Parenting pulls you in a dozen directions at once.
Between the nitty-gritty labor of keeping kids alive and thriving, the daily struggle to help them grow up as good citizens, and the churn of school and sports and quality family time, certain things can get — well, lost.
Boring, basic life skills, like tying your shoes, easily fall by the wayside when everyone’s trying to efficiently navigate a busy life. It feels much easier to quickly tie the kid’s shoe yourself instead of beginning a 10-minute shoelace clinic that won’t really get them much closer to learning the skill for themselves.
That’s why some ingenious moms shared “How To Be A Person,” an at-home “camp” that introduces kids to the basics of living. And makes it fun, too! With winter break coming up, it’s the perfect time to put a set of activities like this together.
Kaitlyn Rowe, mom of four, attracted attention earlier this year for the “How To Be A Person” ideas on her Instagram page. But she readily credits another mom, Emily Ley, for the initial spark.
Ley devised her “camp” during the first summer of COVID-19, in 2020, with three kids stuck at home. Ley created a list of various household and personal-care tasks, with some earmarked for big kids and others for her middle and little ones. (She’s careful to note that the bigger kids need to show that they can do the easier items, though!)
Just to add a little more learning to the “camp,” Ley took time to delve into the reasons why each task is important.
“We watched YouTube videos from dentists about HOW to properly brush your teeth,” Ley wrote on Substack. “We learned about what social security numbers are and why we need to memorize them. We practiced cracking eggs on the side of a bowl until we got the feel for it (and then made a LOT of scrambled eggs).”
Inspired by Ley’s 2020 post, Kaitlyn Rowe devised her own “How to Be a Person” activity list with input from her kids of varying ages. Her Instagram post of the family list went viral, snagging more than 64,000 likes. It included such tasks as “How to write a thank you note,” ” How to pack a lunch,” “How to politely order at a restaurant,” and “How to separate what is recycled.”
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“We had a lot of fun with the camp over the summer,” Rowe told Simplemost in an email. “It’s an ongoing learning process of course, but having the goals/lists definitely helped my kids and we had a lot of fun with it and we ‘checked off’ every item we had together! We plan on doing something similar every summer now because it was such a success in our house. Things they want to work on/learn and think of on their own, and anything I can think of to add to it as well as they get older.”
Rowe told “Good Morning America” she liked the idea of keeping her lists “child-led.”
“Because then if it turns into like this big homework checklist, I don’t think that would be fun for them,” she said.
Speaking of fun, Ley agrees this is an essential component of “How To Be A Person.” There’s room for a little whimsy among the fingernail-clipping lessons and toilet-cleaning tutorials — like learning how to perform a certain wedding-reception dance favorite.
“I was an adult when I learned how to do the Electric Slide, and I can’t tell you how many weddings I went to and was like, ‘I don’t know how to do this, I’m gonna stand over here,’” Ley told GMA. “Before you’re a grown-up you’ve got to know how to do the Electric Slide … Now I feel like they’re prepared for adulthood.”