As with most children, mine would get upset and whine about doing "chores." What they might not have realized until they left home was I was trying to teach them some life skills that would later on become important. Here are a few things to teach your kids before they leave home:
1. Laundry. Ever have pink underwear when it was supposed to be white? Kids can begin early with helping to separate the bright colors from the whites from the darks. Have kids start looking at labels when they buy clothes to see if some items need to be dry cleaning, handwashed or hung up to dry instead of using the dryer.
2. Bank Account. It has shocked me throughout the years of raising kids that many have no idea how to balance a checkbook. Many banks offer free checking and savings accounts for kids as well as basic classes in that regard. Let kids learn how to use an ATM, how to save money and make deposits, and how to read bank statements. My children also needed to learn how to use a debit/credit card on-line. Show them how and where to enter the security code, the expiration date, and credit card number.
3. Cooking. Kids can begin with stirring items and work up to an entire meal with a main course and sides. My children tend to eat healthier when they can make their own meals. Pizza can get old after a while in college.
4. Table Manners. My mom and I used to have fun with this one. The use of utensils is usually pretty easy since you started from the outside and worked your way in but what about napkins, how to properly eat soup, passing food, and when to start eating? Miss Manners was a staple in our household. My dad used to always ask me, “What are you going to do when you have dinner with the President.” I would always reply that I was never having dinner with the President. Guess who I had dinner with when I was 23 years old? I certainly thanked my parents then as well as when I now have dinner meetings and formal dinners with clients.
5. Vehicle Maintenance. Once my kids get their permit, I make them start to put gas in the car. I also make sure they know how to check the oil (and know how important it is to get oil changes), where to refill their washer fluid, and possibly even how to change a flat tire.
6. Travel. Although I traveled all over the world with my kiddos, I realized that I had done all of the planning, the check-ins, and made sure we were able to get around. Let the children do their own check-in at the airport. They can also help in finding flights and pay for them.
7. Talking. My children would sometimes tell me about an issue with a teacher. I wasn’t in the class. If they had a problem with a teacher (for the most part) I would have them go discuss it themselves. Eventually when they are in college and/or working with a boss, they will probably have an issue they will need to discuss.
Do you have other things that you feel are important to teach before they leave home?
No, I am not talking about your mother-in-law, people. Nice try. And no, this is not about that solicitor who always seems to come up to the door no matter how large the “NO SOLICITORS” sign is in your front window…and rings the bell the moment the cranky baby finally gets to sleep for a nap…because she did not sleep all night…and neither did you…but I digress. This is about those neighbor’s dogs that tend to use your yard as their personal bathroom and the ants who think that you should be sharing your sugar in the pantry.
1. Deer in the Garden. This one may not apply to all, obviously, but here in Colorado and in many other states it does. For some reason, deer do not like eggs and chili. Deer also do not like human hair, moth balls, blood meal, or dried blood, but I think I will continue to pass on the blood-letting in favor of eggs and habanero. Blend two eggs and 1/4 cup of habanero chili to every 4 cups of water and spray/sprinkle on the plants early in the season before the buds come out. Reapply once a month and after a hard rain.
2. Dogs in the Yard. I would watch my neighbor’s dog come over every day and poop in my yard. I would yell, scream, talk to my neighbor, anything and everything, but nothing worked. My own dog sniffed some black pepper one day (at this point I don’t remember how that even came to be) and I noticed he backed away immediately and started sneezing. Hummmm…..I bought a few containers of black pepper at the store and dumped it about a foot wide around the perimeter of my yard…and waited…I watched that dog come over toward my yard the next day, saw him sniff, and he never came into my yard again. Be sure to make the area fairly wide, spread it on thick, and reapply when you water or there is a heavy rain. Another item you can use is red pepper.
3. Ants in the House. Not sure how I discovered this one either, and may have been my mom with her infinite knowledge, but I remember living in a home in the middle of nowhere and ants decided it was their home as well. I was a clean person too, but once they get in, ants can be hard to get rid of. I found ants would not cross a line of vinegar. It does need to be 100% strong, though. Another common household item to use are coffee grounds. If you can see where they are coming from or even better, find their hole, put some coffee grinds down and after a few days they should be gone. The coffee is fatal for ants.
4. Squirrels in the Flowers. I always thought squirrels were so cute and could not understand why my mom did not like them…until they got into my attic. Grrrrr…They also ate all of my flowers! I was fine when they ate the pumpkins in the fall because that meant less for me to toss and I am not a great pumpkin carver anyway. Great excuse. “It looks bad because the squirrels ate on it! I swear!”
I never cared for marigolds growing up. They didn’t smell very good and I never really cared for how they looked but my mom planted them every year. I discovered that squirrels did not like them so in order for my childhood home to have flowers and not just greenish stems all summer, this is what my mom planted. Maybe mom did know something about life! Shhhhh….Don’t tell her I admitted that.
5. Mosquitos in my Veins. Yes, I do know about a little thing called DEET, but if I can keep from using it, I will. Witch Hazel is a good alternative. Mix one ounce Witch Hazel to three ounces of water and spray away. The little pests also don’t tend to like lemongrass, eucalyptus, or peppermint either. Add several drops to your witch hazel spray to add an extra repellant. Mosquitos also are attracted to darker clothing which is a sad thing for me since my favorite color to wear is black.
Obviously, none of these remedies are “fool-proof” but they have worked pretty well for me. If you have some other great homemade remedies for pests, post them in the comments! I would love to hear what works for you!
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