The time has come, mama. Your baby is flying the coop and you want to make sure he knows these basic life skills. How do you summarize 18 or so years into a few essential skills? What things does your kid need to know before he flies the coop? Here are 25 important things kids needs to know before leaving home.
If your young adult will be flying the coop in the fall, help them develop these (perhaps) new habits before leaving home. Use these short days this summer to ease your own mind with their knowledge of how the world works. As the mama, your mind will be put at ease too (somewhat).
What Kids Need to Know Before Leaving Home
So what does your daughter need to know before you launch her into the world? I know you’ve raised her right, but you may have forgotten to teach her how to write a check, or maybe even forgotten to order some to take with her. Does your son know how to take his temperature? Let’s get busy and teach them some easy recipes. Or better yet, let them take charge of the family dinners for a week or two.
What do they really need to know before they leave home?
Let’s get them ready!
Does your young adult know the rules of laundry? Make sure she knows how to read a clothing label, and how to measure laundry detergent. While ironing is no longer a necessary skill in the miraculous era of wrinkle spray, sometimes ironing is necessary. Does he know how to iron a shirt without burning it? Teach him how to make easy clothing repairs like sewing on a button. It would be helpful to have a small sewing kit in his possession as well.
Basic Health and First Aid
Does your son know how to read a thermometer and take his temperature? (He should have one in his first aid kit.) Does he know when it’s time to see the doctor? College days are a time of notoriously bad self-care. Help your child understand the importance of nutrition and vitamin supplements, as well as adequate sleep. Odds are he will call you when he is feeling poorly, but being educated before he’s sick somehow is empowering for them. Help your daughter know that her grades will inevitably suffer when she doesn’t take care of herself.
Does your child know what to do in a crisis or emergency? This includes both physical emergency and a mental health emergency. What should they do when a friend is threatening harm to themselves? What about when a friend is missing? This area is possibly the most important information that your kid needs to know.
Every day the news tells of missing persons and active shooters. This world is scary, but we can be prepared. I talk often to my kids about listening to that ‘little voice’ and acting on it. Help them trust the feeling when something seems ‘off’ in a given situation.
While we need to think through difficult scenarios, we don’t need to dwell in them as mamas. When we don’t have access or control of our young adults, it’s easy to let fear take over our imaginations. Let’s be strong, my friend. Fear is the enemy.
Feeling a little nervous about your emptying nest? It’s ok, my friend, change is good and you are amazing! Let me send you my free printable Empty Nest? 20 Ways to ReDefine Yourself. Just shoot me your email at the bottom of this post.
Love vs. Infatuation
Teens and young adults often learn by trial and error in the love department. Being out on their own gives freedom (which is often unhealthy) in this area. Help your child develop a healthy skepticism toward love interests, developing friendships long before a dating relationship is begun. This goes against the world’s view of love these days, but old-fashioned values are always safe.
Register to Vote
Perhaps the most important sign of adulthood, teach your child the value of participating in the election process. Their vote matters, always. Often, they can opt to register to vote when they renew a drivers license.
Cooking and Nutrition
Learn Basic Recipes
Help your child learn some basic recipes, even if they include a microwave. Whether they are moving into an apartment or dorm room, this will save them money when budgets drain quickly. Eating out is expensive, and unnecessary. Pick up a small crockpot (around $10) at Walmart and learn a few easy ‘dump’ recipes for it. Nutrition doesn’t have to be expensive.
Read Price Tags
Help your young adult learn how to read price tags in the grocery store, and how they are sometimes deceptive. Teach them to look at the unit price to get the best deal. Saving money on groceries takes some practice, and you can help.
Plan a Menu with a Budget
Teach your child how a food budget can blow their total budget, and how to save money in that area by making a grocery list for simple and economical meals and sticking to it. Fast food is expensive and a budget buster. Though universities offer food plans, fast food can be found everywhere on campus these days, and it’s expensive. Food is the one area where your kids probably haven’t given much thought since most often you supervised that area. Teach them about prices in the live classroom of the grocery store.
Basic food fact: Leaving food out in the open invites bugs and other creepy creatures into your living space. You’ve probably dealt with this issue in their rooms. Now, however, they’re the only ones who can fix it and clean it up. Odds are you’ve probably lived through mounds of day-old pizza on the counter in your own college days. I know, I get it. But, no one wants roommates of the furry kind.
How to Create a Budget and Stick to It
This may be one of the most important areas to teach your launching adult. There are many apps that can help in this area, including Mvelopes, and Every Dollar. Help them divide their monthly money into categories and only spend what’s allotted within them. Budgeting is a habit that must be chiseled individually. It requires discipline and circumspection in order to spend wisely. Budgeting is a very important thing that kids need to know before leaving home.
How to Pay Bills
This is the #1 area that proves your young adult actually knows how to ‘adult’. Credit histories can be messed up if bills are unpaid or late. Most of his bill wills be paid online, but setting it up may require your help.
Dangers of Revolving Credit
Help them understand the dangers of revolving credit and credit cards. Credit cards look shiny and enticing but can end up biting them in the hiney. Young adults are prey to credit card companies. It’s terrible, really. Many are the college students that fall prey to credit cards and then can’t swim out of danger. Help your kid just say no to needless credit cards.
How to Pay Taxes
Income taxes are pretty easy to navigate these days, but when the time comes, doing taxes inevitably seem daunting. If your young adult has had any type of job to this point, he knows something about completing a W2 form, etc. Remind him, when starting a new job, of what his withholding should be, so that he will retain all the money that he can now, instead of after taxes.
How to Write a Check
I hardly ever write checks anymore. But occasionally there is a need for one. Make sure your kid knows how to write one, and the laws surrounding every blank that must be completed to make it legal.
How to be a Good Houseguest
New friends are part of the package of leaving home. It’s up to your kid to make a good impression if they are asked to visit a friend’s family’s home. They might not know to bring a small gift if invited to the home of a friend’s family. While this is probably not necessary, at the very least, they should remember to write a thank-you note afterward.
Stand Up and Offer a Chair
When participating in an event or situation with less than adequate seating, remind your son to offer his chair to someone who may need it, whether elderly or pregnant or simply female. Being a gentleman is also part of adulting.
Simple table manners make a big impression these days. Putting a napkin in your lap, and waiting to eat until everyone is present and seated are thoughtful a sign of good breeding. Remember the old rule of chewing with your mouth closed, as well as saying ‘excuse me’ when leaving the table during the meal.
Say No Respectfully
This is important. Saying NO is a necessary skill and is paramount to self-discipline and self-respect. Not feeling pressure to go along with everything friends may want to do makes a capable adult. The time will come when saying no will be uncomfortable, for a variety of reasons. Help them develop their spines here, and to have the courage to walk away if need be.
Write a Thank-You Note
In case your kid hasn’t written his share of thank-you notes, help them to compose a simple one to know the structure. There is value in honesty and gentle, polite thoughtfulness.
Look People in the Eye
In an age of phones and screens to distract us, the art of looking people in the eye in a conversation is being lost in the process of growing up. Direct communication is a filter that shakes out successful people from the rest. Always look people in the eye when talking with them gives the other person the respect they deserve.
How to Read a Map
Map reading is a dying skill! Help your kid know how to figure out location and destination. Though we tend to live in the world with GPS, there may come a day when we are without it. Young adults need to know how to read a map.
Does your kid know how to check the oil in her car (and the importance of getting it changed)? How about checking the fluid levels? Tire pressure? Does he know how to change a flat? Make your kid aware that preventive maintenance actually saves money because when the small maintenance is done regularly, it prevents bigger more expensive issues.
How to Jump Start a Car
Does your kid know their way around a set of jumper cables? Refresh yourself here as to the rules of jumper cable hookup.
What To Do in an Accident
Does he know what paperwork to pull out of the glove box (or even to have in there) in the event of an accident (or traffic ticket)? Will he know what words to say and not to say to the other party and how to talk to the police? Does he have access to insurance information and /or phone number?
Let Them Fly
So there you have it! I pray you’ve learned some new ways to help your kids learn to adult, perhaps some that you may have forgotten. Don’t assume your kid knows what they need to know in some of these areas. Your young adult will appreciate knowing these important things before leaving home, though probably later when life happens.
Every kid encounters their own bumps and bruises along the way. Each one of my own offspring has chosen their own path, often much different from what I anticipated. But, my sisters, I can help to get them ready, and try to make sure your kid knows these things before leaving home.
The months leading up to your young adult leaving the nest can be fraught with conflict and tension. Making a break can be painful. But remember, mamas, change is good. Change means growth, and we shouldn’t fear change, but instead embrace it. You’ve raised amazing kids!
Let them fly!
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