During the school year I am laser focused on just keeping everyone alive. With three boys 16, 14 and 12 that task is less complicated than it used to be. Still, with our hectic schedule at three different schools, it is easier and faster to do everything myself. But if I'm being honest, most of my responsibilities revolve around food.
When summer comes, I shift gears. I design our break to spend less time in the car; encouraging bike riding and walking to camp, pools and jobs. We are lucky that we live in a neighborhood that has all of these opportunities a short distance away. My sons don't even have to cross a main road to get to their summer jobs.
As I am planning, I devise a list of basic skills that each boy must learn over the summer. They are age appropriate and build on what they already know. I have found that I'm more patient and the kids are more receptive when the pace of the day is slower.
Life skills boot camp begins at the age of 10. At that time, they learn to use the microwave and blender to make and reheat food. I show them how to pre-treat a stain before washing clothing and pack a cooler. Yes, they will thank me in college.
Each year, we tackle something new after they have had a year of practicing at least some of the things they learned the summer before.
For instance, now my oldest is learning how to write and endorse a check as well as record it in a check book. My middle son will buy groceries through the self-checkout and pay with a credit card and my youngest is learning to cook simple meals on the stove without burning down the house.
The boys have had household chores for years and those don't change. They are never too young to clean up their own mess. As their mess expands, so does the chore list and accompanying nagging from me.
The skills they learn during the summer are not things they may need every day but they will help them as they move away from me and into the world. My hope is that I am giving them the confidence to not just survive but to thrive.
Summer Life-Skill Boot Camp:Sample List
10 and 11-year olds
Microwave and blender use
Running dishwasher and garbage disposal (check for random spoons before turning on)
How to change the bag on the vac
12-14 year olds
Cooking simple meals on the stove
Using cash and credit card at self-checkout
How to separate laundry, wash, and what gets hung to dry and what goes in dryer
15-17 year olds
How to pump gas
How to endorse and deposit a check
Social Security number memorization for college apps
Changing a flat