Life Skills Every Kid Should Know: A New Risky Kids Series

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Life skills every kid should know via The Risky Kids

Shortly after starting The Risky Kids, contributor Lisa and I met up in Louisville for a Risky Summit. In all actuality, it was just a cover for us to hang out for a couple of days under the guise of “official blog business.” To  keep it honest, we did have an actual meeting where we discussed our vision for The Risky Kids. So what if that meeting just happened to be in a bar, over drinks? Still counts.

One of our ideas was to have a series of posts detailing life skills we thought every kid should know before leaving home.  It’s a topic that’s near and dear to my heart, because it’s one I personally struggle with. Maybe you can relate. As a stay-at-home mom for many years, the bulk of the household tasks have fallen on me. I felt as if things such as laundry, cleaning, planning and cooking meals were my job. And to be honest, I actually enjoy these domestic tasks. Even more so, now that both kids are in school, I enjoy doing them alone and in peace! And so while I knew my kids were old enough to fold laundry, clean bathrooms, and help with meal prep, I often did this things while they were in school. It was just easier.

This past year, though, life has changed a bit. I work around 15 hours a week outside the home. In addition, I’ve been focusing on blogging as a business and doing some freelance writing as well. Not only are my hours in which I can dedicate time to these tasks diminished, I’m also realizing that my kids are getting older. Not only are they more than capable of taking of tasks on their own, they need to learn these things before they leave home. Otherwise I’ve done them a grave disservice as a their parent. Beyond household tasks, there are many other valuable life skills they’ll need to learn before they strike out on their own.

I realize it’s time to bring this series to life. As with many of the things I write about on The Risky Kids, it keeps me honest. It forces me to walk the talk, if you will! And in following along, I hope it will help and inspire you. Here’s a list of topics I’ve come up with so far, in no particular order. If you think of anything that’s missing from the list, please share it in the comments. This is by no means a finite list – I’d love to see it grow and become a valuable resource to parents who want to raise competent, confident adults who can function in society.

Life Skills Every Kid Should Know:

  • Manage their money
  • Basic car maintenance
  • How to change a bike tire
  • How to mow the lawn
  • Meal planning and preparation
  • Baking
  • How to build a fire
  • How to do laundry
  • Basic household cleaning
  • Phone etiquette
  • How to use basic tools
  • Simple mending.
  • How to handle basic household problems (shovel, replace lightbulbs, check the circuit breaker, turn off the water)
  • Basic knot skills
  • Manage time

What do you think? Anything else you would add? Do you feel like your kids are pretty proficient in most of these things already? I’ll get the first post in the series, on managing money, up soon. In the meantime, I look forward to hearing from you!




  1. How to wash dishes and how to clean the bathroom. Two things that I thought were intuitive but apparently aren’t. I mean, sure, you have “basic household cleaning” and that covers them both, but I was surprised at how specific instructions have to be for success in these arenas. Also, guidance to dust before vacuuming.

    How to iron pants and a dress shirt, too.

    • Yes, I’m thinking the household cleaning category will have to be divided further. We’ve been working with Elena on washing dishes and loading the dishwasher and it’s definitely not intuitive. In the beginning we had to have her come back and do several dishes over because she was basically just rinsing them off with hot water and calling it a day!

      • I came back to add “load the dishwasher” but I see you already intuited that. Also, plunge a toilet!

        Maybe a related list of the basic tools to have in the house for simple DIY tasks, too, in addition to their use.

        • Plunge a toilet, yes! (Though I’m guessing no one wants to see photos of that on a blog.) The list of tools is a great idea, too.

  2. It is somewhat covered, but making appointments for themselves (like doctors)
    sew a button and a seam (I should have practiced these more)
    interview skills

    • Taxes – how timely! Your suggestions, along with other readers’ suggestions, have opened my eyes to how much there is to learn before you leave the nest. And I’m realizing how important it is to be open and communicate with our kids when we’re doing things we’ll eventually want them to learn how to do. For example, at my kids’ ages (and many of the readers here), they’re not expected to do their own taxes or interview yet. However, as we’re doing OUR taxes, we can include them briefly. We can pull them aside and explain what we’re working on, why we do it, when they can expect to do it themselves. And at least then we’ve planted the seed in their mind that this task will someday be their responsibility, as opposed to just waking up as an adult one day and thinking, “Huh. Who is responsible for doing my taxes?” Thanks for reading, Brooke!

  3. I’d add how to plan and throw a party or open house, how to pot a plant and keep it alive, and I’d add how to store produce to the meal prep part.

    There are important soft skills too, like how to end a friendship or relationship appropriately, how to be assertive and respectful with authority, or how to include someone in a conversation.

    • I wanted to add soft skills too but I couldn’t think of specific ones. This is a good list, Kathy.

    • Great suggestions, Kathy! Now, can you come teach me how to pot a plant and keep it alive?

    • I’d add how to be a gracious guest (house, dinner, etc) to the list of soft skills. That’s one that is sorely undertaught but pays dividends the sooner in life one gets it right.

  4. I can totally relate to wanting to do stuff by yourself because it’s easier, but you’re so right that we’re doing our kids a disservice by not involving them. I think there will be a huge need for training in phone etiquette, since the younger generations are so used to texting rather than talking to other people over the phone. I don’t have anything in particular to add, except that taking care of a pet is also a great way to learn responsibility. I’m looking forward to the series!


  1. […] March I announced that we’d be starting a new series on The Risky Kids: Life Skills Every Kid Should Know. The response was wonderful – it turns out you agree that there are many things kids need to […]