I’m writing this on the first official day of summer vacation, and I’ve been doing some thinking over the weeks leading up to this day. My goal for this summer is that, come August, my teenage boys are ready to be self-sufficient and lead independent, productive lives. I’m calling it “Bootcamp Summer.”
It’s not that I’m not willing to whip up some pancakes and wash their bath towels for several more years, but all kids need to have the life skills to live on their own by the time they graduate from high school, in my opinion.
My introspection was prompted by a couple of things. First, I ran into a friend of mine who told me, in all seriousness, that her son brought an entire semester’s worth of dirty clothes home from college because he didn’t know how to do laundry.
Then, another friend who works in a call center for a local cable service had to work with a college student on the phone who didn’t know her address because her mom handles all her mail and her correspondence, including bills.
I started compiling a list of things that I wanted to do with my boys this summer to make sure they had all the skills they will need by the time they graduate from high school. We started out by ironing dress shirts the right way. Then, we filled out bank deposit slips (you know, the “old fashioned” kind) for their bank deposits.
They also cut the grass, weeded flower beds and put down mulch. They’ve been doing their own laundry and cleaning their own bathroom for several years now, so I polled my friends to see what other skills would be essential to know before they left the nest. Here’s what they said:
- Cooking a few good meals, from planning, budgeting, shopping and executing, including re-purposing leftovers
- Writing a check
- Putting gas in a car
- Changing a tire
- Jump starting an engine
- Washing dishes by hand
- Loading a dishwasher correctly
- Changing/cleaning air filters in household appliances
- Making their own appointments
- Using a calendar and scheduling
- Reading instructions and following them
- Making a budget and sticking to it
- Using public transportation
- Establishing and maintaining good credit
- How to check oil levels and replace oil in your car
- Sew a button on shirt/pants
- How to manage a retirement plan/401K
- Fill out employment paperwork
- How to (correctly) apply for a job, fill out a job application, ask for references and provide them
- How to make your bed and change your sheets
- How to send mail at the post office with insurance/overnight/signature-needed requirements
- How to set up accounts in their name for utilities, etc… This might be hard to show them without actually doing it, but if you have the opportunity to do it yourself, bring them along for the process.
- Familiarize them with their own important documents, social security cards, birth certificates, etc.
- Using basic household tools
- How to address an envelope and write a proper letter
What would you add to this list?