Life Skills 101

“So, Mom, did you know that there was like a TOTAL CASCADING WATERFALL OF MILK off the counter this morning? Right here. My sock got some on it, but I still wore it all day.”

This was a conversation I had with Bennett this evening while he was working on making dinner for himself and his brothers. It came up because as he was making grilled pj&j, he dropped glob of jelly on his sock, and I told him to just take it off since it was almost time to shower anyway.

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And actually, I did not know about the milk waterfall. I was upstairs getting ready for the day, and B and Luke were eating breakfast together (Matt and Jack Henry were already on their way to baseball).

They’d done a pretty good job of cleaning it up, but you know, didn’t do it in a way that would truly pass Mom-inspection. So, I pulled out my newest trick: telling him I was going to teach him a Life Skill, instead of correcting what wasn’t done right.

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“Life Skill” has become a frequently-used phrase around here this summer. A couple of months ago, I realized that there are SO MANY THINGS – all the things – that a kid needs to know and know how to do. It’s not like you can just put them in a book and have them read it. It’s things that pop up in day-to-day life that make you think, “hey, a kid needs to know this.” Maybe I should make a list.

Like being able to take a few bucks into a Quik Trip and buy a bag of ice. Or how to do a load of laundry start to finish, or use the dishwasher. Or how to go up to a concession stand with your water bottle and politely ask for a refill, and say thank you when they give it back to you. Or how to order in a restaurant, giving the waitress your attention.

Or, figuring out how to put the dishes away that you can’t reach.

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So this evening, instead of correcting the cleanup that was done in the morning, I said, “Hey, buddy, I’ve got a Life Skill to teach you. Remember that little ant problem we’ve had in the kitchen? Well, ants like leftover food that’s on the floor. And if you don’t wipe up a spill like milk with a wet paper towel, they’ll find it.”

Easy peasy. Doesn’t sound judgmental. Problem solved.

WHY IN THE WORLD DID I NOT THINK OF THIS APPROACH BEFORE NOW?

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My favorite Life Skill teaching happened this morning though. Bennett, Luke and I were in the van on the way to Jack Henry’s last baseball game of the summer season. I had a bracelet I couldn’t put on myself, so I reached my arm behind me and told B what to do, then said, “You know, this a good skill for you to have when you’re older. Your girlfriend or wife might sometime need help with this.”

Bennett’s immediate response: “Well, the bracelet is on, but this is one skill I’m not going to need. Because I’m going to be single, and be a baseball player, and live with my dog.”

This has literally been his mantra all summer long. About not getting married, having his buddy Connor as a roommate since they’ll both be professional baseball players, and having a dog. (I’m all: “Life Skill: someone needs to take care of your dog while you’re on the road all the time with the MLB, cowboy. Maybe a wife would be a good idea. Also? I want grandchildren.”)

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So, help me out. What are some other things my boys need to know how to do on their own?

11 responses to “Life Skills 101

  1. I love this! I have been working hard this summer on teaching my kids life skills too! All too often I just do things myself because it’s quicker and easier, and I guess sometimes I just don’t think about it. Sudden I realized “why am I doing this all myself when I have two very able bodied children!” We have been working on many of the same things as you do, cleaning their bathroom, vacuuming and dusting, helping cook meals, doing laundry, putting away dishes. We have two dogs so feeding the dogs is also a life skill for them. Like you, things just pop up and I use it as a life skill lesson. Too many kids these days do nothing and expect everything to be handed to them on a silver platter. And that is the opposite of a life skill! Good job mom!

  2. Budgeting/saving money; grocery shopping in an economical way/bargain hunting (I mean, I know they’re YOUR kids, but…). 🙂

  3. Speaking of budgeting, I started a clothing allotment a couple years ago. They get a certain amount of money in the fall and again in the spring to spend on clothing and shoes. We go over the items they need to fill in what they have outgrown. If they choose to buy expensive brands, they get fewer items. Lydia quickly realized that her budget didn’t go as far shopping at Justice, and they both look at places like TJ Maxx and Marshall’s first. It has really helped them to realize how expensive things are and why we can’t just buy everything they want.

  4. I don’t have any additional ideas; I just have to say what an excellent job you’re doing! I absolutely sucked at this as a mom — you’ll (& they’ll) be so glad you took the time & had the patience to teach instead of just scolding/complaining &/or doing everything yourself!

    • Well thank you! But you couldn’t have done that bad a job…Matt and the girls turned out great, and that didn’t happen by itself! 🙂

  5. Love it! I have those moments all the time where I ask myself, “wait, why am I doing this when I have two capable boys who could help me?”. The life skill twist is great though! I have been trying to teach Cooper some basic cooking skills as well as some of those things you mentioned like laundry, dishes, etc. It was news to both boys that you cannot put large pieces of food in our old dishwasher….

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