Monday, July 9, 2012

50 things to teach your daughters

Yesterday I was sewing, and while I sew, I think. And curse. And seam rip, and eat half a custard bun, but mostly think.

This particular day, I was considering what a monumental responsibility it is to raise up two daughters to be thriving adults, able to make their way safely and competently in the world outside our home.

And since I like both a solid set of goal posts and a good list, I started to jot down my ideas on what I want my girls to know by the time they leave home. Soon I was doing more writing than sewing, and I had a list as long as my receipt from the sewing shop. Which was, incidentally, what I was writing on.

Now, this list is just my own opinion, forged from my experiences as a daughter and a mother, a Scout and a soldier. Hopefully half the things on here will never be needed, but, then again... what kind of boring old life would that be, hey?

So here's the list:

50 things daughters should know before leaving home

How to:

1) Plan, shop and cook a week of healthy meals 

2) Choose fresh fruit and vegetables

3) Grow a vegetable and flower garden

4) Bake bread from scratch

5) Bake and ice a birthday cake

6) Cook an impressive dinner 

7) Set the table for a dinner party

8) Write thank you notes and conversational letters

9) Touch type

10) Write legibly and neatly

11) Study and take effective notes

12) Use basic spelled sign language

13) Talk confidently in public

14) Read and play music

15) Walk in heels

16) Apply makeup

17) Put together suitable outfits for a formal dinner, and business interview 

18) Balance a basic budget 

19) Understand simple and compound interest

20) Run a hard copy and computer filing system 

21) Develop and follow an exercise routine 

22) Clean a house

23) Correctly wash, dry and iron clothes

24) Mend clothes - buttons, tear and replacing zippers

25) Make a dress

26) Wash basic clothes without a machine 

27) Call the emergency services

28) Identify and use a fire extinguisher and fire blanket

29) How to signal for help in morse code, semaphore and with a flare

30) CPR and First aid

31) Drive a manual

32) Reverse and parallel park

33) Change a tire on a car and a bike

34) Check the oil and fluid in a car

35) Jump start a car

36) Use a road map and a topographical map and compass

37) Find North without a compass, by day and by night 

38) Walk a straight line in the bush or forest

39) Abseil and rock climb

40) Find and purify water 

41) Catch a fish, prepare and eat it

42) Row and sail 

43) Swim

44) Walk long distances 

45) Build a camp fire and use a flint

46) Use a mattock, shovel, hammer, drill, saw, axe and chainsaw 

47) Load, aim, fire, make safe and carry a pistol and rifle

48) Self defence

49) Fill sandbags and build a wall

50) Hold, change and feed a baby

What do you think. Did I miss anything?

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Additional images from here and here.


  1. I can do.. just over half of those. Sign language confuses me, talking in public makes me break out in hives, and I'm not good with car stuff.
    The only other thing I can think of that you haven't actually written down, but which everything else contributes to, is be confident enough in yourself that when your boyfriend/husband/whoever else tells you you're useless/stupid/worthless, you can tell him where to stick it. Though preserving food - jams, pickles, canned meats etc - might be useful too. And tasty. Except the canned meat.
    (I was surprised to see this on facebook.. becoming visible?)

    1. Visible? Nah, stuffed up ;)

      Canning is a good one, but it's one I haven't tackled myself yet, so it's kind of presumptuous to put it on the list! lol

      I totally agree with the emotional confidence one. But how to teach it? Challenging. Hopefully it just kind of rubs off? I'm glad Mr A treats me very well, hopefully the girls learn that's what they should expect, and not settle for less. Talking in public is all bluff. And possibly some rum, but mostly bluff! I reckon your excused on the car stuff. That would be like expecting me to fix a naval carrier... I don't use one, so I don't need to know!

    2. *you're. I officially hate myself now.

  2. Such an inspiring list! Maybe adding in something about how to handle relationships. Not just breakups with boyfriends or whatever, but friends too. It was hard for me losing a childhood friendship. And I want to make sure my kids are good house guests. Oh, and I don't know much about home maintanence...add how to unclog a drain, fix a leak and any toilet related ino would've been nice.
    But thanks for posting, I'm totally stealing this list!

    1. Oh, love the plumbing skills! Also change a washer and plug in a dishwasher and washing machine...

      I lost a childhood friendship too. It was devastating, actually. Do you think that's a right of passage, or avoidable?

      House guests - yep, good add. Probably how to give hospitality, too.

  3. Goodness....thats a big list...but very achievable I am sure with a fantastic mother like yourself...
    I would have added, social situations, uno, how to mingle....( cos I am hopeless at that)....and that they have to love their mummy forever, no matter what.....and dont fall for the first guy that tell you that you are beautiful and kisses you............
    oh and how to rollerskate.............backwards.... :)

    1. Mingling, that's a great skill to have! I still struggle with it on occasion, but less now I'm older and care less ;)

      They better love their mummy forever! Nothing else matters half as much. Also, definitely rollerskating. Backwards :)

  4. OM goodness ,your girls are going to be at home until they are 3o ,or is that the plan. I certainly can't do all this and I'm 56.
    I'm not sure they need to do all before they leave home ,painting and decorating may be more useful than building a wall.
    Enjoy time with your cutie pies ,the list can wait a few more years.

    hugs n stuff

    1. Oh, there's plenty of time! I could do the lot by the time I was 19, so I figured it's pretty achievable :)
      And I put in sandbagging walls in case of flood, but you're right about the decorating, too!

  5. What a great list! I couldn't find North at night, but instead of that item I might substitute "not getting lost outside at night?" No? Okay then. You'll have to teach me how to find N @ 2300hrs.

    1. It's really easy, ack-shoe-ally. Just find the southern cross and the two pointers, draw a line down the long axis of the crux and another line at right angles to the line between the pointers. Where they meet is south... And so the other way is north!

  6. PS your initial paragraph was probably the best thing I have seen written about sewing. Possibly ever.

  7. Right now I am feeling very overwhelmed. And completely useless in all situations. Thanks, Mrs A!
    ~S. ;)

    P.S. How do you sew whilst eating a custard bun? I can't eat whilst doing anything. I don't like to transfer stickiness from one item to another and I have a fear of spillage. If I can get away with it, I'll use a knife and fork. Or a spoon. For anything and everything. Doesn't your sewing get all custardy?

    1. Well, full disclosure, it's not really *while*, more like in between. I got stuck on a tricky zipper, and needed to have a break!

      You seem to be surviving quite successfully so far, I'd say just carry on!

    2. I am running blind, Mrs A! RUNNING BLIND!!

  8. Esp like nr 36. I hate it when people don't know where north is (I always have to orientate myself in a new place) AND one Must be able to read a map. Before Housewiving, I worked for five years in rural villages you could only find on a topo-sheet, the road map only went to the nearest secondary road :-D

    1. MUST be able to read a map. I didn't buy myself a GPS until I was totally confident with a compass and topo map, because I didn't want to get lazy. Then, one moonless night when I hit an empty creek bed junction dead on, across country, I reckoned I had had enough practice ;) Thing is, I still find the maps easier... I just use the GPS as backup! Expensive bloody backup.

      I love that my car has a compass in the dash :)

  9. One more thing; teach them to show loving kindness to people who are old, sick, disabled, disfigured or just plain different.

    1. Yes! Respect and tolerance for everyone! We're working on that already :) Good add!

  10. It's great to read this list...though not sure my daughter, or son, will know how to load and aim a firearm LOL. I love Nos. 1, 9, 13, 30 and 41 particularly. I guess I would add something to do with reading books and the importance of education. Also having love and respect for herself, which is a bit intangible to add to a practical list.

    1. I was pondering whether to include the weapons one, until I asked Mr A what his top skills for our girls would be. Weapons was number one... I think we might be a bit biased! Still, considering where we live and what they may end up stumbling across, I think it's an important one for our family. Having respect for a firearm and knowing how to make it safe is critical. Aiming... not so much, hopefully. But might as well go the whole hog!

    2. I love that it's just tucked away in the list so casually along with wearing heels and baking bread.

  11. How to use power tools! I wish I'd been taught, so I'd know how to make things without fear.

    Oh, and "always keep a secret stash of money". Whether it's for self-pampering, surprise gifts or what my mother called Mad Money, it's important.

    1. I taught myself! YouTube is an excellent resource ;)

  12. That is a great list. Hope you don't mind if I steal this idea - I am going to make a list for my two. My son's will be similar - but without the makeup.

    Oh and the walking in heels.

    And the making a dress.

    Ok, perhaps I should start a new one for my son!

    1. Go for it, steal away!

      For a boys list, I would add "how to be assertive without being aggressive" and leave in every single thing pertaining to housework. And if you're going to cut out dressmaking, make sure you add in mending and button sewing!