As summer began, my hubby and I realized that our time is short before our kids, especially our soon-to-be high school junior, leave home. We have been pretty good about teaching our kids life skills, but realized that there are always more good things to get across before the birdies leave the nest. During a relaxing moment on the back porch and after discarding several amusing ideas, we put a short list together of five things we want to teach our kids this summer…
1. How to plan and cook meals. The first thing we are working on is how to plan and cook at least five days worth of meals. This came up because my high schooler is now a vegetarian. As other parents whose teens have made this choice will attest, this is killing me for meal planning; my middle schooler is adamantly NOT a vegetarian. Both my kids already can fry an egg or put a pizza in the oven. They are excellent at ramen noodles (gag). However, I think they should be able to actually think about what “real food” they would like to eat for a week and be able to enjoy it without going out. So this is the first summer project we are undertaking. They will find recipes, figure out if we have the needed veggies growing in our garden, grocery shop (with our money, sadly), do the meal prep, cook, and anything else that goes along with feeding a family. We are giving them a break and only asking for five meals, and those can be breakfast, lunch, or dinner, but at least one of each.
2. How to get around San Antonio without a car. We grew up in a big city with great public transportation. Some may be horrified to know that at the age of seven my mother would let me hop on the bus to take the 20-minute ride to my dad’s office in downtown Chicago. And, in fact, my oldest has taken the subway in South Korea by herself already, but Korea is one of the safest countries in the world, with video cameras tracking your every move, so I do not feel like that counts. Originally, I was just thinking I wanted them to learn how to take the bus here, but some of my friends kindly pointed out that learning about taxis and ride-sharing services might also be a good idea. I have to be honest, though; my husband and I have never taken the bus in San Antonio, so we will have to learn right alongside them.
3. How to manage finances. When I asked my friends about what they thought kids should learn before they flew the coop, they all said finances. Both our children have had prepaid credit cards for awhile now. We put their allowance on it every month. They make all of their purchases with these cards. This means if they leave their wallets at home when we go to Target, they cannot buy collectible game cards or clothes that are not on my list for them. If they want to run to the gas station for an ice tea and chips, they have to pay. So they know about some of this. On a grander scale and per the suggestion of another ACMB contributor, we will explore the joys of compounding interest. We will take some money out of their minimal interest-earning savings account (yes, they are already saving a portion of their allowance every month) and put the money in a higher earning option. This obviously won’t be completed by the end of the summer, but it is the start of a great conversation about the best way to earn on their savings.
4. How to schedule and manage appointments. My kiddos have been very dependent on my making all of their appointments, mostly because the adults have super busy schedules and an appointment somewhere involves me or Dad driving them to that appointment. Dad and I already share a Google calendar to make our scheduling easier. This summer the kids are going to be added to the calendar sharing and will start making some of their appointments themselves. More importantly, making appointments also involves researching phone numbers and communicating clearly with other humans. I have noticed that my kids seem to freak out a little if they have to call someone and are often awkward on the phone. We will clearly have to do some role playing before any of this happens so calling an office on the phone does not seem like a crazy idea. Hopefully I won’t regret allowing someone else the ability to add to my schedule!
5. How to wake yourself up in the morning. The last thing we are going to work on, which is a big deal, is “waking yourself up.” I know this is an important part of time management. My husband has finally convinced me that chronic tardiness is very rude to other people and, of course, oversleeping all of the time could be one cause. This will be a challenge and will certainly involve some amusement since my teen sleeps like the dead and can carry on a conversation while sleeping convincing you she is awake without actually being awake. I have some empathy because it was also a big issue for me into college, but I realize nipping it in the bud now would be so much better for them and me. Of course, my children are absolutely in the age range in which they can participate in the problem solving for this. Certainly one of the key issues is getting enough sleep, so going to bed earlier is a bold solution that both of my children will reject as lame. Natural consequences won’t work during the school year because I promise you my kids would not care if they missed school. And our high schooler definitely cannot walk there if she misses the school bus. I am predicting some very loud alarm clocks in our future and am open to suggestions on this particular project.
What five “important to their adult futures” tasks do you want your children to learn how to do this summer?