Inside: If you’re hoping your kids will live with you forever, don’t read this.
In the old days, children were given a suitcase for their 18th birthday.
That’s right. “When you graduate, be ready to hit the road, Jack!”
Take my dad.
- He moved out when he was 17, ate out of garbage cans, bought clothes at the goodwill, and barely survived his early adult years. But, he was on his own.
- Sure, he also bought plates at the good will for 5-cents so he could throw them down the trash chute rather than wash them. But he was on his own.
- Most kids go door to door on Halloween “trick-or-treating” for candy. Not Dad. He went “trick or treating” for furniture. That’s right. On Halloween, he went door to door, asking for furniture instead of candy. But he was on his own. (And he decorated his apartment for free.)
- Laundry was only done when every stitch of clothing was dirty. Then he’d put on his “holey pants and a t-shirt” and drag all his laundry to the laundromat. But he was on his own.
- One day, he put every stitch of clothing he owned in the machines at the laundromat and went across the street to eat lunch. You guessed it. It was all stolen. But he was on his own.
Things are different now.
While you never want your kids to eat out of a garbage can, throw away perfectly good plates, or stock-pile dirty laundry until they need a dumptruck to move it, you don’t want them living with you forever either.
Your kids need to grow up, spread their wings, and fly.
Preferably before their 24th birthday.
Preferably with some life-skills.
Preferably debt free.
Heads up: Research shows that 26% of millennials plan to move back with mom and dad after they graduate from college to pay off debt. I have 5 kids. That means at least one of them may want to move back home after college to pay off their debt. (Eek!)
Nope. Sorry, kids.
We’d rather teach you to work your butts off now so you don’t have to be in debt later. (And I don’t have to smell your dirty laundry).
Work hard, get a job, learn to balance a budget, take college courses while in high school, apply for a bazillion college scholarships, skip Starbucks, earn an online bachelor’s degree, and work your way through school.
5 Ways to Make Sure Your Kids Actually Move Out Someday
1. Give them daily chores.
Kids need to know they’re an important part of the team and that the sun and stars don’t revolve around them. While kids are tremendous blessings, they shouldn’t be treated like royalty. Teaching kids basic household chores builds self-esteem, independence, and responsibility.
How young should you start teaching them to clean up? “If they can take it out, they can put it back”.
2. Take away smart devices and hand them flip phones.
Yes, your daughter needs a phone so she can call you when she is done with karate early. Sure, your son will need to let you know he is safe after that earthquake. But a smartphone? Nope. They don’t need that.
Smartphones suck away free time and creative energy. Kids need that energy to learn life skills and to be prepared for life. Let them buy their first smartphone as a house warming present to themself.
A good solution is to give them a flip phone. Yes, they still sell them.
3. Teach them to cook.
No, you are not destined to be chained to your kitchen, forever serving growing kids 24 hours a day. Unless of course, you never let them, never ask them, never make them help you in the kitchen.
If your kids are little, they are still begging to “help you”. Let them.
Even though it means more work for you now. Let them!
Every single time. Let them help.
Older kids need to be asked, or required (Yes!), to help in the kitchen. Make them.
- Teach them to cook.
- Assign them a weeknight meal to prepare.
- Teach them to find a recipe, make a list, shop, prepare, and serve a meal.
I had a “simple foot surgery” last year that was supposed to keep me off my feet for a few weeks.
Lucky me! Due to complications, it was six months. My boys did everything while I was down. They cleaned, they shopped, they even cooked. My husband even created “
My boys did everything while I was down. They cleaned, they shopped, they cooked. My husband even created “Cooking Camp” and assigned jobs of executive chef, assistant chef, and prep-cook. It was amazing!
Don’t wait for life to knock you off your feet before teaching your sons and daughters how to cook.
4. Limit screen time.
For the love of all things good and holy, limit screen time. Please.
Better yet, send them outside and lock the door. I say things like, “Any kid not outside in three minutes are my household cleaning slaves for the next three hours.” Trust me, my boys clear the building. (Ha!)
Can we agree that “too much screen time, is in fact TOO MUCH?”
We don’t need to agree on the number of seconds, minutes, or hours that are healthy for our kids. We just need to be the ones to establish that boundary for our own children.
Your kids, my kids, our kids need to learn that people are more important than the screen they are staring at.
- I saw a group of teenagers at a restaurant all gussied up for prom. There were 5 couples and not one of them was talking. They were all staring at their cell phones. Really?
- I watched a young girl, about 14, walk up to the movie theater, buy a movie ticket, get in line for popcorn and then go sit down without ever looking away from her phone.
- I kicked all 4 of my younger sons outside this week because I walked into the house and found them all huddled around a phone screen in the dark playing a “really great game”. It was the first sunny day in 47 years and they were huddled around a screen in the dark. It was hours before I let them back inside. Hours. I am currently constructing the technology rule for our summer. So far, all I have is, “Though shalt not use technology during daylight hours.”
It’s a fact that those smartphones are addicting.
Addictions make kids waste time. Wasting time means they might not be prepared to move out. If they don’t move out, you’ll have to smell their dirty laundry.
Limit screen time!
Related: Smartphone addiction test.
5. Teach them to do yard work, house work, and basic auto work.
We recently moved into a new home in a “real Neighborhood”. I am not kidding. The local middle school marching band even marches by our house at least once a week. As a former band geek, I am in heaven.
My boys look at the neighborhood differently.
Every time we drive down the street they look at the overgrown yards and say, “Cha-Ching!”
All five of the boys are wonderful yard helpers. They cut, they mow, they trim, they weed, they can even help roof, dig trenches, and fix dilapidated wheelbarrows. Teach your kids to be handy helpers in and around the house. They can earn a boatload of money if they are diligent, hardworking and dependable.
These types of skills give them an edge when they move out. They need to know they can earn a few extra dollars by keeping their eyes open for opportunities like cutting lawns. These few extra bucks can help them pay their bills and support themselves.