A lifestyle blog from a forty-something mum

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

12 Lessons My Daughters Have Learnt The Hard Way

Last week I read a fabulous feature in HuffPost Parents called 'The Bubble List: 31 Things My Sons Should Be Able To Do Before They Move Out,' written by Emily Mendell.

The list was impressive and around this time last year, I was probably compiling something similar as my twin daughters were heading off to university in just a few short months.

With both of them pretty stressed leading up to coursework deadlines and the exams themselves, I resolved that as soon as they had finished, they'd be learning some life skills and leave home knowing how to function in the adult world.

Epic fail doesn't begin to cover what happened next. Heading off for a two-week vacation after the exams, my daughters weren't even remotely interested in any of the umpteen tasks that needed to be done. Instead, the updating of iPod playlists was very high on their agenda. And after arriving home, it was yep, you guessed it... me who got up early and tackled the laundry until all twelve loads were completed.

Next, I decided it was time for no more Mrs Nice-Mum and refused to iron anything belonging to either of them. They fixed this by only ever wearing crumpled clothes. Requests to help with housework were met with extreme apathy. I divided the house into three separate zones and we cleaned one section apiece on a three-week rotation. By the time I got to the third week, I had my suspicions that very little had been cleaned by my daughters.

After the elation of results day, I asked the kids to come up with lists of kit required for university and realised that we needed to shop fast as we had five weeks and two daughters to deliver to new home towns 400 miles apart. I forced the issue on this one by heading up to Ikea, the pair of them begrudgingly in tow, grabbed a couple of trolleys and yelled. "Go." Fortunately, I had a back-up list as there was much they had forgotten.

Offers of cooking lessons largely fell on very deaf ears and by the time they left they could make French bread pizza, garlic bread, stir fry and pasta.

They did one load of laundry each declaring that they had it sussed - turns out they didn't. Oh, and they were also completely clueless about finances, how to renew a prescription and change a light bulb.

Packing the two of them up for university was painful. I kept being told there was plenty of time and I was being unreasonable. I single-handedly packed everything and the tension at home was unbearable.

Since arriving at university however, it's been an incredibly steep learning curve, as they've had to learn everything the hard way...
1. My heart filled with pride (and I was trying not to laugh) when Olivia announced that she'd managed to get a tomato ketchup stain out of her ballet top earlier this week. Just a year ago, she'd have ignored it and dumped the soiled item into the laundry basket.
2. She's also had to buy a sewing kit to sew on a button and told me off for not sending her with one. At the time I just couldn't see the point.
3. Writing a shopping list is actually an excellent idea - it's too easy to forget the important stuff without one.
4. If you use the last of the toilet roll - tissues (and hopefully you still have some of those) are your only option.
5. Food goes off in the fridge if you leave it for long enough.
6. If you pop a meal into the oven and wander off without setting a timer, it burns.
7. Sticking a foil tray in the microwave causes the aforementioned appliance to overheat and cut out.
8. Cooking cheese on toast in a toaster without a toaster bag isn't such a great idea.
9. Nor is washing white bedding with a new set of red towels.
10. If you use all the dishes and dump them in the sink you have to wash something before you can eat again. If you can't be bothered to do that, there's always Pot Noodle but you'll still need a fork.
11. If you sleep through both alarm clocks, there's no back-up Mum-alarm to drag you out of bed for your seminar.
12. If you lose your driver's licence and student ID you're not going anywhere, or being served alcohol.
I'd like to think that they'll no longer take all of the domestic c**p that goes on at home for granted when they're home for the holidays as they've had to unravel most of these mysteries for themselves.

It wasn't for want of trying to teach them how to live independently on my part.

Welcome to the real world.

Copyright©2014 Izzie Anderton


  1. I laughed so much reading that! I have to say though, seeing how my eldest is just nine I had all the romantic ideas and ideals about how I will raise him "properly" and he will know all these things before he is set out to the real world. Your posts are always a wake up call for me, and a slap of reality - I can so see exactly how everything you described going to happen here...
    I hope you at least will get some help around the house next time they are on holiday, and as for me, maybe I should start training the boys now when they are still somewhat in the age of listening... :)

  2. I can only blame myself for not teaching this earlier. I guess that we were always caught up with extra-curricular activities - ballet, Japanese & rowing and juggling my job! It was always easier (& less painful) to do it myself. To be fair they always did the dishes - but that was usually because I was collapsed in a heap nursing a glass of wine by that time!
    I don't think I'm optimistic about anything having changed when they're home again - in fact I feel another blog post coming on...

  3. They just won't be told, will they? Impressed that they've learned these lessons the hard way. I guess they won't forget now they've had to learn them in this way.
    Great post, made me smile :)

  4. On one hand my children (now 24, 21, &19) were lucky, they had no choice but to learn a lot of these things since I have always needed their help being disabled. Even so, there are screw ups. Packing and shopping for university is always a trial and expensive. For how many times we have moved middle child back and forth some 800 km away, she always forgets something and apparently grocery shopping with mom just puts her on edge. So I wander the store while her father helps her with groceries. Now the teenage boy will be moving into an apartment when he starts third year university in fall, so it will start all over again, the learning curve.

  5. Teenagers know everything don't they? I'm pretty sure I was exactly the same when I went to university!

  6. I love this! The thing is, the lessons we've all learned the best are those we learned through making a mistake. My children already don't pay attention to my lectures so I have no hope of them doing so as teenagers. I'll just have to cross my fingers and hope their mistakes are average, and not costly :)

  7. Great post Izzie, I have all this to come... I suspect that getting the boys to learn these basics will end the same, with them learning the hard way :)

  8. I love this post, so true Izzie. We all seem to have to learn the hard way. I think no matter what people tell us in life it's sometimes has to come in the form of a lesson learned! I really enjoyed reading this. Thank you ever so much for joining in with Share With Me. I love getting to know more about you and your lovely blog!!! Hope to see you again soon.

  9. hahaha Great post! Made me laugh out loud!! I guess sometimes the only way to learn is the hard way x

  10. Wonderful post of what to look forward to :) You're teaching them to build their own nests but they still want to depend on Mama Bird.

  11. Great post and it does remind me of my two teens currently aged 14 and 16! When it comes to cooking they know everything I know as it is something that we have enjoyed doing together since they were toddlers but cleaning now that is something that they are both completely clueless about! Oh well, all we can do is try with our kids lol! #Pocolo

  12. Brilliant! Learn from experience is definitely how I look at this - I am expecting Grace to do exactly what your daughters did! Thank you for linking to PoCoLo x

  13. I hate to say it, but I bet they come home and just pick up where they left off! After all they'll be home for a break won't they!! Very funny - if a little frustrating for you to be a part of. Hope they've learnt their lesson now though! #PoCoLo

  14. This post made me chuckle. They're some of the lessons I learnt at uni too, including seeing a button on and using an oven timer. I definitely should remember to use the oven timer more!


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