What are the things you wish you knew when you were at university or when you moved into your first apartment?
There are certain life skills that every person needs to become well-functioning, independent human beings. Luckily, these can easily be woven into your day-to-day routine, meaning that now is the perfect time to help your kids develop these skills.
Budgeting may not be the most exciting topic, but it is never too early for kids to learn to be financially responsible and, considering the current economic climate, there has never been a better time to talk to them about the importance of budgeting and money management.
Tip: If you only teach your kids one financial rule, it should be the power of compound interest. They will thank you for it later.
Having the ability to cook from scratch is essential. Also, bonding over food is an activity the whole family can enjoy together. Cooking has several benefits – it allows kids to put effort into a tangible goal and see it through. It shows them how to follow a set of instructions in the right order, and it teaches them things like patience as they must finish each stage before moving on to the next.
Tip: If your kids are older, teach them about meal planning. Encourage them to help you plan family meals by checking the fridge and cupboards to see what’s there and what you need. Then let them make a shopping list that fits your budget.
Even relatively young children can help with loading the dishwasher or washing up by hand. Depending on your child’s age, supervision is essential to ensure sharp or breakable objects are handled carefully and correctly.
Tip: You can start by teaching younger kids through play, e.g. they could wash and dry a plastic tea set.
If you are tackling your DIY to-do list while ‘stuck’ at home, why not involve your kids. Knowing how to do basic repairs around the house will not only foster independence but may save them money later on. Start by teaching them how to handle and safely use various tools.
How to make a decent fire for a braai is an excellent skill to have, especially in a country where braaing is considered a national pastime.
Teaching your kids basic first aid is a great way of empowering them and may even enable them to help others in an emergency. While you are at it, add some general lessons on the importance of good health and hygiene.
Tip: Let your child help you stock your first aid kit. As you add items, ask if they know what each one is for and if they know how to use it.
Whether you have a large backyard or a few pots on a balcony, gardening is an engaging and satisfying activity for kids. Younger kids can plant seeds and be responsible for watering them regularly, while older kids can get involved in weeding and mowing.
Another vital skill! Show your kids how to use the washing machine, how to select the correct programme and how to measure the right amount of detergent. They can also help by hanging laundry out to dry, folding their own clothes and putting it away, and even learning how to iron.
For many children, owning a pet is their first experience of caring for something. Use this time to teach your kids to take responsibility for pets by feeding them, taking the dog for a walk, cleaning small animal cages, etc.
Sewing is quickly becoming a lost art. But luckily, most kids love the hands-on nature of needlework. You don’t need an expensive sewing machine to teach this skill; you can start by teaching your kids the basics such as sewing a button and mending small tears.
After a few demonstrations of how to change a tyre, allow your kids to try it themselves. Even if they are too young to properly secure the tyre at this stage, merely knowing how to change a tyre is essential. Also, show them how to check the water and oil and, while you are at it, tell them what the warning lights inside the car mean.
Wrapping a gift
You don’t have to wait for someone’s birthday, simply provide paper and tape and encourage your kids to wrap household objects of different shapes and sizes.
Tip: This is also a great creative activity. Let your kids design their own wrapping paper using coloured pens and stickers or cut up old cards to make gift tags. Bonus life lesson – reuse and recycle.
Teaching your kids these life skills – which, as adults, we take for granted – is essential. These life skills not only equip kids with the tools to become independent and responsible human beings, but they also boost kids’ confidence and knowledge.
PS: If you find that you do not have any of these skills, you too can use this time to learn. YouTube is a fantastic resource.
By Danielle Barfoot