Teaching Kids Essential Life Skills

Okay, let’s really think about this. Any parents, caretakers, babysitters, or anyone who has taken care of children, what is the hardest part? If you ask me, it’s teaching them essential life skills. You know what I mean, all of the things that we could do backwards with our eyes closed. Let’s talk about some of the every day, mundane skills we have to teach kids that are just second nature (I hope) to us as adults.

Sleeping: I know newborns sleep A LOT, but once they get to a certain age, we pretty much have to beg them to sleep. Whether you have to keep the house completely dark and silent, play certain music or sounds, or rock them for hours, parents will go to extremely lengths just to get kids on a sleep schedule. And in return for all of our hard work, years later, they fight with us because they don’t want to wake up. Oh no you don’t, you little turd. I lost too many hours of sleep for you to fight with me, AGAIN!

Walking/Talking: I mean, seriously, how many hours, days, and weeks do we help teach them these primary tasks that as adults seem so basic. The frustrating thing about these, in my opinion, is how they then use them against us. We teach them to walk, they use their abilities to run away from us when they’re in trouble. We teach them words that at the time seem so stinking cute when they first come out of their mouths, that then turn into screams and rude slang as we carry them out of a store, because we wouldn’t buy the $110 toy on a Monday, in the middle of March. Had I known my kids would use this stuff against me, I would have kept them mute and pushed them down every time they tried to walk!

Cleansing/Personal Hygiene: Let’s group a lot into 1 category; Bathing, Brushing teeth, wiping their own butt, using deodorant, for girls eventual shaving and how to use feminine products, just to name a few! These are all things that seem like luxuries to most parents now a days. My kids throw a fit when they have to shower and I’m doing whatever I can to find time in my day just to wash my face! I can remember “brushing my teeth” as a kid and my mom would go in and check if it was wet because she knew I was lying. Now, at 10, 6, 5 and 2, my kids do the same thing. My 5 year old enjoys brushing her teeth, but the rest- you’d think I was telling them to go to war! It takes 2-3 minutes to brush your teeth and it feels so good after, IT’S NOT THAT BAD! And you better believe I will sit on my kid and hold their arms down just to brush their teeth. It’s not fun, but you know what else isn’t? Having to pay for fillings and other dental procedures!

Picking out clothes: Oh, this. I know we should let our kids show their creativity and it’s not that I don’t let them every once in a while, but the least they can do is let me dress them in cute clothes! Cierra, (10) she’s pretty good about wearing what I buy, except we are now at the age that I’m done picking out her outfits for the day. She will be in middle school next year and call me crazy, but I think she should know what matches what. Then there’s Aislyn who has sensory issues and unless it’s a tank top and shorts or a dress, she’s fighting me. Imagine how fun winters are. Hell, I don’t care if they’re even close to matching just put the pants on! So far, the other 2 don’t fight me on clothes- yet, but they better start learning what colors match with what because I draw the line at picking out their clothes when they go to college.

Riding a bike/learning to swim/learning to drive: These are the ones that frustrate me the most. Here you are, trying to be patient and talk them through this “how to” while also being so worried about them getting hurt. I know when my kids fall and scrape a knee or an elbow, they act like they need to go to the nearest ER. And of course, nobody WANTS to see their kids hurt, so you have to ride the fine line of letting them go and making sure you’re there to catch them if they start to fall. And of course, drowning is terrifying, so we either suffer through teaching our kids to swim, which in my case was torture, or pay for swim lessons. And driving- yikes! I don’t have a child old enough to drive yet, but even 6 years out, I’m terrified! Anyone can teach someone to drive, and to not be stupid, but if they make a mistake, that’s usually not just a scrape of the knee. A mistake in a car could cost them their lives or someone else’s. And not to mention, you can’t control other people on the road. Maybe I’ll just put my kids in bubbles when they turn 16. Seems sensible, no?

I’m sure there’s a “Parenting for Dummies” book out there. Maybe we should all read it. Or maybe, we should all go to our parents and apologize for not wanting to do these things when we were younger.

Ok, gotta go. Time to smell my kid’s breath to make sure they actually used toothpaste.