Parenting requires a lot. In addition to actually keeping your child alive, you also have to ensure that they have an enriching, well-rounded life filled with opportunities to learn and grow. But between the museum trips and playdates, the DIY projects and extracurricular activities, it can be difficult to remember to teach your child practical home management skills that they’ll need later in life.
There’s a lot that goes into managing a household and a lot of it isn’t taught in school. Beyond basic budgeting or checkbook balancing, there are general repairs, safety skills and lifestyle habits that are best taught when children are young, so they’re better prepared and independent, no matter what age they leave the nest.
Make sure your child is prepared for whatever life throws at them during adulthood, with these 17 home management and life skills to teach your kids.
1. Basic First Aid
Every household needs a basic first aid kit, but even if you buy that kit for your child when they go off to live on their own for the first time, in a college apartment or dorm, it really doesn’t help if they don’t know how to use it.
Teaching kids basic first aid is a pretty easy task and one that you can do with few resources. After all, there are tons of books, online videos, and other instructional materials that focus on first aid that are available to families for free.
Your child will probably learn basic first aid in one of their health classes in elementary school, but don’t wait for that course to come up to ensure they’re prepared for whatever cuts, scrapes, bruises or stings they or their future family members encounter.
2. Time Management
This is a big one. Time management is a very important life skill and one that many adults are still learning. But, time management goes hand in hand with responsibility, and it’s one of those life skills that children are better off learning sooner rather than later. (After all, you don’t want to end up with a child so coddled that you have to manage their college schedule for them, do you?)
How can you go about teaching your child time management from an early age?
Buy them a planner (and make sure they use it). Teach them to wake themselves up and get ready for school, versus you hounding them to do every single step necessary for them to get out the door.
Most of us will have a math class or two in high school that covers basic budgeting, but a few hours spent on balancing a checkbook won’t make a smart consumer.
You can teach your child how to budget from an early age by giving them an allowance and asking them to do some set chores each week in order to earn it. Then, have them budget their money, saving up for the more expensive toys or experiences they want, and allocating smaller chunks of money for more affordable things they might want to enjoy on a more regular basis, like going to the movies.
Sarah Miller, former teacher, mom of two and Blogger at Homeschooling 4 Him, adds, “Money skills are also very important to teach kids, and often overlooked. Kids will need to know how to read a bank statement and balance a checking account. Kids should also learn good saving and giving habits.”
4. Stocking a Pantry
A new house doesn’t come with a stocked pantry!
Teach your child what they need to have on hand to make some quick and easy (and affordable) meals. They’ll thank you when they’re actually enjoying home-cooked food during college and not living off cereal and ramen noodles like their peers.
This is also an opportunity to take your child grocery shopping and show them where to find things, how to compare products and how to buy what they actually need, not just whatever looks good on the shelf. If you plan a meal plan for your family, involve your child in that process, too, so they can see the work that goes into it.
5. Basic Cooking
Along these lines, teaching kids basic cooking will reap benefits both now and later in life, as they can start helping out in the kitchen and when it comes to feeding the family, depending on their age.
Even toddlers can help with the simplest cooking tasks, like mixing, stirring and measuring baking ingredients.
You’ll be amazed at how quickly kids can pick up cooking, and how good they can get at it, even if you just start them out with the simplest dishes, like scrambled eggs or a bowl of pasta. A major bonus is when they can help the family with meal planning!
Marielle Melling, from Lovin Life with Littles, shares how her three kiddos help out around the house.
“One way to teach all three is to regularly have kids help with (or be in charge of when they get old enough) full meals. Kids can help plan the menu (learning about healthy choices and budget concerns), shop for the meal (reinforcing cash management), cook the meal, and clean up after the meal,” Melling shares.
More and more, home management skills include choices and tasks that impact not only your household, but your larger community. Teach your children to care for their neighborhood and their world by recycling properly.
How do they sort the recycling? Does your household have a recycling pick-up service, or do you have to take your recycled goods to a center? What about items that are more difficult to recycle or dispose of, like car oil or batteries — where do those go?
These are all important things to know.
7. Basic Gardening
There’s no need to plow a plot in the backyard to teach your child basic gardening skills. Introduce them to gardening tools and practices when you’re planting some flowers in the spring, or repotting an indoor plant.
You can even give them their own potted plant to care for, something easy like a succulent or cactus. The experience will teach them responsibility and may just inspire a life-long love of plants and gardening.
Teaching kids to do their own laundry means less laundry work for you now, and one more basic life skill that they can add to their growing collection.
Sorting by colors and fabrics, measuring out the detergent, moving items from the washer to the dryer, picking the correct appliance settings — these are all relatively easy and tasks that even the youngest kids can learn. If your child is older, they can also iron and steam their clothing as needed.
Clothing repair is also an important life skill, such as sewing on a button and removing stains.
Barbara Nevers, Founder and CEO of NeoLittle, shares some insight into why having kids help with laundry is important.
“Let them watch you while you do your laundry and let them help in any way they can, for instance, for smaller kids, you could just let them help you load and unload clothes from the washing machine or help you with folding the clothes. This would teach them how to be independent and responsible,” Nevers shares.
Sure, your kid knows how to sweep and dust, but what about those trickier parts of cleaning that are necessary home management skills?
Do they know how to get stains out of the carpet (without ruining said carpet)? Do they know how to clean hardwood floors? What about the shower? Do they know which cleaning products they should never mix under any circumstances?
Get your kids involved with cleaning the house, even if it requires the task to take a little bit longer than it would if you just did it yourself. You never know when they’ll need to clean an air vent or an oven in the future.
10. Emergency Situations
Everyone is taught to dial 911 in an emergency… but then what? What do you do if there’s an intruder and you’re waiting for the police to arrive? What do you do in a fire other than stop, drop and roll? What are the best precautions to take during an emergency weather situation, like a tornado or hurricane?
Don’t brush over teaching kids what to do in emergency situations just because you assume that they’ll learn those life skills in school, and don’t oversimplify it down to just “call 911.”
While we don’t want to think that our child will ever be alone in these types of situations, they very well could be at some point, either in their childhood or later in life, and you want them to be fully prepared in every way possible, regardless of the scenario and how it plays out.
The more organized you are, the better chance you have at succeeding, no matter what the task.
Organization comes naturally to some, but others have to work a little harder to stay on track. Whether or not you yourself are organized, it’s a skill you want to try to inspire in your child (and you might even pick up some handy organizational skills for yourself in the process).
Checklists of chores or a printable chore chart, a dedicated place for everything in their bedroom, set daily routines — these can all help show a child that when they’re organized, things get done faster and are often easier.
Lucy Reyes, Owner of Cheers to Life Blogging, adds more insight into how her son helps with chores. “My son is 7 and takes care of sweeping the floors, cleaning up after his mess, wiping the table and counters and quite a few more. This is completed over the course of a week so different chores per day. Listening to music while cleaning helps him not complain about it,” Lucy shares.
Related: The Beginners Guide To Homeschooling
12. Basic Car Care
While your child probably doesn’t necessarily need to know how to make major car repairs, you do want them to be equipped to take care of the basics.
How do they change a flat tire? How do they pump gas? How do they fill their tires with air? How do they read all of the little symbols and gauges on the dashboard?
Even if you don’t teach them basic maintenance like changing the oil, you can at least teach them how to know when the oil needs changing, and what the consequences are if they go too long without changing their oil.
13. Basic Household Repairs
Similarly, your child probably doesn’t need to know how to make major home repairs, and those types of jobs can be left to the pros, but it is handy to know how to fix the small stuff — whether they need these types of home management skills to keep their home actually running, or just to make aesthetic changes.
Show them how to use a hammer, drill, nails and screws to hang decor. Involve them the next time you need to put together a piece of furniture. The next time you need to paint something, ask them to help. Show them how to clean the gutters.
Nicole Garcia, CMO of Most Craft, adds, “Learning how to do simple repairs will develop independence, patience, and confidence to your child. In the long run, this will eventually save your child money when encountering something that needs fixing.”
Related: How to Clean a Dirty Dishwasher
14. Lawn Care
Many teens are tasked with mowing the lawn at some point, but beyond simply driving the mower around in a circle, does your child actually know about lawn care?
Can they fill the lawnmower with gas or repair it when needed? Do they know how to remove weeds and trim hedges or around walls? Do they know what will kill the grass and how to keep a lawn tidy, green and dandelion-free?
15. Household Paperwork
Home management also includes a good deal of paperwork. Whichever family member typically handles the household shuffle of mail, important documents, bills, taxes, etc., should share their processes with the kids. They might even be surprised at how many important documents they’ll need to file away once they start managing their own home.
16. The People Component
Unless your child is living alone, they’ll need to learn how to manage the people component of a household, too. Each family member has their own schedule, needs and responsibilities. Each family member is a moving part in a machine that must work smoothly in order for everyone to be happy, healthy and successful. To ensure this happens, a certain amount of people management is required, whether one individual in a household doing this or parents team up to tackle the responsibility.
Show your child how you or another family member works to keep everyone’s schedules running and to ensure everyone has what they need to succeed (and how organizational skills play a role in it all!).
17. Mental Health
But on top of learning all of these life skills and time management and organization, it’s vital to teach your kids the value of mental health as well.
No spotless house or perfectly organized schedule is worth it if it means one’s mental health suffers. Sure, mental health often does improve when we’re in a cleaner, happier environment, but striving for perfection can often have the opposite effect.
Teaching Kids Home Management Skills and Life Skills is a Worthy Endeavor
Teaching your child these types of skills will better equip them for adulthood, and also make it easier for them to help out around the house now. It does take a little more effort than just doing something yourself, but it’s definitely not effort wasted, and your child will thank you in the future.
From 4 year-olds to high schoolers, these essential life skills will help them with their home life and prepare them for real-life experiences. Basic sewing and ironing skills might seem silly to teach children at a young age, but if they go off to college and don't know how to use a washing machine, they might come home with a month full of dirty laundry!
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17 Essential Home Management Skills for children:
- Basic First Aid
- Time Management
- Stocking a Pantry
- Basic Cooking
- Basic Gardening
- Emergency Situations
- Basic Car Care
- Basic Household Repairs
- Lawn Care
- Household Paperwork
- The People Component
- Mental Health