We have seven kids. Some people think we are crazy, but we love our kids (even when they do drive us crazy). Lately I have been thinking about how fast the time goes by and how quickly our kids are growing up. Our oldest is about to turn 16 and he is a Junior in High School. Every day junk mail from colleges comes to both his email and to our physical mail box. My children growing up snuck up on me and I found myself unprepared for it.
Realizing that in just two years our oldest will be an adult, and that he will graduate just a few months after he turns 17 has made me really want to focus on making sure our kids have the life skills they will need to go out into the wide world and thrive. I am a protective parent, and my kids have led pretty sheltered lives which I wouldn't change, but I am also aware that they need a lot of skills to be successful in life. That is our new focus in parenting right now.
For a long time we have had a basic chore system for our kids that they use to earn their time on the computer and such. We are currently in the process of tweaking our system so that they are earning their rewards more like a paycheck. In the past we assigned each of them a day of the week for their computer time and they earned time according to how well they did their chores. Now, instead of it just being based on chores, they will also earn points or bucks based on developing good habits and life skills. They will get "paid" every two weeks and can spend their earnings on computer or wii time, TV time, extra snacks, and other things they want. They will learn how to budget, how to plan ahead and save up and they will also learn about responsibility. If they choose to spend all their earnings playing video games right away, they will have to wait until their next pay day. Our 12 year old even asked if they could earn interest if they saved their earnings which surprised me since he is the one I think is most likely to just spend all of his earnings at once.
Other things we would like to implement as far as life skills go are cooking skills, meal planning, time and money management and independence. Our three older boys will be learning about bus routes and taking the bus places. Each of the kids will get a turn to plan their own menu for a week, given a set amount of money to spend and then they will have to buy the food and live on their planned menu. We will also be trying to help them learn better interpersonal skills and to overcome some of their shyness.
What do you think are the most important life skills to have? I'd love it if you shared your input in the comments section.