Ten Things your Teen Should Know before Leaving Home

You know how there are those moments in your life you will never forget? The moments where you know that you will remember how you felt, where you were, and what song was on the radio? Sometimes they are special days – like weddings, or births. Other times, they happen on just a plain old ordinary Tuesday. It was just one of these moments that I was inspired to create my list of Ten Things your Teen Should Know before Leaving Home.

I was sorting teen laundry (now that our oldest is home from university, he is taking advantage again of the prime “MOM” laundry service offered at our residence) and I started thinking about how quickly our kids were growing up. Not just in a “get through school and move on” kind of way, but in a REAL, “becoming a functional adult” kind of way. We already have one that is away at school, our middle child graduates this year, and our daughter is a mere three years behind that.

OH MY GOSH… First came the tears, then I started sweating and feeling super anxious – and not just in a peri-menopausal way either (although, I’m sure that had a little to do with it). My cold sweat was really less about the fact that they are growing up and would soon be leaving us, and more because I panicked thinking there are so many things I still need to teach them… It was at that moment that I started making a list (yes – a list, because that is what I do and because it needed to be done RIGHT at that moment) of all the things I want to make sure they learn this summer.

You might be thinking – what about your oldest that already ventured into living on his own this past year? I think because he was living in residence for his first year of school, I didn’t even consider him being on his own. But now?? He is heading into his own apartment in the fall. He will have to clean his own bathroom, make meals, wash floors, perhaps even do some lawn maintenance… These teens need lessons in ADULTING and FAST!

OH, MY GOSH – time to get started. So here is my list of the top 10 things you should teach your teen before they leave home.

1. Clean a good Toilet (and all the other surfaces in the bathroom too!)

No one likes a dirty bathroom kids. This summer I’m teaching a class in Bathroom Cleaning 101. I just can’t wait to herd three teens into a small bathroom and give them the lowdown on cleaning supplies, to always finish with the toilet, and that wiping down the shower each time (ya, right) leads to less work in the long run. Keeping their attention long enough to teach the lesson will be miracle enough, but if they actually retain anything – their future husbands or wives will love me too.

2. Laundry Matters

These are the basics the kids have known for awhile – – > Sort, wash (when in doubt always use cold), dry (when in doubt always use ultra low heat). This summer, I’m kicking it up a notch. We are going to learn to iron a shirt, how to wash delicates, stain removal 101, washing sweaters and even get that steamer working!

ps. I’m getting them in the habit of washing their linens and towels themselves once a week this summer – big goals Christine…big goals.

3. Let’s get Groceries

Of course our kids have accompanied me to the grocery store many times when they were little, but as they grew older this tended to be a chore I saved for when they were in school. This summer though, I am taking them on a tour of the grocery store. We are going to talk prices, picking produce, in season purchasing, expiry and best before dates, and the best things to buy when you are on a budget (ie. grate your own cheese, you can’t afford the pre-grated stuff kid!)

4. Cooking Basics

This is one that I feel that I am already well on my way with. I have to say Hello Fresh is helping me out a great deal with this because their step by step instructions, and child like simplicity to their recipes makes cooking with teens pretty darn enjoyable. In fact, just the other night I came home to dinner 90% complete, the table set AND even the prep dishes done and put away. Score 1 for mama!!

I am going to further instruct the making of omelettes, a good spaghetti sauce, baked chicken fingers, homemade fries, baked potatoes, rice and a few tried and true recipes so they really have a handle on cooking without our favorite meal prep service!!

5. Good Roommate Etiquette

For my oldest, who will be living with a few roommates this coming school year, but really just common sense and good things to think about when you share a space with anyone at anytime in your life!

  1. Don’t leave your wet towels on the floor in the bathroom, and always use a bathmat
  2. Replace the toilet paper when you use the last of it (more on this later)
  3. Let someone know where you are and when you will be home.
  4. Don’t leave your dirty dishes lying around – that’s plain disgusting
  5. If you have a microwave explosion, CLEAN IT
  6. Do – leave a light on when you go to bed and your roommate is expected home later – who wants to come in to a dark house.
  7. Don’t take the last of the coffee in the pot unless you plan to make more
  8. I would love to say “make your bed” but I fear this is a lost cause, so I’m not even going to bother 🙂
  9. Don’t eat someone else’s food in the fridge
  10. Be respectful of each others schedules. Don’t have a Fortnight party the night before your roommates economics exam

6. Change a Tire

Dad – you gotta take this one. If I had a flat tire, the only thing I would know how to do is to either call my husband or my dad. Not proud of it but TRUTH. Time for all three to get their hands dirty (and maybe I will learn something too!)

7. Clean the Kitchen

I mean REALLY clean the kitchen. I’m not bold enough to tell them that after every meal they need to follow these steps. I’m just hoping in a pinch they will know that putting dishes in the dishwasher is a START, but please wipe down all counters, the inside of the microwave, the fridge handle, the stove with some sort of disinfecting spray or at the very least soap and water. AND if you use a cutting board and meat – disinfect that, or live with the possibility of an e-coli outbreak.

8. Money, money, money

One of the most important things I am going to teach the kids this summer is about money. When I got my first summer job, and did the resulting tax return, I was encouraged to max out my RRSP. At the time, it was probably less than $500 but it was something. Since then, I have never NOT maxed out on an RRSP. This summer all of our children will have full time jobs. This summer they will all create a budget for spending money, and then the remaining money will go into savings. This summer they will learn to put money away, and this summer they will learn about RRSP’s and TFSA’s. If you want more info on talking to your kids about money and taxes, check out Danni’s blog post from a few months back HERE

9. The Debt Debacle

Having a credit card sounds like SO MUCH FUN! Oh, and it IS, until you look at that lovely little line on your statement that tells you how long it is going to take to pay off this FUN if you continue to make the minimum payments.

While they currently don’t have access to a credit card – other than mine at certain necessary times, this summer, I am going to do the fun exercise of showing my kids just how much a $100 splurge pair of pants will cost them if they do it on credit and pay the minimum payment each month OR, how much that night at the bar really will cost them. I fully expect they will be stunned. This is an exercise in reality and also not something they think about too much at this age. But no time like the present, right?

10. Toilet Paper Trials

Yes – I know I touched on it briefly in Point 5. But seriously, can we harp on this enough? I am pretty sure there isn’t a middle aged woman in the world who hasn’t sat down on the toilet in their family home and been left with either 1 lonely scrap of TP or a completely empty roll. I have tried to combat this problem by putting toilet paper holders (holds up to 6 rolls) next to each toilet in the house. Weekly, I go around and fill these – but can I tell you how many times I have found the actual roll empty while doing this? Let’s recap – 6 rolls within arms length of you. Empty roll. CHANGE THE FREAKIN’ ROLL. And don’t you dare set it on top of the holder – oh no you don’t…

This summer I am considering fines for the above noted offences.

Let’s make it REAL

So now that we have come to the end of the list of Ten Things your teen should know before leaving home, I’m sure you have your own list of things you would like to add. But here’s the thing. While we know that teaching them these things does not ensure that they will engage in them anytime soon, we just have to do it. As mom of teens, our job is to get them ready for the real world in the best way possible. Just like we try and teach them respect, consideration for others, empathy and truth, we need to get in there with the practical things too.

I am hoping that they will take these things in, that they absorb them in some way and when they are adulting truly on their own (I’m sure much quicker than I expect) they will do it well, with confidence and with their own special flair 🙂

Now – doesn’t it sound like I have a fun summer planned??!!



5 thoughts on “Ten Things your Teen Should Know before Leaving Home

  1. I think you forgot the most important thing… as someone who lost her sister to being hit by a drunk driver after partying in college. … I think you forgot to say that some of the most important things you’ll teach them have nothing to do with clean bathrooms or ironing a shirt…
    I think as high achievers we often get caught up in the little things like making sure they are using bpa free water bottles, non processed food, and class rank… And sometimes the most important things fall to the side 1) make sure your teen knows you love them and you won’t judge them for their mistakes 2) teach them about safe alcohol and drug use, so the first time they experiment isn’t with college friends 3) teach them healthy ways to cope with stress. Make sure your teen knows this- even if you already think they do, even if you have a good relationship with them. My sister was a star student and athlete, never had a boyfriend in high school, volunteered with special needs kids, never acted out… a “good girl”, we came from a “good family” and then in college she used drinking to cope with all the pressure she was under and got herself in a bad situation… you think it will never happen to your kid, until it happens to you :/


    1. I totally agree with all of these things. When my kids started High School – this was the first talk we had and continues to be to this day. Thanks for reaching out and I am so sorry to hear about your loss.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s