This episode topic comes from a Green Popsicle Stick Group Facebook member. Once again, when I sat down to organize and script this out, I had no idea that I had so many thoughts on the subject. Too funny.
Katie asked, “What skills are you glad you taught your daughter before she went off to college? And, is there anything you wished you’d spent more time on with her?”
These are fantastic questions from Katie, whose daughter is already ahead of the game, as you will hear in this episode.
Take a listen, or read the transcript, below.
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What You Will Learn in this Episode:
Christine’s thoughts on useful life skills needed for college
Laundry: remember the bedding!
Consider limited food options and how your child will handle this
Cleaning and supplies
Future Document Preparations
Memorize Social Security Number
Safe Storage of Documents
Ditch the “Mom Organization Method”
Tools for emotional health
Familiarity with Medical Appointments
Episode Questions for You To Consider
Do you have something to add to my life skills for college list?
If you attended college, did you feel prepared?
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Christine: You are listening to the Your Empty Nest Coach podcast, with Coach Christine, episode number 32: What Life Skills Should My High School Child be Mastering Now, to be Successful in College? … Today’s episode comes from a Green Popsicle Stick Facebook group member. Katie asks, “What skills are you glad you taught your daughter before she went off to college? Is there anything you wished you’d spent more time on with her?” What a fantastic question. Thanks, Katie! Your daughter is well, well ahead of most students in 8th grade, and to be honest, she’s more ahead than many college students in her life skills.
Christine: You are listening to the Your Empty Nest Coach podcast, with Coach Christine, episode number 32: What Life Skills Should My High School Child be Mastering Now, to be Successful in College? This podcast is for you, a mother who years ago walked away from a career to raise your child. Sure, you’ve been busy volunteering, car pools, maybe part-time work and taking care of everyone. But your main gig, that has been your child. Now, that they are in their later years of high school, the empty nest looms ahead for you and it is freaking you out. I’ve been there and I get it. Together, we’ll turn our freaking out energy into freaking awesome energy.
Hello, my future empty nest friend. Happy summer! My goodness, I just looked at a calendar, and when this episode goes live, my daughter will be home for only five or six more weeks of summer. I just don’t get it. Time flies, doesn’t it? A quick reminder that all of my episodes are brought to you by my free seven-day program, “The Empty Nest: A Guide to Uncovering My Future.” To be clear, we are talking about your future, not mine. Hop on over to my website, youremptynestcoach.com, and sign up today. Look for the link that says “Uncover Your Future.”
Today’s episode comes from a Green Popsicle Stick Facebook group member. Katie asks, “I have a question, I’m working on getting my 8th grader more independent. She knows how to do laundry, how to cook, bake and follow a recipe, how to clean and vacuum. The general principles of a healthy lifestyle and various other things. I think next is money stuff, like getting a bank account, a checkbook, balancing a budget, shopping on a budget, she can sew a bit, as well. What other skills are you glad you taught your daughter before she went off to college? Is there anything you wished you’d spent more time on with her?” What a fantastic question. Thanks, Katie! Your daughter is well, well ahead of most students in 8th grade, and to be honest, she’s more ahead than many college students in her life skills.
My listener, Katie lists fantastic skills that her daughter already knows. Let’s start there. I can only speak to our family’s experience, so if you have something to add, join us in our Facebook group to share with us. Katie first mentions laundry. Yes, 100 percent. This is huge. It is something I had barely ever done before my own college years. Along with clothes, mention how often towels and bed sheets should be washed, and get those in the rotation, if they aren’t already. I would venture to guess that many college students only take bedding off their beds around break times. I would be sure those are in the rotation at some point, ahead of time, especially since you have multiple years to prepare.
I also recommend letting the laundry not be perfect. If your child does their laundry and then leaves all their clean clothes on the floor, in a pile, for three days before putting them away, they are clean, and wrinkles aren’t the end of the world. Maybe they’ll wear their wrinkled clothes, receive a comment, and then be better about it in the future, and maybe not, they’ll just stay wrinkled. I’ve gotten really good at picking my battles and laundry isn’t one I care enough about. Just keep that in mind.
Next, Katie mentions cooking, baking and following a recipe. Interestingly enough, I didn’t stress these skills. While I probably should have, here were my two reasons at the time; much of it was that my daughter left a few years early for college, so I couldn’t get everything in and I had to carefully choose the skills that we were going to work on. The other reason is that while on campus, she has a dining hall. She has access to a kitchen, but it isn’t easy to get to.
Cooking definitely is a fantastic life skill, and necessary for sure, but if your child is in a dorm at a residential college, there’s a different skill that is necessary. That would be figuring out how to eat well, in a college, when you don’t have control over the ingredients, the meals and the groceries. This can be daunting. I recommend that once your child knows where they are headed, have them explore all of their options. Maybe have them look at a few days of their eating at home, and see how it lines up with the options at their new school. Then have them figure out their work arounds. I say this because food is so important. A hungry college student isn’t a good thing. A college student who only eats garbage food because the vending machine has better options than the dining hall, in their mind, isn’t going to be on their A-game. It won’t be perfect their first year. Make them aware of that going in. Encourage them to find some go-to healthy snacks that they are able to find anywhere. Encourage them to be creative with food in a limited scenario.
Next up, Katie mentions cleaning and vacuuming. Yes, definitely. Things like using wipes to wipe down door handles when you are sick and someone in the house is, and in the future the dorm is sick. This is a helpful life skill. Maybe even pick up a small vacuum and put them in charge of their spaces in the house now, if they aren’t already. One of the points here, to keep in mind, is that your child may or may not be in more of a shared space than they are used to now. Communication on how that will work is really good practice.
Katie’s daughter can sew a bit. This is fantastic. I would encourage a small sewing kit and a tool kit, now, that is theirs to keep. When something needs fixing in their room, or one of their own personal items is broken, encourage them to use their kits for these things, then they’ll be used to it when college comes. If they are one of the few people in the dorm with a phillips head screwdriver when someone desperately needs one, and they’re used to going to their tool kit, it is a great way to make new friends. If they lose the kit, they have to buy their own replacement, of course.
Money. Let’s talk about money. I am by no means a money expert, so use what resonates with you. I do believe that having our children learn about money management when they are young is unbelievably important. Your child should have their own money to manage now, so they understand its value. My daughter has a debit card for school, and my name is on it, she’s under 18, which is handy because I’m able to transfer funds in if it’s needed. Those last minute school fees that pop up, it’s been super helpful.
Going back in time a bit, when our daughter was about four or five years old, and I’m not exaggerating here, either, we gave her “kid pay.” It was more than most four or five year olds see for sure. But it taught her to save. Some of the money had to go to savings, some to giving, some for education, and some for fun. I think there was another envelope, but it’s escaping me at the moment what that was for. It’s probably obvious. When I listen back, I’ll be like how did I forget. Anyway, I think she ended up with $10 of fun money a month. The beauty was that meltdowns in stores completely disappeared because she learned very quickly that if she didn’t bring her money, she couldn’t purchase an item. Does she want it? Sure. She can absolutely have it. It’s her money, if she has enough money. I would make recommendations to her, but if she wanted to spend all $10 on crayons, that was for her to do. Spend it all in a month, and you have to wait until next month. It only takes a few times of that before you learn your lesson.
The younger your children learn that, the better off they are. Had we not done that earlier in her life, I would right now take the time to calculate all the things that we purchase for her on a monthly basis, toiletries, clothes, educational supplies, lunch money, and I would, with hubby’s support, give it to her monthly in a sum, and tell her she’s responsible for all these things going forward. Want to use some lunch money towards something fun, then you can pack your lunch. Encourage creative money solutions now. Another thing I encourage is being open about things, like your expenses, your rent or mortgage, your insurances, utility bills and your paycheck. So I have to pay every year for my car registration, for the inspection, the upkeep, the gas and the insurance? Wait, how much is that? These are important things for our kids to know, if they don’t already. If they don’t already have their own job, where they see all the impact of the taxes on their paycheck, consider showing them yours. Why not?
Speaking of jobs, if your child doesn’t have one yet, here are things that are helpful to know for their future. How to fill out that I-9 form is one thing. You can find a copy online, show them how they would fill it out if they got a job today, and explain what it all means. Google is your friend here. Not that they’ll remember all of this, when the time comes, but having a baseline, a familiarity, won’t make it so darn scary when they fill the first one out.
If they haven’t already, get them working on memorizing their social security number, or figure out where they’ll store it safely. Take a look at the identification proof needed for the I-9 form. If your child’s heading off on their own, do they have the documents to allow them to prove employment eligibility? Safe storage of these documents is really good to teach now, too. How about that W-4 form? How intimidating is that the first time you need to fill it out? Knowing what the W-4 form is for, is super helpful. Again, just giving them a familiarity with these forms will make life easier.
What else should they have? This one is something they should be learning to not to need, and that’s the Mom Organization Method. Sorry, mom, but that needs to be ditched before they head out on their own, be it college or moving out permanently. Do you wake them up? Are you their alarm? That’s on you, not them. You should tell them it’s their job moving forward. Let them figure out now, how to make it all happen. Do you remind them to do their homework? You won’t be on campus in college, so try to get out of that habit, for both of you.
Do they have a family car that is being used, but you or your partner take it in for maintenance? Next time, have them make the appointment and handle the whole thing. You’re available via text. Do they know when family birthdays are? Figure out now how they’ll know. If they look to you to remind them the week prior, they’re going to be completely lost when they’re at school, and if they forget your birthday, don’t be surprised. Get the idea?
Look, none of us have tomorrow promised to us, either. If you weren’t here tomorrow, can your child function on their own, best they can? If they are 10 or 12, no one expects that, but if they’re nearing 18, they should be pretty darn close. I know, it isn’t a fun thought. I do find it a motivating one. How about you? I adore you, my friend, but that Mom Organization Method needs to fade off into the sunset, before your child leaves for college. This will benefit both of you.
On this note, your child needs to figure out how to manage their school and personal time on their own. Encourage them to try new things if something isn’t working, and don’t expect whatever works for you to work for them. Encourage them to find a way to have a school/life balance. School/life balance leads me to something I feel very strongly about. If you have a child that has hobbies that energize them, if they are lucky enough to have found such a thing, please encourage those hobbies. If they find art calms their mind, also, with loud music, take note of this, out loud, in front of them, and let them know that making time for whatever it is that energizes them, is super important. Why is it important? School/life balance turns into work/life balance. If they only do school work and run into a season of classes where none of them are of interest, then your child’s hobbies have the ability to get them through the drudgery and frustration by giving them a form of escape. Music, art, yoga, running, tech, it will be different for everyone. For the music major, maybe building a website might be a fun hobby. For the science major, maybe they love to read horror fiction. These energy building activities are important. Finding their balance is important, and be sure to notice the moments when they are doing really well with the balance. If they are never taught to make time for these things, they may not in college, and that might cause undue stress. Be sure to set an example here, in your own life.
What if they don’t have hobbies? I certainly wouldn’t force anything on them, but I’d encourage exploration and be open to them having hobbies that you, personally, would never consider. Remember, they are not you. Finally, and really, this should have been the first thing I talked about, but be sure to provide them with great tools for their emotional health. Friendships ending, disappointments, going through emotions, handling depression, a whole bunch of things are going to happen in their life ahead. If they always come to you, they may not know what to do if you aren’t there. Make sure they know it’s okay to be sad. It’s okay to be angry. It is okay to have times when you don’t feel great. Help them to learn tools to get through the emotion, rather than run from it. If you understand my Empty Nest Prep episodes, chat with them about circumstances in their life. Offer to them that they have the ability to choose their thoughts, at the right moment. Encourage them to notice the feelings caused by their thoughts. Doing this for non-major events is better than large events happening to start. What better gift can you give your child?
By the way, if you purchase “The Empty Nest First Steps Towards Success program,” I give access to all of your children for free, the same program. Keep that in mind. Also, give them permission to talk to a therapist when needed. Make sure that’s an okay thing in your family. Especially, when they are in college, and more than likely have one available to them for free. As your child nears heading off to college, take notice when they mention things that might be resources to use on campus. Check out episode 28 for more on that. For example, when it would be a good time to head to the health center versus handling something on their own. One more thing, and I don’t know why this feels like a big stretch to throw out there, but getting them involved with their medical records and appointments now, will create great skills for life. Why not have them call to make their appointments? Is it something you even need to go to? If not, have them handle it themselves, entirely, or if that’s just too much pressure, mom, I get you. I can hear the pushback already. Go along, but encourage them to be in the driver’s seat, even when the receptionist looks right at you. Give your child the opportunity and permission to learn these things while you are here to assist. They should understand what a HIPAA form is. The extreme importance of their insurance card and how all of that works. Maybe they have a sick appointment and need a prescription. Explain how that works with the pharmacy and if/when they might want to look at mail orders. Think through together how they would handle this in college. Now is a great time to walk through these steps, well before an emergency.
This episode ended up being a lot longer than I thought it was going to be. I’ll stop there, but if you have something to add, please share. Join our Green Popsicle Sticks Facebook group, and add it there. If I get enough suggestions, I’ll do a part 2 of this episode. Please don’t hesitate to fly on over to our Facebook Group. Our name is Green Popsicle Sticks. Want to know why? Listen to episode number 17, or head to my website, youremptynestcoach.com/community for link to join our flock. Why should you join our group? The adjustment to not having your kiddos at home full-time isn’t always easy, but it sure can be a ton more fun with a flock of friends. We look forward to seeing you there.
If you are ready to begin the journey to find future you, and use her as your GPS, definitely sign up for my free program, “The Empty Nest: A Guide to Uncovering My Future.” Episode 13 covers the high-level concepts of that program, if you would like to check it out. To dive deep into concepts, take my free program, as I provide videos and worksheets to assist you on your journey. The questions I have for you in this episode are: number one, do you have something to add to my life skills for college list? Number two, if you attended college, did you feel prepared? As always, I provide content to make you think, my empty nest friend. My hope is that I am able to provide you with thoughts that positively impact your life. You’ll find the show notes for this and every episode on my website. My next episode’s title is, “How to Prepare Your Home for the Empty Nest, with my guest, April Force Pardoe.” Don’t forget to subscribe to this podcast. It is free and you’ll be notified when I post a new episode every Friday.
If my show has helped you in any way, please share it with one other person you think it will help too. You’ll be giving them a free gift. Thanks for your time and energy with that, and thanks so much for listening, my empty nest friend. Remember, you are amazing!
You are preparing for the empty nest ahead as your child(ren) prepares, heads off to, and experiences college.