Creative Commons/Kevin M. Gill

Single Mom Slice Of Life:
Dear God.. Are They Ready For The Real World?

In a shocking turn of events, despite the fact that I cannot keep a plastic plant alive, I have somehow managed to get a kid to 17-years-old.  In eight months he will be (heaven help us all) a legal adult.  Is he ready to go out into the world?  Would the world survive any better than his poor bedroom has? More importantly, will he understand that things do not magically happen?  Do he and his brother know the basic difference between a want and a need?

I can say, with only slightly shaky confidence, yes… yes they do. Maybe. I hope. Granted, as boys, they are a constant work in progress, however, looking back over the last (gulp) 17 years, I have done what I can to make sure they understand, appreciate, and practice accountability –for themselves, and their belongings.


Creative Commons/opensourceway

This was actually a hand-me-down lesson from a great friend and amazing mom.  It worked though, and we still use it to this day.  I had worn myself out begging for homework and chores to get done.  In the end, my friend’s solution was a huge help.  Their work is their homework and 2 chores a piece.  Their paycheck was the rest of the night for themselves.

HOW IT BENEFITS THEM: The longer they take dragging their feet, complaining about their chore, or trying to find a way out of it, the less time they had to do whatever they wanted to do.  Instead of focusing on what they HAD to do, suddenly that was a mere afterthought to what they were going to GET to do.

HOW IT BENEFITS ME:  A whole lot fewer lectures… a lot less yelling… a lot less complaining.

Read more:  Single Mom Slice Of Life: Teaching Our Children How To Fall


Creative Commons/foreverylife

The boys would like to have IPhones and flying cars… and glow in the dark toilet paper… but I digress.  This is not to say my kids don’t have cell phones, they do, but they’re the pay as you go kind.  The first month, they blew through their allotted minutes in record time and in doing so had phone shaped paper weights.  In time, they learned that just because they were out of minutes didn’t mean I had the money to automatically refill it.

HOW IT BENEFITS THEM: Restraint was a lesson hard won. Amazingly, they learned rather quickly what was an emergency (Mom, I’m locked out of the house) and what is not important (Mom, do watermelon flavored popsicles count as part of my daily fruit intake?).

HOW IT BENEFITS ME: I do not have to fight my kids’ friends for time with my kids while we’re home.  Actual conversations are held face to face instead of via text from another room.

Read more: Single Mom Slice Of Life: Oprah’s Lesson To Me; I AM Good Enough!


Creative Commons/monkeyworks illustration

Part of why the boys are not picky eaters is that am too lazy and poor (mostly lazy) to make three different dinners a night, and part of it is they have always had an active input into what the meal plans are for the week.  If they were willing to ask for the dinners, they were going to have to help make it… and not eat it in 3 seconds flat.  Granted, this means that we cook a lot more baked ziti and chicken enchiladas than I care for, but hey, if they’re willing to help cook it…

HOW IT BENEFITS THEM: They appreciate what goes into what they want… even if it means cutting up potatoes, grating cheese, or boiling chicken.  Oh yeah, and they’ve learned how to cook.

HOW IT BENEFITS ME: Please, if they know how to cook, the chances of them moving away from home jump greatly in my favor.  Seriously though, they’ve learned to appreciate the trips to the grocery store, the clean up, and the time involved in making dinner ‘magically’ appear.

Read more:  Single Mom Slice Of Life: What I Learned From My Facebook Fast


Creative Commons/jennybalase

Long ago to cut down on the amount of “worst day ever” complaints, I started asking what they had done to help someone else through the day.  It took a bit, but they eventually started telling me the good they had seen instead of the bad they felt they suffered through each day.

HOW IT BENEFITS THEM:  They have learned that there are other people in the world, and that their actions have repercussions – both good and bad.  The boys have both now have the automatic instinct to reach out, help, and ask if someone needs help, putting themselves second behind someone who needs a boost.

HOW IT BENEFITS ME:  One day, they’ll remember to put me in the good kind of nursing home that has cinnamon in the applesauce.

Read more:  Single Mom Slice of Life: Welcome Back, Boys; I Hardly Knew Ye


Again, this is not to say I have perfect kids… far from it.  They will still walk over a dirty sock for three days before I lose my mind and beg for them to pick it up, and they can only seem to hear me talking when I’m standing directly in front of them, but in the grand scheme of things, the world has a fighting chance once they are on their own.

In what ways have you helped prepare your kids for life outside of home?

More from GEM:

Good Enough Mother Inspiration: VISUALIZE!

Tandem Tantrums: Parenting Wins And Losses

Our Story Begins: How Would YOU Do It?


Wendy Syler Woodward has been a single parent for 10 years, with two boys ages 12 and 16. Originally from southern California, Wendy moved her family seven years ago to Phoenix where she manages a law firm for work, writes for fun, and this year returned to college for her B.A. Follow her on Twitter @WendySyler.