Have I taught them enough?

My oldest two are moving out of the family home within three weeks of each other to pursue their studies out in the country. I’m very excited for them as they embark on the next part of their lives. But there is a part of me worries about whether I have taught them everything they need to be out in the world on their own.

Photo: Stocksy

When I decided to move out of home, my parents loaded me with guilt about leaving (I was the last to leave home, and the only one to leave before getting married). Mum yelled-cried at me that I wasn’t ready to leave (I clearly was as I had already organised the house, had an income and was desperate to leave), while Dad told me that he wanted me to learn from his mistakes (which I couldn’t as I didn’t know what his mistakes were and I needed to make my own to learn from them, even if some of these mistakes were big). My boys leaving home feels quite different to that. We’ve known for a couple of years that the oldest would be leaving this year as it is a requirement of his course (Medicine) for him to spend the next three years out in rural areas (part of a strategy to get doctors into the rural areas), and he’s really excited about it. My middle boy is excited about the idea of living out of home and the course that he’s about to embark on is only offered in Ballarat (Paramedicine and Nursing).

I also know that this means that we’ve done something right for them to be confident to move out. They can both drive (my middle boy has his licence test in a couple of weeks), they’ve got jobs and skills that can get them jobs in new places, they can cook and clean and they manage their finances.

I remember when I moved out of home, I realised that I had never had to clean a toilet before along with many other things that Mum had just done or Dad had just done and I hadn’t realised I needed to know. I’ve spent the last twenty-odd years trying to teach my boys how to do all the domestic stuff; the last thing I wanted to do was to send my boys out into the world expecting any female to do the domestic things for them. My husband has been a great role model for them with this as well by being the chief ironer, cooking a few nights a week and being more fastidious with cleaning than me.

Still, I worry. Have I taught them enough? Are they ready? Will they remember how to make a quick and healthy meal? Will they know how to make their dollar go a long way at the supermarket? I’m tackling my worry in the way I know best: write. I’ve started writing a little book for them that has all the family favourite recipes and extra tips and tricks. Things like how long you can leave food in the freezer, use red lentils to thicken a dish and add protein to the meal, which meals are great for making up a batch to freeze for busy days, how often to clean the toilet, and what are good staples for the pantry. My husband is going to add to it when I’m done and I’m keen to see what things he will add. Who knows if either of them will even use it when they leave, but even if they don’t I know I will feel like I’ve done my bit.

Have you had kids move out? Did you send them off with tips on what to do? What things did you wish you had known before you left home? What else do I need to tell my boys? Tell me all! Time is running out.

2 thoughts on “Have I taught them enough?”

  1. Boy, I remember moving out. Mine was sort of tempered, as I’d enlisted in the military when I was eighteen. I’d never scrubbed a toilet bowl. The military didn’t tell me how to do it; they expected us to know or figure it out. They did provide us with the opportunity to practice every day.

    I’d had a job so I knew a little bit about money, didn’t have any banking accounts. The military expected this. Banks and credit unions were available on base and counselors were available so we could figure it out. I learned how to file income taxes the next year, and had my first credit card (MasterCard, with a $300 limit) a year later.

    I’m sort of glossing over things. Mom and Dad had divorced. I’d cooked when I lived with Mom, helping her. She’d remarried and it wasn’t a good situation. I moved out when I was fourteen, living with Dad. It was us. He worked two jobs, so cooking was down to me. Mom gave me a cookbook. I used it, and still have it, wow, over five decades later. A year after joining the military, I was nineteen and married. Ah, life.

    Gosh, I didn’t mean to share so much. Your post just triggered deep memories. Good luck to your children. It sounds like they did well by you. Cheers

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