income is then put aside as savings for emergencies (which are inevitable) or for repaying student loans and debts, while the remaining 30% is used for entertainment and non-essentials such as going out to eat, holidays, shopping etc. This method is one of the easiest to manage and is less restrictive if you manage to live within your means. Having some money set aside in savings is essential as unexpected incidents such as job loss, car repairs, or illness can occur at any time and often cost more than expected.
There are many free budgeting apps available that your child can use to get started in life if they struggle to budget without any help. Why not try one like Money Dashboard which allows you to track where your money is going, sort your transactions into categories and much more.
4. Food Shopping & Cooking
Before they can cook, your teenager will need to go shopping for essential groceries and they’ll spend more wisely and efficiently if they know how to properly read and compare labels and if they know how to pick the right produce in the right season. This handy guide on selecting the right produce is a great place for them to start learning on their own.
Cooking is a skill every adult needs to know as ordering takeaway or going out to eat is not financially sustainable in the long run. We can’t expect everyone to cook like Gordon Ramsay, but knowing how to make pasta, sandwiches, eggs, smoothies and some vegetables doesn’t take much effort and can usually be undertaken by anyone. Your teen will need to know how to prepare a few healthy meals, and most importantly know about basic food hygiene principles when handling raw meat or fish which they can read about here. There are plenty of cooking tutorials available at the click of the button if they feel safer following a video rather than a printed recipe. The Simple Cooking Channel is an aptly named YouTube channel with a vast range of recipes, all categorised to be easy to navigate so why not start there for basics.
5. Basic First Aid
Most schools will have some form of first aid courses that students will take part in at some point, but many of these are CPR-oriented and won’t necessarily cover what to do in case of a fever, a cold, a cut, or a minor burn. If you know the basics, teach them to your teenagers so they are able to handle situations without panicking, and teach them when to seek medical help. If they want to study first aid on their own, this guide covers the basics from cuts and burns to stings. Knowing what to do in case of injury without panicking or wasting time is a precious skill to have as it can save lives.
These are 5 of the main skills teenagers should have before moving out to live on their own, and if your teenager has already mastered these skills, then congratulations, you’ve raised an adult who is ready to live on their own. If they have a few more to master, no need to worry, all the above links are excellent, and your teenager will have time to practice the necessary skills before moving out!
Author: Gabrielle Labourier