Adulting 101: How Many of These Things Do Your Kids Know How to Do?

Child using colored pencils

By Jackie Nunes of Wonder Moms

Young people are more connected and tech-savvy than ever, but there are a surprising number of things many of them don’t know how to do – and it’s not just writing in cursive or driving a stick shift. Many college students didn’t send in their absentee ballots in the recent election season because they didn’t have a stamp or know where to buy one.

Growing up in a highly automated world has left many young adults scrambling to figure out basic skills once they move out on their own. There is even an “adulting school” now in Maine designed to teach millennials everyday tasks.

Are you teaching your kids the skills they will need to manage once they leave home? Teenagers with intellectual disabilities are often taught “life skills” in special education classes, but what about all of the other students? Here are 10 things everyone should know how to do. If you come across any you or your kids haven’t mastered, we’ve included some links to help you figure it out in a pinch.

1. Fill out a check

While online banking and other financial transactions take place online, the paper check is still alive and kicking. Yet, many people have no clue how to fill one out. Checks are often required for college tuition (some schools add a surcharge for online processing you might want to avoid), to pay rent, or to make a purchase at a small business looking to avoid swipe fees. Here’s a good primer to explain the basics.

2. Change a tire

In an age of simply opening up an app to signal an Uber or Lyft for a ride, changing a tire is something we often don’t think about. Until we get a flat. Usually, it’ll come at an inopportune time – like when you’re on your way to an appointment or on a road trip with no cell signal. You’ll have to either wait hours for a repair truck or do it yourself. Changing a tire is one of those things you hope to never have to deal with, but if you do, you’ll want to know how to fix it in a jiffy. (Alternatively, you can use a portable air compressor to reinflate it.)

3. Sew a button

Sewing a button is one of those basic tasks we usually don’t think will matter — until one pops off. Since home economics is rarely taught in schools anymore, people are more or less left up to their own devices to figure out how to sew it back on. You’ll need, at a minimum, a needle, thread, and some knowhow. There are some pretty basic stitches you can learn to do a simple sewing job.

4. Understand a lease

Renting an apartment can be a confusing process. Today’s agreements are full of legalese to protect both tenant and landlord. You want to understand the terms and what they mean before you sign your name on the dotted line. Terms you should pay attention to include lease information, length of the lease, rent details, deposits, fees, and apartment regulations, including if you can paint on or put nails in the walls. To learn about this and more, this is a good guide that’ll bring you up to speed.

5. Brew a pot of coffee

While heading over to Starbucks or your other favorite coffee shop is convenient, it does get costly. Knowing how to brew your own is a good skill for anyone to possess (especially if you think you might have people coming to visit you after you sign that aforementioned lease!). Get yourself a nice coffee maker and learn the fundamentals—you’ll be a pro in no time.

6. Write a thank you letter

Writing a thank you letter to your grandma might sound outdated but it’s still an important skill to have in both your personal and professional lives.  CareerBuilder reports last year 37 percent of employers said fewer than half of college grads followed up with a thank you note after the interview. Statistics consistently suggest this one factor can be a deal breaker for employers when they make their final hiring decision. Need to know how to write one? Here you go.

7. Perform CPR

Knowing how to perform CPR is something everyone should learn because it literally is a lifesaver, yet about half of all Americans do not have this important skill. The good news is you can get certified easily. Armed with this knowledge, you can save a life in the event someone goes into cardiac arrest.

8. Navigate tight parking

Parallel parking and navigating tight parking are two of the maneuvers many drivers have trouble doing. Yet, it’s a basic skill all drivers should have mastered because it not only makes for better convenience when trying to park in busy cities, at malls or even in your own garage, it’s needed for safety too. Understanding the ins and outs of tight parking can prevent injury to a person or damage to a car.

9. Make a hard boiled egg

Eggs are a great source of protein and are so easy to make. When boiling an egg though, you want to get it right. If you undercook it, you crack it only to find slimy insides you don’t want to eat; overcooking it makes the yolk taste dry and rubbery. Everyone should learn how to make the perfect hard boiled egg. Plus, sometimes you might want a soft or medium yolk, either way, these steps will help you make any kind of boiled egg you want. (Tip: For the hard boiled eggs, when you cover after turning off the heat, be sure not to miss this step, it’ll make your eggs far easier to peel!)

10. Unclog a drain

If you’ve ever experienced a clogged drain, you know how disgusting it can get. Your first instinct might be to call a plumber, but that’s going to cost you big bucks. Besides, experts say up to 95 percent of clogs can be cleared yourself. So, add this skill to your toolbox and learn how to fix your own drains.

Today’s young adults can do many amazing things that would have been inconceivable a few decades ago, but it’s clear that some basic life skills have gotten lost in the shuffle. If you can help your children master the tasks above, you’ll be sparing them (and yourself) a lot of time, hassle, and money.

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