It’s time to prepare for your bigger world! Leaving school means the end of being a big fish in a small pond, and becoming a small fish in a much bigger, and potentially more dangerous, pond.
You’ll have to be a lot more ‘street smart’ and able to take care of yourself. If you’re still living at home, it’s time to change the relationship you have with your mum and dad. It needs to transition from being a ‘parent to child’ relationship to being an ‘adult to young adult’ relationship.
Learn to take care of your environment. Ultimately, this means being able to plan for meals, shop for food on a budget, cook a variety of relatively healthy evening dinners, clean the house and pay the bills. I know these things probably sound straightforward and easy, but you may be surprised just how many things there are to know and to master.
The goal is to be independent and easy to live with when you leave home. No one wants to share a house with someone who doesn’t know how to clean up after cooking or how to do dishes by hand (many flats don’t have dishwashers).
You also need to take care of your hygiene and health. I hope you don’t still need your mother to remind you to clean and floss your fangs twice a day! I know it seems like a little thing, but it’s really important if you don’t want to get gum disease, which will eventually cost you a fortune to fix. Do you change the sheets on your bed at least fortnightly? Do you take care of your own washing, and share in the general cleaning? If your mum or someone else is still doing these things for you, life in the real world will be much harder and more complicated than you think.
If you live at home, you should begin paying board (make a financial contribution to the running of the household) when you start to earn enough. I recommend that board should be 25 to 30 percent of your take-home income, and be paid by automatic payment, not cash. Believe me, you’ll get along with your parents much better if they can count on your board arriving without having to ask. You lose credibility big time if you short-pay your board because you’ve overspent, or stuffed up your budget.
Paying board is intended to prepare you for the future, and has nothing to do with whether your parents need or want the money. Spending all your income on yourself won’t teach you anything about how to become independent or live in the big wide world.
Remember, you’re preparing for where you’re headed, and that means one day leaving behind the comfort zone of home. Do everything as if you had left home already. Imagine your parents as your landlord, and your parents and siblings as flatmates. That way, you’ll become more aware if you are taking your family for granted. The acid test question to ask yourself is, ‘would I treat my landlord or flatmate like this?’
Yvonne Godfrey, is the founder of MIOMO (making it on my own), youth independence programme. She is also the author of ‘Parenting Yadults’ – How to Set Up Your Young Adult for Independence and Success in Life! and ‘Making it on my Own’ – 52 Smart Ways to Smash it in the Real World. Yvonne and her husband Simon have 2 adult daughters, and 2 grandchildren. For more information MIOMO.com
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