29 May 2012

Wanted - skills for life

According to the media, it seems that young families and pensioners are the two main groups feeling the most pressure due to the current financial circumstances. Personally, I think it has hit most of us. In a HeraldSun article recently, it stated:

A St Vincent de Paul analysis of cost pressures on families, to be released at an Australian Council of Social Service conference this week, shows cash-strapped pensioners and young families are suffering. Actual costs of electricity, health and food have not only increased above inflation, but cost pressures have compounded over time. Pensioners and young families spend a higher proportion of their income on health, utilities and food.

I'm sure many of you would agree, times are tough for many people, and not only in those two categories. When I work at the neighbourhood centre, I see people coming in for food parcels. These people often fall into these two categories, and others, and although we have workshops discussing how to decrease the cost of living, very few of them come along. I think that governments need to play an active part in the re-education of the electorate so that many of the frugal things most of us here do - making cleaning products, cooking from scratch, budgeting etc, become commonplace again.

It will help not only people on low incomes, it will help the average single or family person survive the tough times much better than they do now. When you read about the Great Depression, its inspiring and amazing to read what they did to get by. My grandparents and parents lived through the Great Depression and they did it using the life skills they had that were commonplace then. Many of those skills can still save a substantial amount of money and they still have the potential to help people who take the time to learn them. Many don't know anything except what they know, they don't know there is another way or where to get help in equipping themselves for a more frugal life.

I would like to see Life Skills taught in secondary schools so young people move into their own independent lives better equipped for today's reality. I think tuition in how to write a budget and handle credit cards, compound interest, simple contracts, consumer rights, how to complain effectively, renters' rights and responsibilities, cooking from scratch and using leftovers, sewing, mending, green cleaning, how to wash and iron clothes, how to grow fruit and vegetables in a backyard and general home economics would stand our students in good stead, particularly in their teenage years and leading into young adult life. Ideally, these skills would routinely be handed down from parents to their children, but often parents now don't have these skills themselves. It would help young people to understand the legalities of life before anyone takes advantage of them and it would show them that life is tough but can be made better, and even wonderful, with work hard.

We all have to do our fair share. No one gets a free ride.

Our governments should be leading us. They should be watching duopolies and making sure grocery prices are not destabilised and remain within the reach of families, working people, retired folk and pensioners. They should be proposing innovative ways of teaching our children, not playing it safe. I wonder if we could interest the CWA or Women's Institute in teaching home economics classes. It needs real people with real skills to do the teaching. We want our young people to know how to look after themselves, not how to open a can of soup or cook a packet of cake mix. We need to get our communities involved. Hopefully, this would put us back on track and in 20 years, when parents would be well equipped again to teach their own children, we'd be able to stop the classroom teaching of life skills.

What is your government doing? Are their any bright lights where you live that can shine the way for us over here?  What can we all do to help our young people learn what we know?



  1. There's not much done by the local government, neither by schools here on this chapter.
    I so so agree with you, Rhonda!
    I spoke several times to a clerk of social works, telling that I would love to support or help people, young mothers, cooking from scratch, sewing, quilting ( I do 'teach' three ladies), mending, cleaning a.s.o.
    Never got any answer or invitation.
    I keep doing my utmost within my own social and creative :>) circle.
    Thank you so much for this most important and interesting post, Rhonda!!


  2. Here in the UK it seems like kids are encouraged and expected to do well academically but the real life skills you have described are not taught, which is a shame. Martyn Lewis (of moneysavingexpert dot com)has been collecting signatures in order to petition the UK government to introduce financial education in schools.

    It would also be great if they could re-introduce cookery lessons and teach people lifeskills such as how to run a household. Perhaps these things are seen as secondary to having a career, but they are essential skills.

    England, UK

  3. Rhonda I was going to write myself along these lines because of an article in our local newspaper entitled "moms in a stitch". It starts like this..."skills like making pastry, baking and seeing buttons are dying out because modern moms are too busy to learn them". Apparently a study was done using 2000 mothers as the population sample and the stats are that only half tried to learn some skills after having children, one third are not able to cook and clean and one fifth said they couldn't be bothered to try! The encouraging thing is that more than 2/3 said they would like to be able to pass some skills into their own children.

    For me, as our family is together 24/7 it is a way of life and I like to encourage other news moms to ditch the microwave living lifestyle for the crockpot one... I have learnt not to rely on our government for positive social change as it is the family and those private organizations (and communitu centers like yours) that will make the most impact.

  4. Brava, Rhonda! I wholeheartedly agree with your idea for a Life Skills curriculum. Here in the States, school budgets are stretched so tightly, I'm certain it will have to come from outside the school system.

  5. Sadly, here in the good ol' USA our government wants us to spend, spend and spend some more. That, and being dependent on hand-outs for life. Being frugal is anti-American.

    I home schooled my son and what an eye-opener that was in regards to the education system here. Our education system teaches our children how to take tests so they can pass and move on. My husband returned to college after a 30 year absence, and his Professors are frustrated with the recent high school grads and their lack of the basics. While he took the assessment tests, many of those recent grads were complaining about not doing well and needing to take remedial classes.

    I do not believe we should depend on any government to educate the population in any matter. We, as parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles should be responsible. I also believe the local community should as you stated have some type of home ed. 101 for those who did not/will not be taught at home.

    There is a Woman's group here I am joining that promotes homemaking. Maybe we can start a program as you stated. Will keep you posted.

    My husband and I are living on his Naval retirement and VA disability. We do not feel that we lack anything. We live simple by choice. I am not here to make the utility companies rich. We have no credit cards by choice. We all must be responsible for our cash outflow. As we say here, "the buck stops here". In other words, if your spending more than you have, do not blame anyone but yourself.

    Thank you for all you do to help teach simple living.
    blessings, jilly

  6. I always enjoy your articles & direction. Is there any way you could enlarge your text? I'm wearing glasses & using a magnifer just to read this & the previous post. Thank you for helping other people!

  7. I couldn't agree more with you about teaching life skills at school. I am luck in that my Mam, Dad and Grandparents all taught me useful things that I am able to pass on to my little son. There are such holes in my knowledge, though, and I would love to be able to turn to some senior community members (or those with more knowledge) and learn more about living without mass consumerism. I think that many senior people would be only to glad to pass on their skills. I think the problem may be in getting young adults to actually want to learn the skills. Lily

  8. We actually had a compulsory course called 'Life skills' in school (that was nearly 15 years ago now). Although the list of life skills they taught was quite different to your list. I think resume writing was one of them...

  9. Hi! I was just passing thru on my day off. Hope you don't mind. Really enjoyed this post and I TOTALLY agree with you! It is very important to have survival skills. Sure it's ok to have book sense...but I believe, common sense can take you even further in life

    Sewing, gardening, cooking, and being frugal was just how I was brought up. At the time I didn't think these were special skills to have because it was just...normal. Everyone who lived in the rural south had these skills. Even a few men. In fact, the boys in our family were taught to cook and clean. Some men are lucky to marry early. But what about those who marry later or who have sick wives? Well this was a BIG concern for my grandmother. She thought it was best that EVERYONE learn to cook, clean, do laundry,cut grass, and start a garden.

    For the girls, she thought they needed to be more involved with money management and car care. These are skills she had to learn the hard way after my grandfather became ill. She didn't know how to write a check or withdraw money, because he handled all that. She was 48 before she learned to drive or pump gas, because he took her where she needed to go.

    Sorry for the novel. Just wanted to let you know, I get your point. Hope to drop by again! Take care! :)

  10. I couldn't agree more. We were taught economics at school (25 yrs ago) but it was government/world economics. Not once was I ever taught how to manage a household budget, I fumbled and stumbled for years (and still do) with a family budget.

    The CWA running home living classes has to be one of the best suggestions I have ever heard, their members are getting older, and I fear a collapse of this unique group if fresh life isn't breathed into it, this could just be the direction they need to take to raise funds and encourage new members. What an insightful idea.

  11. Morning Rhonda, I am a recent 'slow downer' and learning more all the time. Growing up I learnt some life skills but I had a very busy mother with many kids and she didn't consciously pass on many of her amazing frugal skills, she just got on with making do and providing a loving, healthy home. However she did ensure I got a good education and to this day I'm grateful as I have skills to learn for myself through enquiry, experimentation and using available networks to help me. Now in retirement she will take time to pass on her skills if I ask her (like jam making, gardening, making a dollar stretch further with clever shopping etc). In fact she loves that her kids ask her for information and help. Just back when I was a kid it wasn't a priority for her to ensure we learned.
    I think schools are being asked to teach our children more and more and a lot of which could be learned from home and the community, which also have a responsibility. All families will have slightly different life priorities. I know families where the parents are very busy and outsource much of their needs however, they value good healthy food and will make everything from scratch from the farmers markets. Other families where an organic garden and exercise is important along with hard work outside of the home. I've been able to tap into these and other families to learn and choose what it is that is important for my family and in the process I may share some of the things that are important to me. Learning is a life long thing and while you can sow the seeds at school and home, certain skills may become more important and interesting at different stages of life. I personally don't think it is a government's responsibility to ensure all life skills are learned through their schools/programs etc. Communities can work together to provide places of learning and support such as at your local centre.

    Another excellent thought provoking blog post Rhonda!

  12. Oh Rhonda, how apt! I've been tossing around the idea of a post that I will write up today, after seeing a young couple with a baby return groceries at the checkout. They didn't have enough money in their account to pay for them and I so badly wanted to help! Skills SHOULD be taught to our young ones. They could learn to live on less.

  13. Rhonda, you point out that of the people receiving food parcels, few attend the cost-of-living class. People have to want to learn to benefit from teaching. In QLD schools, home economics is compulsory in Yr 8 - simple meal planning, budgeting and cooking, simple sewing. The kids who do well in these classes are the same children who do well in all the classes - those with a good attitude and generally those with family support. Home is the place for teaching life skills, and giving schools yet another job to do other than trying to impart acadaemic skills will still only help people who are willing to learn and work.
    The CWA in our town holds classes for children teaching knitting and other craft work.If people want to learn the opportunities exist.

  14. I am a secondary business teacher, I'm not sure if you know, business is no longer a part of the new national curriculum p-10. In this subject I taught students how to budget and account for their money, as well as topics such as shopping around for the best deal on mobile phones and credit cards. Apparently the Australian government believe that these skills are not necessary!


  15. I'm really grateful for a mum who set the example with living on a budget, planning to use leftovers, saving for things we wanted, even needed, but making sure there was money for special things like holidays, special dinners when friends came round and for us to participate in activities, guides, piano, swimming. I know many of the things I do are things that I saw her do before me.
    I also had a brilliant teacher in year 9 and 10 for commerce where we learnt about borrowing money, doing our own tax return, saving, investing and applying for jobs.
    I wish we had had a home economics class instead, but unless the teacher was really good I don't know how it would have been, most of the things I hear they used to teach I already knew, of course it would have benefited others...
    I'm not sure about how to get people interested... Rhonda I ran a similar group and we ran it for 6 weeks rather than one off workshops, so people could get involved and know the other people, there were always little freebies, a garden in a bucket to take home, cook a meal and eat it... you're probably already doing these things so not sure...

  16. One hands-on way is to become a Girl Guide or Scout leader. I am a Girl Guide leader working with young women to develop these skills, leadership, resilience, tolerance and community.

  17. Couldn't agree with you more!! I think a similar program to work for the dole but with life skills would be helpful too. Luckily, my mother was a SAHM and passed on how to cook, iron, sew and keep house. At school if I had wanted to do Home Ecc I would have had to do a non-academic program. At the time this didn't seem right and it still doesn't seem right!! I graduated in 1986 from an all girls school. Maybe it was left over from Women's Lib that these skills weren't useful for us to learn or something? Personally, I think they're priceless!

  18. Rhonda you are right and it is all about balance. What is the point of having all the education in the world if you can't look after your self and your family.

  19. I completely agree with you Rhonda! I can't understand why the powers that be don't value these very important skills more highly. Regardless of gender or wealth, we all have to manage our homes and money and let's face it, as much as we'd like to most of us can't afford accountants, gardeners, cleaners and cooks to take care of this for us. There's a general attitude that these skills are menial, but the reality is that knowing how to budget and take care of your home can be the difference between living comfortably within your means (however small those means might be) and being in serious financial trouble. And living in a clean comfortable home regardless of how humble or palatial is always a bonus too!

    The truth of the matter is that most young people would not be learning these skills at home any more and leave home completely unprepared for how to look after themselves. I know I did!

  20. Annie - if you are using a Windows computer and a mouse with a scroll wheel then you can fix this really easily. Hold down the Control (Ctrl) key on your keyboard while you scroll the mouse wheel up and down. The text will get bigger and smaller so you can adjust it to how you like it! I think this works on Macs too but I haven't got one to hand to try it out on.

  21. I love the idea of Stephanie Alexander’s Kitchen Garden Program for schools. Kids learning to grow food, and then to prepare it. Quite a lot of schools through Oz are participating, many also run a chicken breeding program and have worm farms for lunch leftover scraps. It’s a good start!
    My kids love the show Dirtgirl world (ABC Network), where they learn all about gardening, their natural surroundings and tinkering with scrap materials.
    My sons preschool (3-4yr olds) loves parents participating, I’ve started a little veggie garden for them, which in turn the kids will cut the veggies and learn to make soup. We’ll grow sprouts in eggshells, and we’re working on an idea how to have the kids making and baking bread. Another parent brought an egg incubator, how the kids love to see the chicks hatch and grow! All of the chicks found a new home in kids backyards. That’s less then 1 hour a week of volunteering.

  22. Hi Rhonda,
    I am 28 and still class myself as a 'young person' and I would like to say that I dont think young people even have this style of living on the radar, I dont think they even in there wildest dreams think about living this way or even know what it is.
    Also on both my mothers side and my fathers side my grandparents all had these kind of skills and on one side they used to grow and preserve, mend etc. but never offered to show me how to do it or include me in it and on the other side there was always a lot of criticism or judgement as if our generation has it to easy. I would have loved it if they would have offered to teach me these skills with a loving heart as you do here.
    I am so glad that I found people like you who show us how to do it, I wish there were more people like that. I really hope that these skills are not lost over time but re invigorated. I know that the skills I am learning are enriching my life everyday and I am now so willing to learn more :)

  23. Hello rhonda,
    I agree with all you have said and also with "busy mum of 3". I actually think the CWA is our best hope at this point. Whilst at the moment I do not belong to the CWA, I think that some time in the future I will look into joining.These ladies have so much knowledge and are really respected for what they do in our communities. Keep encouraging us all Rhonda as we can tend to leave it to others to do what perhaps we could be doing and supporting. Again great comments from all our friends.
    Blessings Gail

  24. I remember doing home economics as a class in year 10 with a wonderful teacher - Mrs Kirber. Of course we spent the whole time whinging about how useless all this stuff was (ah... 15 year olds....) but I look back now and I'm so very grateful. I didn't learn these skills from my mum so Mrs Kirber was my stand-in and I'm so lucky she was. We learnt about budgeting, basic cooking skills, sewing skills...

    I'll always remember that the first cooking class we had we walked in to find instruction sheets for "Welsh rarebit" - I was horrified! All these awful images of escaped rabbits bolting around the class room while we tried to wring their hapless necks!On our first day, no less! Imagine my relief when a slice of bread and some cheese was presented to each work station.... Ha!

    There is no doubt whatsoever that these classes should be compulsory. Absolutely. If we don't equip our young people with these skills we are failing them as surely as if we didn't teach them to read and write.

  25. Rhonda, thanks for the thought provoking blog, I totally agree. Where is our resilience when times are tough? I think a mentoring program would be great, where each one of us partner with someone who needs help to be shown a different way. I would be willing to be a mentor it is just finding a way to do this????

    Enjoy your day

  26. I am a disability pensioner. I have just applied for and found a house to move into as our present landlord wants his house back. The real estate people say we shouldn't pay more than 30% of our wage in rent as do most financial institutions. The bond assistance people, however, realise that with our small income we may have to pay 50% or even more. So, despite living on an under useable wage we pay more for rent and have less to keep up with the rest of life. By the way, we managed to scrape up the bond ourselves but it will put me in a very difficult position when the three family members leave home soon.
    Your article has common sense and it would be very helpful for those skills to be taught in school. Cherrie

  27. What an excellent idea, we seem to have lost a lot of homemaking skills in favour of a Higher Education. It would serve us no good if we were to lose these skills for ever.
    When I was young I learned to darn, embroider,knit,sew and many other crafts. now I am teaching my Granddaughter.....

  28. Hi Rhonda, I totally agree with you, I myself elected to do a subject called Life Skills in high school which educated me in the basics of living and it was probably the only subject I passed! Having left home at the tender age of 14 I had to learn how to do the many things my mother never taught me as she was a very young mother not interested in the home making side of life. Now at 36 years of age after being made redundant from my office job I found myself wanting to stay at home to look after my family. This is what makes me happy and I am not afraid to admit it. I am only just learning how to budget, stockpile, knit, mend, cook from scratch really well, make soap, green cleaners and laundry detergent. I have attended one of your simple living workshops in Maleny, have your book, read your blog daily and you are a wonderful role model, I come to you when I need those motherly teachings : ) So thankyou Rhonda. I am committed on teaching my children everything I learn so they will know how to look after themselves too. They attend a Montessori School which prepares them for life. My girls are 4 & 5 and at school they are learning how to wash dishes, clean & polish, sew buttons, cook, grow food, do the laundry, have good table manners, solve conflicts, research, cursive writing, maths using the old fashioned rods and beads etc The essentials of living a good life, and they LOVE it. The other day my 4yo brought in the washing in a basket without me even asking! Have a great day and keep up the good work! Loren

  29. I really enjoyed reading your post, Rhonda, and whole-heartedly agree.

    Last year I participated in a budgeting program run by the Brotherhood of St Lawrence as part of their savings initiative scheme. Unfortunately, the program stopped with our little group (of 3!!) because of lack of funding. One topic of discussion is how we'd love to see this sort of program introduced to schools. It was all about finance (planning a budget, setting up savings, financial educational sites, being aware of scams ..) but it was certainly a step in the right direction.

    To take this further, we really do need the government to support an active campaign to put frugality on everyone's radar.

  30. The warm fireplaceMay 29, 2012 9:25 am

    Totally agree i have been saying for years that children and young adults are not equipped to cope with life, i live in the uk they seem more worried about targets than on producing knowledgeable children,also i feel skills in parenting for both sexes could be a good foundation along with all those on your list, my father and nanna taught me so much, invaluable.

  31. I really agree with your thoughts in this post. People just don't seem to have all the life skills that you write about. Home Economics for all, I say.


  32. Hi Rhonda, I truly believe that some of these living skills would be better off taught in High School than some of the subjects that are available now...if a teenager had the skills to make a weeks menu, shop for it, cook it..maybe learn to grow some of the food, make a budget, things like this would contribute to their knowleged for when they need it, not saying they would use it straight after school leaving, but at least it would be in their minds to call on when the time came....I find it distressing to know that when a niece got married at 23 and left home, she did not have the basic skills to run a home....learning these basics is so important, I am doing my best to pass on as much as I can to my children....great post...Suzanne

  33. I totally agree with your post too. I know of two 80 year old women who have taken young neighbor girls under their wings and give them little class. They may bake bread or cookies, or make a necklace or a pillow. Plant something or plan a food shopping trip. Somedays they make cards for others. Whatever comes to mind. The women told me the mothers work and say they have no time to be with their children let alone teach them life skills. The bond between these girls and these older women is so special. I remember learning so many things from my grandparents and older friends. They are not teaching a class full but at least one child is learning. Men could naturally also help to educate boys on skills with the their parents approval {or help}..
    You would think with the parent both working they would teach the kids skills if for nothing than to help run the home but teaching children takes more time than doing the job yourself...something all parent know. So teaching I take it, does not get done. What a shame. So far we have had no children around us I could teach. The only children that have lived around us go to baby sitters before and after school till the parents get them after work. Then they are inside and do homework and bed. Another problem I have is most children where I live do not speak the same language as I do. I do what I can for the families. I feel for young parents..and their children. When we grow old enough to be out in the world there is enough to learn new without learning the very basics we should have grown up learning. I am still shocked at the people my age {65} I talk to who say proudly that they never learned to cook ! Or balance a check book! Sarah

  34. I remember when I was in college, I had a roommate who had never dealt with a blown electrical fuse. She had run the microwave and toaster at the same time, so the whole circuit blew. Two hours later when I noticed the fridge was getting warm, she mentioned that something had gone wrong, but she didn't really know what. The gal was a chemical engineer! Her parents (and others) had never taught her many life skills. She couldn't cook or clean, either. Luckily, she was a polite girl, so I didn't mind helping her along the way.

    Anyway, I'm full on in support of teaching life skills to kids. If nothing else, my children will be handy around the house when they're grown!

  35. Hi Rhonda.
    Great post as always. I love that you always have a positive outlook and solution ideas rather than common place negativity.
    Having just lost my job coming off maternity leave, this has been a bit of a wake up call. My mother and father, home economics classes and a WANT to be more self reliant had me in a good place to handle this; have a large emergency fund, a garden producing produce, foraging, preserving taking up sewing and knitting again; and a financial plan (budgeting and frugal shopping).
    I just wanted to add a couple of things, my dad also taught me to be able to do basic mechanic work on my car, do basic home maintenance such as change electrical fuses, fix broken locks, furniture and toys; as well as make wooden and metal things such as toys, clocks etc. Fathers/male adults play an enormous role in teaching as well.
    I attended a technical school which had an outstanding academic profile as well. However the teaching of sewing, cooking, budgeting, woodwork, automative classes and sheet metal were also invaluable to consolidate teachings from mum and dad. The loss of these programs/technical schools is a travesty.
    In relation to government vs. community responsibility-I believe it is both, and should be a partnerships approach, through schools and community agencies. As another poster mentioned, if the community agencies that help those teach life skills lose funding for programs, they cannot help.
    There are many great examples of how government can support communities as well as 'teach a man to fish'-for example: when the Argentinean economic collapse occurred in the 90s, the government internalized the country’s industries and supported agriculture and other major industries such as clothing and footwear manufacture to provide skills, jobs and affordable quality products to Argentineans-compared to massive exports/imports trade. (Then resumed more normal 'south-south' trade when the situation was better)
    They also published and handed out pamphlets to the population in Buenos Ares to help them identify edible weeds growing in the local area to eat that were nutritious and free.
    I worry about the next few years not only for my family but for many of us, but seeing the small resurgence and appreciation for life skills and self resilience is reassuring and hopefully will become common place again.

  36. This article today really spoke to me! You've described my dream job perfectly! I'd love to work for a non profit teaching those exact skills, as I believe too many make it out into the world without those skills. I know I was one, and I had to learn the hard way.

    I studied Family and Consumer Sciences in college, what they used to call home ec,and these were the things we were taught to teach. Most schools here though just offer cursory classes on teaching the basic cooking and sewing without teaching the budgeting, meal planning, and practicality to make it important.

    --Beulah in USA

  37. Jumping up and down and cheering for you Rhonda. You have hit the nail on the head. We need Lifeskills 101 to be taught in our schools and it needs to be implemented now!!!

    I was incredibly lucky in that my mother and grandparents taught me the value of a dollar and how to make do. The same skills I have passed onto my children - whether they want to hear them or not...vbg. It's their choice as to what they apply to their lives but at least I know I have tried to install the basics. Eldest daughter is now at Uni 2 hours away from home and living well on next to nothing and actually thanked me for teaching her how to budget, cook and clean as she sees her friends struggling with these tasks.

    When I was at school, some considerable time ago ; - ) , we used to have a double lesson in cooking where we learnt to set the table, cook a two course meal - meat and three veg and a dessert and do the dishes afterwards. I loved those lesson. We tried different recipes and I was blessed to have a cookery teacher who passed on valuable information such as how to judge a bargain when shopping and how to clean properly. Fast forward to last years cookery class and my second daughter was the only one who knew how to cook sausages and mashed potatoes. Not even the teacher knew!

    I know many say that parents and grandparents need to teach the children and that's true. The trouble is many of those parents and even some grandparents don't know how to do many of those basic skills in the first place. I think the time has come to teach the next generation so they can teach the ones who came before them. A backwards way of doing it but it is becoming a necessary step.

    I also know that there are higher priorities in schools than basic life skill lessons but when our local secondary schools pass mark is a mere 18% (I kid you not) I have to wonder just what lessons the children are learning.

    Off my soap box now. Thank you as always for such a thought proving post and thank you all those who posted comments. I found them fascinating to read.

  38. There is a quote by Mother Theresa that goes something like this: "If you can't feed a thousand people, feed one". If we each attempted to help one neighbour or friend or relative, I believe we all could make help young people remember their roots. My mother was a SAHM, but wasn't able to help me learn the necessary skills that I needed to have because she was overwhelmed with life. I learned most things on my own through books and now through blogs. I know that young people will want to do the same if they can identify that this will help them have a happier and more satisfying life, as well as a more financially stable one.

  39. I am a younger mum of 4 cherubs, aged 5 and under. We manage on my husbands income (thankfully he earns enough so i can stay home with our children.), but the cost of living is extraordinary. We have a mortgage, which we are working towards paying off early, hopefully before our eldest starts highschool.

    Even without buying packet foods, cooking from scratch, growing veges, buying cheaper brands of toiletries etc, vinegar for cleaning etc etc we still spend a huge amount on food each week. I avoid additives as well which bumps up the price of our bill. I can understand why people fill their kids up with packet foods, it literally is cheaper to eat rubbish!

    Budgeting skills and cooking classes would be a wonderful thing to introduce in schools, i did Home Ec, sewing etc at highschool and found it very valuable :)

  40. I was told a little while ago by the Home Ec teacher where i work as a gardener that they no longer train Home ec teachers.This particular teacher is brilliant in that she has maintaned ares with our students both male and female teaching skills like knitting hygene,budgeting and so on,very rare to find one who covers so much. I sewed my childrens clthes and my own when they were younger and taught them basic sewing skills but boy I have trouble getting them to understand simple ecoonomics like shorten showers,dont waste food just cause they dont feel like what Ive cooked. Yes we are feeling the pinch probably even more in this economic time with a Hubby who is partial and permanetly disabled with his right hand due to an acident at home where was saving money doing it himself,ironic.

  41. This was a beautiful post, I read all the comments and have to say that I'm so greatful for the internet in teaching me those skills as I went to a german grammar school any life skills classes were looked down on. I remember hearing that if we wanted to learn practical skills we were at the wrong school as we were only prepared for university. My husband went to an Ag college and I very jealous of all their practical classes. :)
    I have teenage sisters and hopefully mum can learn from how hard setting up home was for me and teach a little more to them. I feel like I had a six year learning by doing crash course and only now things are starting to come together but I keep thinking it didnt have to be this hard!
    So thank you Rhonda


    PS: I love the story about the old ladies teaching the girls, thats why it still takes a village !

  42. I totally agree with you! Schools should be teaching the youngsters all these skills. When I see people on TV complaining about the cost of living, but they continue eating out at McDonalds, or others, continue drinking themselves silly...I have no pity for them. Why not learn how to cook fresh food, which would be better for their health and wealth?
    Budgeting is also so important, I see from chats with my younger colleagues - uni students - that they just spend on the latest mobiles, another fancy dress for a special occasion, then they complain they don´t have money!

  43. I totally agree Rhonda we definitely need to teach life skills in school. Especially for many children life has changed so much and they live in the instant age of having everything instantly on hand 24 hr technology.
    Many people lack the basic cooking skills that have not been handed down from generation to generation.
    A young girl I met recently explained her serious lack of cooking skills as she had went to boarding school and her mother didn't cook when she was home.
    She was mortified to tell me that she burnt potatoes because she didn't realise that she had to put water in the pot when boiling.
    A very intelligent young lady but unable to cook for herself.
    Bring on some basic life skills and back to the teaching children manners and respect.

  44. Rhonda! I can now see your posts. I never knew how to enlarge it with the control key! What a gift! Thanks for the help via your commentors. Just a good example of one person helping another!

  45. As a home educating mom, I consciously include my children in many of the areas that you have discussed in your post. At the moment, the new skill that we are learning together is cheese making. I wish that I had been taught more of these thrifty skills as a child rather than having to teach myself as an adult.

  46. I think Jenny's comment (As anon ) above really hit the nail on the head. She commented as a business teacher. I know that as an English teacher we had senior English Communications (non-uni English) course that covered renting (the assignment was finding a rental online, "applying" for it be filling out the appropirate RTA forms and creating a list of weekly, monthly and quarterly expenses. Another assignment was creating budgets and discussing lifestyle, their final assignment was a resume and job interview that we brought people from the local community in to do the interviewing. It was so rewarding to teach, as these students were generally quite disengaged. Some schools are trying, but not all have chosen to do these English units and yes, the National Curriculum will change what we can teach again. Whenever the opportunity arises, I take time to talk about issues that relate to students as well as the unit. I think some of the problem is that these skills don't lead to money (for most) so the government doesn't value them. They want people to spend, not save money!

  47. Just thought I would add...there is a fabulous book called Lifeskills for Children that is very popular amongst homeschoolers but is not homeschool specific.

  48. Thank you for you interesting article. I too lament the decline in the ability to live simply and sustainable. Yet i do not agree with the call for the government to be solely responsible for bringing us back to basics. Is it not the government that has robbed these basics from us and our families? They are the ones who have enticed our mothers and women in general into the workforce, away from the position in which they would be able to pass on all these skills to the next generation. Motherhood and above all being a stay at home mum has become the scorn of society. To be working outside the home -it doesn't matter what- that is much more rewarding than being the poor ole mum at home. The family unit has been destroyed, and along with it the very skills so much needed for happy contented living today. Do we really need to call on that same government to help us resurrect these skills? No way. Where is our pride in being Mothers/home carers or whatever you wish to be called....It is our privilege to pass on those life -giving skills to the next generations. The government and our public schools should never take over the place and position of the home. How do we go about this? Maybe we need to demand more respect and appreciation for the wonderful work so many of us are doing out there. Maybe more incentive and government support (i don't necessarily mean financial support here) to be a stay-at home -mum/homemaker. Stop forcing mothers to go out and work so that we have more time and energy to teach our children/friends/neighbours to acquire these everyday life skills, how to use their money wisely,sewing, mending, cooking, laundry, veggie growing, car maintenance etc etc.

  49. Annie, I didn't know how to do that either so thanks to you for asking.

    I have three children, with the oldest aged 22 and living out of home. All three have been taught to cook, clean a toilet, budget and separate whites from colors.

    I have worked full time and or part time their whole lives. To me it is part of our role as parents to prepare them for life and be a contributing member of the family. But I know not all kids have that opportunity so maybe it should be an after school thing rather than a school requirement. And getting the cwa or other women's groups involved is a great idea. What about residents of retirement homes . They are often close to schools and it could give the two generations a better understanding of each other.

  50. Speaking as a young person who knits, sews, crochet, cooks, cleans naturally and even tries to grow veges, I am amazed at the amount of people who have an element of negativity about these things, calling them Nanna things to do! Luckily for me I am somewhat stubborn and kept doing these things for the sheer enjoyment and satisfaction that they bring.I remember being shown a few things as a young girl (like basic knitting) but, other than that, I have had no one to teach me these things and would have loved that! I have largely taught myself. But one thing I know is that when any one of my three children wants to help me garden, knit, sew or cook I am so happy that I made the choice to do these things. I totally love your post Rhonda! Hopefully the things you wrote of happen in the future.

  51. While I was reading your blog and your thoughts about skills for life, I remember listening to the radio on the way home (ABC) about a report on Jamie Oliver's Ministry of Food in Australia. Apparently there is one in Ipswich (and another to be set up in Victoria) where cooking is taught from scratch for only $10 a time with concessions available. Even basics, like boiling an egg, to making risotto. People of varying ages, old and young, were going along to learn how to cook and add variety to their meals.
    There needs to be a major change in thinking not just by governments. Consider what it takes to get a housing loan. It is usually based on a two-income family where once it was a one-income family.
    When governments want to educate the population, it usually means schools and teachers are required to impart this change in an already crowded curriculum. Parents today are time-poor so some things have gone by the way-side, which is a pity.
    All my children were introduced to equivalent of home economics through high school and I was surprised by what they were expected to cook. Not much. I can only hope that I have led by example.
    My son taught his friend (who has his own house) to clean the bathroom.
    I guess the only way that change can be made is to keep pressing on, lead by example, be ready to teach them when they are ready and willing and keep one foot going ahead of the other. I'd like to think this will create a ripple effect.

  52. francesmoniqueMay 29, 2012 10:10 pm

    Rhonda your book should be compulsory reading at school!

  53. I don't know if I would want the US government to be in charge. I think they want us to be dependent actually.

    With schools, everything became the push to go to college. Everyone needed to go to college. Never mind not everyone has the aptitude. . .
    Classes like home ec and shop were taken out of the curriculum around here some time ago. Now you have those kids and now their kids who are not receiving fundamentals. That said, they should be receiving those at home. The school back when did a nice job in filling for the few lacking parents.

    Let's face it, homemaking skills just are with the times. lol

    It does have an impact on the young, financially stressed. I volunteered at a food pantry for a while. They don't take rice and beans. . . they take mac&cheese, hamburger helper, hotdogs, canned spaghetti. They want pancake mix or packaged cereal, not oatmeal or flour. They want those convenience items, not so much because they are lazy, but because they have absolutely no idea how to prepare from scratch.

    One day we received a flat of nearly past strawberries. They needed to be frozen or jammed that day. Not one taker, not one. I mentioned jam and was looked at like my hair was on fire. Had someone said, Oh I would love to, but don't know how. I would have personally gone out and purchased the remaining supplies and gave them a lesson.

    Lack of skills and lack of initiative.

    That said for the lesser haves, my husband is an executive type. Dinner parties, functions. The exec wives are no better off. They would have to get their hands dirty. Eww ick. Might mess up their iphones. I was actually asked why I would can, garden, sew. My husband was asked once by a co-worker why we lived significantly below out means. They will really have to fall hard before that thinking gets changed.

  54. I totally agree with all of this..i have tried to teach my older girls how to budget for a household and also how to be frugal and mend items that can be mended..its so much fun for them to learn and me to show them...i am slowly teaching the little ones everything i can..my husband is showing our sons-in-law how to change plugs,wallpaper,paint..but we shouldn't have to they should already know but were never taught..we don't mind because we like to share and hopefully give them some skills along with it..
    Schools should teach these things along side the regular stuff.

  55. What a wonderful post this was to read! Same with all the comments :) It really made my day as I feel so strongly about this topic. I was just wondering Wendy if you knew the author of that Lifeskills for Children book? I am trying to find some more information on it. Thanks!

  56. Education in the States has changed since I was in high school with all the concerns being only about test scores. We joke now that they should have made auto shop classes mandatory because then we would all know how to do oil changes!
    Part of the issue is that you need to change the mindset of the general public. That is where you will run into a tough time. Celebrity culture has some people salivating for the latest Coach bag or Kardashian garbage. Learning how to live within your means or being okay driving a car that is just two years old is not something some people want to embrace. Why learn to cook when you can have food delivered a la Jenny Crag or prepackaged at Trader Joe's or Whole Foods? I do not begrudge those that can afford that, but as my mom once pointed out as we passed a Ferrari in the parking lot of a huge discount store, "The rich stay rich because they shop at places like this." It should be amended to say the smart rich. Not everyone with money thinks to be frugal.
    When I read a newspaper article recently where a welfare recipients listed what she purchased and it was milk, cereal and tortillas. Are they buying name brands? Has anyone taught them to coupon and buy store brands? Why can't we teach them how to buy in bulk, tuna, beans, rice, etc. for healthful meals and get more bang for their buck??? why can't the general public be taught that as well? Without sounding too paranoid, I sometimes believe the ignorance of the masses makes the marketers/corporations very happy and that is incredibly sad.

  57. The government is not going to do anything, I have given up on this administration. All we can do is buckle down and help each other. I will be watching a friend's kids this summer and teaching them to cook a nice cheap meal each so that they can help out their mother who is working long hours to help each other. We installed a clothesline at the end of last year and have not touched the dryer since then. Unfortunately electricity prices jumped higher, so our power bill is still higher than last year. I wish I could switch to LED light bulbs (CFL's give me migraines... it helps when shopping though... get in and out before it hits me from the lights in the stores) but installing LEDS in our house will run us at nearly $1000. I hate talking abut the economy. It makes me grumpy. I am going to stop. Now.

  58. Hi Rhonda,
    You are so right. When I was a young girl at school we learned how to knit, crochet and embroider. Nowadays there is no money and no time for that here in The Netherlands.
    I hope initiatives can be brought to life to learn the young ones how to do those things. I certainly try to give my kids as much info and skills as I can ; )
    Have a great day.

  59. Hi Rhonda,

    I am in exactly the age group you are talking about - 24, learning how to live independently, thinking about starting a family. I am so interested in these skills but often struggle to find someone to teach me. I am very grateful that my mother taught me the basics of knitting, sewing and crochet, but as one example, I asked her to teach me how to darn (as she was taught by her grandmother) but she refused to teach me - told me to buy new socks instead!

    I think some kind of lessons (particularly community based for young adults) would be great - bear in mind that people ignore stuff in schools because they think it's irrelevant. The time to teach these things (in an organised fashion, rather than by parents) is as people leave home and suddenly realise that they don't know how to cook/clean/mend etc. Students on a tight budget - who often are developing an eco-conscience - would be very open to something like this.

    I think there will always be the need for some kind of organised classes, because for some people family will just not provide this - whether for those orphaned or with separated parents, those whose parents cannot care for them, or those whose parents cannot or will not teach these skills. But it should be community-based rather than classroom-based.

  60. I had a heavily focused academic track in high school and it was common for those in those classes to rather look down on those who took vocational or life skills classes as if they weren't going to do anything more interesting or valuable with their lives. I graduated early and no doubt would have chafed under a requirement that meant that I had to spend another year in a setting that I viewed as a stepping stone to something better.
    I did have a mom who made sure that all of us had some practice of the basics of home life in order to keep us comfortable and the sense that it was ok to not have everything that we wanted. I've learned even more now that I have my own household and I live with the necessity to manage well. Having these resources via the internet has been so helpful even though I'm also fortunate to have access to other women who can help me with some of the hands-on learning. Despite my attitude in high school, I do now have a hard time understanding the disinclination to make one's life smoother by education or work either practical or academic.
    I can sew, cook basic nutritious food, knit, preserve, clean, budget and I'm learning how to grow vegetables (step #1--teach the kids not to pull up the sprouts). None of these things are fun all of the time but I'm glad that I know how and can see how they benefit me and my family. I want to learn more skills as my babies get older and I have more windows in my day.
    I will say that I am really looking forward to this summer's fruit harvest. I processed 150 lbs of apples last fall (along with peaches and a few other things) and I am really tired of applesauce. But what else can you do when you don't want to pay $3/lb for fruit over the winter?

  61. Hi Rhonda and everyone,

    My high school was in a small town in Alberta, Canada. When I was in grade 11 (2001-2002), we had a mandatory class called CALM (Career and life management). In this class, we: had a 'partner' to act as our spouse, and a teddy bear to act as our child that we had to take absolutely everywhere for a month; got a 'salary' ($35,000 to $300,000) and, four weeks later, got an 'adjustment' to this salary (some of us got a raise, some of us got a wage cut, some of us got fired); had to make a budget for monthly expenses, buy a car (choose a car and a price from the newspaper or online, and factor in compound interest and work out what our monthly payments would be), and buy/rent a place to live. In grade 6, we had to take "Home Economics" which was cooking and sewing. This remained an optional course for grades 7 and 8. In high school (grades 9-12), we had the chance to take a class called "Food Preparation" (the resulting food was often sold in the cafeteria at lunch, after the students int he class ate some) and there was also a class of sewing and design called "Fashion". In grades 10-12, there was also a class called "Enterprise and Innovation" in which you started and ran a small business doing things like silkscreening, laser engraving, embroidery (using computer-guided machines - they were fancy! I did this, and I still have some of the sweaters I embroidered), graphic design, or signmaking.

    Some of these classes had a direct impact on my life, and some did not. I have enjoyed playing with a sewing machine since just after I graduated (spring 2003), but I still dislike cooking. I'm good at doing up a budget and sticking to it, but I'm not that great at estimating the cost of supplies for a business (my business partner and I lost money in our last year of E&I, thanks to cheaper-than-cost grad hoodies for our friends). But how much of this was because of the classes, and how much was from my parents? My mom always had a sewing machine, though she was often too busy to use it. She cooked nearly every night though not always 'from scratch' - sometimes we had soup, or Hamburger Helper, or something similar, but I can't blame her. There were two of us kids, she worked full time and was involved in some extra activities like support groups and her union, and Dad was often out of town for work. When Dad was home, he'd often be out in the backyard, trying to fix a problem or make something useful with the supplies we had on hand (I acquired this skill from him, recently fixing my husband's motorcycle with some jewelery wire I had and screwing a pallet to the wall of the shed to hold rakes and shovels).

    So while I think that it is important for schools to teach children these skills, it is equally or more important for these skills to be picked up from the community, be it immediate family, grandparents, or neigbours. It is one thing to create little scenarios in a classroom, but it is quite another to see the smile on Grandma's face when you cook her dinner, or to make it to the end of the week with some allowance money left over. That being said, I think you are right, Rhonda, that in some cases parents don't have these skills themselves, and I feel that schools can help fill those gaps.

    Thank you for this fantastic and thought-provoking post. My husband and I are not currently planning on having children, but I anxiously await the day that my brother's children (when he has them!) will come to visit their crazy Auntie and Uncle living in the woods, and I can show them how to garden, to budget, and to see the possibilities in objects in their backyards.


  62. Great article, and this topic needs to be said over and over. I remember in High School (USA) going to Home Economics class, where we learned to cook, sew, etc. This is no longer being taught in the schools. The government here will never help because they are hooked up with big business and want us to keep spending money on their products. But there is no reason why we cannot do this on our own. I fully intend to teach my two-year old grandson how to live, at each stage that he is ready. This will include how to: cook, shop carefully, clean house, sewing repairs, gardening, handyman skills (grandpa will help with this too), balance a checkbook, wise spending and saving, etc.

  63. Here in the UK its getting worse. Prices up but wages not keeping up. retirement age has risen from 60 to 67 for me. and from 65 to 67 for my DH. Very recently I have been told I need a hospital appointment yet there are no slot for months. I need treatment NOW not in several months time. Its terrible.

  64. Once again you have hammered the nail on the head!! I couldn't agree more. I'm 39 and when I was in high school we (girls only, boys did wood/metal work) did Home Economics. Apparently it is no longer taught as it is 'sexist'! The programme we followed was quite basic; cooking, meal planning and budgeting and needle work and I think your 'Life Skills' idea would be far more suitable today. However, the simple lessons I learnt back then, ie. organizing the washing-up - cleanest to dirtiest, to save on water, are a valuable asset to any family looking to lead a more frugal and sustainable life, and I'm definitely passing them on to my boys!! au revoir et à très bientôt!

  65. I agree that living skills should be a part of a child's education before they are of school leaving age. Great idea, Rhonda.

  66. The ONLY place I have seen life skills taught in schools, is in my sons special school high school. They are taught to cook, clean, how to go shopping with real money at the local shopping centre. My son is the 4th of 5 kids to go through high shcool. The others were mainstream and as far as I saw the school didn't give a damn about 'normal life,' just marks marks marks! Marks mean nothing when they are unemployed trying to live on a few dollars a week and know no better. Great blog post!

  67. Rhonda, as much as I agree with you re schools needing to teach students life skills, there are two things to keep in mind. Firstly these are skills that parents should be teaching their kids and secondly, as a retired primary (elementary school teacher) here in Australia (Queensland to be precise), curriculums are controlled by the government and so are very very slow to change (think of a 10 year cycle to change something in the curriculum, from planning stages to teacher training to implementation in the classroom). Governments are more concerned with student acedemic progress (and getting brownie points from the voters for showing increased results in the NAPLAN tests) than in teaching students life skills. Doing the latter does not "buy" votes from the voters.

    Re parents teaching their children lifeskills, most parents if working are so busy doing that (because of the economic situation) that they have little time for doing so of a night-time and then there those who say that that is the school's job.

    End result is students going out into the workforce with little knowledge of life skills. Maybe before students get Newstart or whatever the dole is called in this day and age, they need to attend classes at Centrelink to teach them lifeskills. But somehow I doubt that would happen!

  68. RIGHT ON!!! I have for a long time been teaching my children what I know so they can in turn teach their children. I strongly believe their should be no homework on weekends, especially for primary school children, as we do 'life school' This means in the vege patch, tending to our chooks and other animals. We also bake prepare for the coming school week, by having uniforms washed and ready. The list is quite endless.

    Schools seem to only be there for the education and book learning. I do appreciate what they try to achieve as I know I couldn't do this all on my own. Though they do push university and careers too much. My daughter is 11 and already worried that she doesn't know what she wants to have as her career. I will support her in what ever she chooses but in the mean time I am teaching her to become a good parent and provider by showing her by example. I've been blessed with a family that had these skills. I will endeavour to continue this blessing.

  69. Hi all,
    perhaps those who come in for the food parcels regularly and yet not come to the workshops should be shown a carrot. Some how link the workshops to the food parcels. Come and learn how to make X, Y and Z and we'll give you the ingrediants to do it at home?
    Some thing like that.

  70. Just look to a quality Montessori adolescent program and you will find life skills being taught, from sewing to knitting to farming to canning to making jams and sauces. I am fortunate to be part of such a program in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

  71. Rhonda,
    Once again you have brought up a subject close to my heart. We can each do our own little bit in our neighborhoods, but I think it is needed on a larger scale.

  72. Rhonda for PM !!

  73. So true Rhonda! If our young people are taught all of these skills when young they will automatically carry them with them for the rest of their life. The same can be said for praising little ones no matter what - they never learn to deal with disappointment and take it for granted they are good at everything! Our improving technology and new ways has done some damage to how people actuallu survive from day to day now!!

  74. My neighbour (deceased now) was in her 80's and talked about how she used to teach these very skills at the community/govt housing locations closest to her. She talked of the need to teach people basics who have never learned these things. I agree with her and with you!!! It's sad that it seems that this needs to be institutionalised, but that's better than them being lost altogether!

  75. love the idea of re-teaching fundamental skills in schools and getting the WI involved! You're right about most young families having lost a lot of clever homemaking skills which could be so helpful in times of economic pressure.

    Giving handouts of food or financial aid only helps in the short-term but helping people to help themselves can make the difference between poverty and a comfortable and sustainable lifestyle.

  76. I wholeheartedly agree with Jilly's comment. I am responsible for myself and my family, and living frugally is quite naturally an expression of this. I choose to live this way. If my choices can serve as an example to others on how to lead a rich and full life, one void of deprivation, one that will help them weather storms, all the better. For true change to take hold and flourish, repeated examples of a heart-and-soul way of life are a must. Community involvement and programs are the way to go. I am unconvinced that legislation is.


  77. Maybe it needs to be taught on TV. Cooking became trendy with the Masterchef shows etc perhaps a reality TV show for life skills along the lines of some of those classes an earlier commenter talked of that she had in her high school in Canada. Which sounded fantastic by the way! TV seems to be the only way to engage a lot of people. Though could we trust the TV Networks to get the message out!! I second Rhonda for PM..Julia in Bowen

  78. I so agree with you Rhonda and here in the USA we have a man running for office that only wants BIG business to not only survive but make billions more on the demise of the earth and the backs of the already under-privlage.
    My daughter, or friends and I have started an every other week sewing classes here and my home. I teach them how to sew and all about their machines. It is fun we have made pajamas, aprons, small coin bags with zippers and now we will be fitting patterns to ourselves to make skirts.
    I think it is up to us to teach the next generation Rhonda, our governments just do not " get it"

  79. I've seen one thing lately that really struck me as a great idea. My city's Farmer's Market has started a new token program for people who receive food stamps, for every $10 worth of food stamps they trade in at the market they get $10 in blue tokens (can be used for anything at the market) and $5 in red tokens that can only be spent on fruit and veg. The city then offers the farmers the choice of cash or a tax deduction for the red tokens at the end of the month.

    A lot of the sellers don't accept debit/credit cards so regular buyers get tokens as well and the food stamp group doesn't stand out (which is important to a lot of people). But it's a nice incentive for lower income families to keep the money in local businesses and to spend their assistance money on healthier foods and cooking instead of buying lots of processed junk food. My friend gives her little ones the red tokens to pick what they want for packed lunches, they don't always like their choices but they always feel hugely important getting to choose and pay for their own food.


  80. Sadly I think all this needs to be back in the schools because our current generation doesn't have the knowledge to pass down -- whdich is the way it should be done to begin with.

    also, if there was some way the countries could provide AFFORDABLE, safe, decent housing for everyone (even minimum wage) I think many more families would be able to make it without other assistance.

    But how do we do that?

  81. I missed this post while I was on vacation. So true. I'm fortunate that I was taught excellent homemaking skills by my mother, aunt, and an older neighbor. It's really exciting for children to see fruit growing on trees, berries on bushes, and to learn how to cook, sew, and clean house. I agree with some of the other commenters that many of the mothers don't have these skills anymore. You can't teach it unless you know it. My neighbors used to make fun of me (in Spanish,) for crocheting on my porch, washing me windows, etc...They didn't know that I speak Spanish. They referred to me as "grandma." ( I was in my early thirties at the time.) But, now, in this economy, they look a little sheepish. Meanwhile, I have a booming orchard and vegetable garden.


  82. I grew up in a home where frugality, healthy food, knitting, gardening, buying quality ect. was the order of the day, lucky me! When I was a kid and teenager in the 70´s and 80´s it was not normal to worry much about environment, consumerism ect. but my Dad was a very critical person and have tought me to not just accept the standard way of living or thinking without asking questions, and my Mom has always been very practical and showed me the way to save money, keep a houshold, use my hands to produce things and grow vegetables and a lot more. At the time I thought my parents was a little strange and really old fashioned, but over the years I have learnt to appreciate all the skills and values I have recieved at home, and I also love finding new ways to make myself independant and selfreliant, and try to show my daughter too.

    School system here does not do much to teach our kids how to balance a household economy, cook real meals, clean not using chemicals, sew, grow a garden or other useful things. Focus is mostly on skills that allows young people to move on in the education system, the rest is up to the individual to learn. So many young people here have serious problems because of the crisis, having bought expensive houses expecting property prices to keep on rising, and now facing the fact that they are insolvent since their homes are worth less than they still owe on them. Others have placed themselves hopelessly in dept to buy stuff the medias tells them they need without any thought of the long term consequenses, as if their lives and future was someone elses responsibility.

  83. I have to start cooking, from scratch, so I did not read the comments, but I wish schools still tought simple homemaking skills, like sewing and knitting and hooking and some "boys"skills too, like repairing leaks in bicycletubes. Surely a little knowledge would prevent many thrown away appliances, because of small failures. A simple way of reducing use of electricity is just not ironing everything that has been washes. Teatowels absorn=b more water when not ironed, as doe bathtowels, underwear not ironed absorbs sweat much better. Want that neat look in your chest of linen? Simply fold the towels and sit on them for a minute, for hyqiens sake always put a bathtowel on top, same with under wear or bedlinen, we always call this Geesie-ironing, because my Aunt Geesie did not like loosing time on ironing and taught us to "iron"this way. WE7


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