Thursday, October 05, 2006

The importance of learning life skills...

Life skills are so important to learn for life!

Over the many years of child rearing within our parenting duties we’ve logged on, it’s always been our desire as parents to ensure our children will be completely successful with knowledge of (at the very least) basic life skills.

Lunch duty

Chop, chop, we're helping out

Our goals have been simple really. When our children grow up, and are prepared to venture out of our nest, they will experience one of these scenarios; live on their own having a single vocation, marry having a spouse, or share space with a roommate. Whatever the path, they will succeed tremendously in life if they are well aware how to perform life skills around the home, not only how to tackle them, but why to do them and how often will be necessary for good general health if anything at all.

I'm so lucky, today I get to help with the dishes

Therefore, no matter the age of the child in this home, chores are generally tailored and adapted to the age and ability of each child, revolving between basic household cleanliness, kitchen helpers, assisting with outdoor necessities, and everything in between as maturity dictates more responsibilities.

Folding my own laundry

Yep folks, we are a team!

Add to this another checklist of pertinent items to learn as maturity allows, basic or complex as they might be; learning first aid and attending a mandatory babysitter’s course due to having many siblings and now nieces and nephews.

Just me and my niece

They’ve been taught and have the ability to perform simple acts of checking and/or changing the furnace filter, plunging a toilet and turning off the water for necessary items, know what to do in the event of a power failure, fire safety around a fireplace and candles/matches, how to test and clean smoke detectors, work a household alarm system, and know a fire escape route from the home. Taking a course on “consumer math” has been a must for each high school student somewhere in the mid to upper years of their education, learning the value of simple bookkeeping and that of balancing a checkbook, also the super importance of remaining at best - out of any debt.

A natural skill which came in handy when enabled
to create ballet costumes in exchange for prviate dance lessons

Even the boys were taught to sew.
Some chose never to do it again,
however they learned the skill anyway.

Those still living at home have had to learn something new here in the east, safety around overhead wiring, usage of outdoor power tools and the ride on mower, gasoline concerns, and of course so much more.

Time to walk the dogs

Pet duty has doubled with the menagerie in the barn, and much to our chagrin, they are admittedly doing a very fine job with that topic. Now to remember to feed the fish in the house and all will be well…laugh.

The team having a break while helping dad with yardwork

As the teens age, it’s a given to teach and pass along information so they can take responsibilities over with the family vehicles (with parental assistance and participation), little fiddly items such as ensuring the windshield washer fluid is filled up and the fluid cavity levels are where they should be and of course, general additional tasks of washing the vehicle outsides and vacuuming interiors for a fee to us as an “extra” duty for cash.

Peeling apples for making a huge vat of applesauce

One son now has the responsibility of the simple vehicle maintenance issues we encounter with our vehicles, that of not only the fluid checks, but also checking the oil, gauging tire pressure, and will also learn how to change a tire soon enough.

Always a lawnmowing duty to care of over the years

Along the way though, it’s amazing how we were sometimes ridiculed by other parents, as they felt it more important to do the household chores themselves while their children were in school because they couldn’t stand the way their children did them!

Kitchen helpers!

Our children’s chores revolve around a weekly schedule, so if a child had a buddy over for the day, those children visiting were welcomed and encouraged to assist with the duties, things like kitchen clean up and dishes to make the chores completed sooner. Many remarked on how they never did anything at home….ever then marveled at how we all moved around in good order working together to accomplish goals for the timing of the day as a team. They said; their beds were made for them, clothing gently folded and in their drawers by some magical fairy, no expectations whatsoever were expected. We find that actually very sad. The parents are not doing them any favors at all, because in the big wide “real” world, life isn’t like that and the children are being set up for failure for their years ahead without any knowledge of how to become an independent member of society.

The baking guys and gals!

Imagine too if mom or dad becomes ill, what would the house look like, how would meals get onto the table, and who would assist the family when other family members are simply helpless and not cognizant of their own household functions? Ah, but the loss of the learning curve is missed within the younger years and into the adult levels. No child could boil the kettle and bring you up a cup of tea then with fresh baked buns to nibble on. Our children have announced to me they love it when I’m ill or not feeling well enough to complete my own chores for the day. (Sounds awful for them to think that way huh?) They enjoy being “mom for the day”, doting on me and tending to my needs, and they are completely capable of running the entire household should they have need to do that. It’s a rare thing for me to be under the weather though, lucky for them as the novelty might wear thin.

This early photo shows two very capable kitchen
helpers in charge of making a vegetable platter
for the afternoon snacking time.

Our children learned and have been taught “All Of Life Is School”, so there’s so much more to learn than mere book work. Some things are just not found there! Being “street-smart” has huge merits, and having knowledge of life skills will be a bonus to them, as they travel onward in life on the road to adulthood.

Working in a wood working shop with my dad

Yes, often we realized we were an anomaly, with other parents of the children’s friends not having the same instruction or upbringing, often doing nothing at home to assist in the team efforts. That’s the key though! It’s a “Team effort”, for there is no “I” in the word team! Hands down, it works to teach children what will be “next” after schooling is complete. All is done for the good of the family unit! Many hands make work light!

Many hands make work light

In our experience too, the old saying of “Cleanliness is next to Godliness” is true and will prevail as you become fed up with habits being formed the wrong way. On the flip side, it takes TIME to teach proper skills in life, and if you don’t take that time necessary to pass along the methods, it’s also not going to succeed the way you’d prefer.

Kneading pizza dough for dinner

Shredding the cheese for the pizza

And yet another pizzeria night at home

We’ve all been there right? Oh, come on…groan! Clothes under beds with dust bunnies growing on them, sweaty dirty clothing piles up in the far reach corners of the closets, coats/shoes and boots in utter disarray, sporting equipment all over the garage, whatever… Sometimes due to utter chaos, we review and teach - yet again, the importance of organization and everything placed back where it belongs. Oh yes, there are draw backs, hills and valleys to cross over often requiring nipping bad habits in the bud before they get out of hand, though usually we return to normalcy and things become much better for clutter attacks.

Square foot gardening 101

Within the realm of our life’s experiences of children and chores, teaching life skills to them all, in the end we can state we’ve tried very hard to sift out and pass along tools of the trade for living a good life with confidence for enabling knowledge to the “little things” certain to follow them around, those that count and are of huge importance to them, and not observing our adult children simply coasting along, depending on others for simple assistance. Once living on their own, should they choose not to complete their tasks in life themselves, at the very least, they will have knowledge of it, and they can hire someone else to do their mundane chores, marry and share with a spouse, or simply use their puppy dog eyes and get volunteers to assist them, those poor souls who require aid. (laugh)

Never too young to begin learning about life skills!