Keeping your brain young sounds fabulous. Having your life fall apart because you can't keep a budget is not so fabulous, so I read with fascination about an "Adulting School" in Maine that takes people who are chronologically already adults and teaches them how to act their age.

It's a great niche market and I'm glad someone is making money off people who need these skills, but frankly, I'd prefer that my children don't end up needing an adulting class when they are 25. Or heck, 18. I'd like to prepare them for life, and I'm sure you would too.

There are some aspects of adulting that are harder to teach this generation than it was in previous generations. For instance, I learned how to pay bills by watching my mom with a stack of bills and the checkbook. When I got older, she would have me write the checks and she'd sign them. Great skill. Except now, how do I pay bills? Online. Click, click, done. My kids can't tell if I'm paying bills, writing an article, or goofing off on Facebook, unless I tell them.

If you want your children to be successful, or if you want other people's children to be successful so you can hire them, make sure you teach these skills every chance you get.

1. Cooking.

The adulting school teaches how to cook rather than order takeout. While I consider ordering take out a necessary life skill, cooking is more so. Your toddler can help you put ingredients into a mixing bowl. Your 6-year-old can learn to make scrambled eggs. Your 8-year-old can make a box cake mix, and your 10-year-old can follow a recipe. Your teen can make a complete dinner. You just need to take the time to teach.

2. Sewing.

I'm not going to argue that being able to set a sleeve is a necessary skill, but hemming is. It's not hard if you've had a few practice runs. If you don't know how to do it, YouTube tutorials can help you out.

3. Cleaning a bathroom.

You need a different cleaner for the bathtub than for the mirror. You shouldn't scrub the toilet with a rag and then use that same rag to clean the sink. Get those skills going.

4. Cleaning the kitchen.

Why is this different than cleaning the bathroom? Because you need to know how to clean out the refrigerator--including removing, cleaning, and replacing shelves. What about how to clean an over without killing yourself with fumes? And throw in taking care of a cast-iron pan while you're at it. What can go in the dishwasher and what should never come near it?

5. Basic household tasks.

Everyone should know how to change a lightbulb, the toilet paper roll, and the vacuum cleaner bag (or empty the vacuum if you have a bagless vacuum).

6. Budget.

If you hand your kid money every time she asks, she won't learn to budget anything. Whether your child has to earn money or you hand out an allowance, make sure you teach your child that if she buys that bracelet today, she won't have enough money to go to the movies with her friends on Saturday. Consequences are the best teacher. Along with budgeting comes the idea of paying bills. Bills need to be paid on time and in full. Don't let your child get into debt. No borrowing money today. Cash only, up front.

7. Getting up and out of the house.

One key aspect of being an adult is getting to work on time. If mom or dad is in charge of waking up the children every morning and gives constant reminders of when the child needs to leave, your teen is going to grow into an adult who can't get herself to work on time. Yes, there are consequences for being late to high school. They are not as bad as the consequence for being late to work.

8. How to work hard.

It is so much easier to do tasks yourself than it is to have your children do this. But, if you can't teach your child how to work, your child will suffer in the long run. Everyone needs to know how to get an assignment and complete it by the deadline. Whether this is cleaning the bathroom or writing a paper, your child needs to accomplish this on her own.

9. Laundry.

Whites and darks should not be washed together. Laundry needs to go from the washer to the dryer or the line in a reasonable amount of time, or it will mold. Some things need to be hung to dry. Some things need to be hand washed. Some things should be washed in hot and some in cold. Time for a laundry lesson.

10. Failure.

This is the most important of all the adulting skills. Why? Because mommy and daddy can fix your life when you're young, but they can't when you get older. When your child makes a mistake, let her face the consequences. If she spills a glass of milk, she helps you clean it up when she's a toddler and she cleans the whole thing up herself when she's seven. If she gets a bad grade, she suffers the consequences. There are times when a parent needs to step in, but if you step in all the time, your child won't learn how to recover from failure. That recovering from failure is the key to adulting success.

One of the best ways to teach adulting is to let your kids have some free range to learn and try on their own. You may be amazed at what your child can do if you just let her go. 

Now that I've written this list out, I've seen a few areas where my own parenting is lacking. My children have no school today, and so I've put them to work in my adulting training. In other words, they are cleaning up while I write. There are benefits.

Published on: Mar 6, 2017