37 essential life skills for adulting

37 essential life skills for adulting

37 essential life skills for adulting

In no way does this list of 37 essential life skills for adulting cover all of the skills you need to manage as an adult in the world. It covers what I think are some of the most important life skills needed for older teenagers and young adults to get them through the basics.

As I live in Australia, this list reflects that. Most of what is included would be applicable to young adults worldwide but there are a few unique Australian life skills listed. If you think I have missed something critical feel free to add ones that you think should be on the list in the comments below for other parents to read.

Full disclosure, our adult kids would not be able to tick off every life skill on this list, so putting it together has given me plenty of homework to do! It was a great reminder that even though they are living at home still they can still be working on many of these areas and getting themselves set up for future independent living.

It is important to note that for kids to be able to grow up and be capable of doing these life skills, they need plenty of teaching and practice over the years. It is unrealistic to expect a child that has had most things done for them to all of a sudden become a capable adult on their 18th birthday without any help and guidance.

My philosophy is to have kids do for themselves what they are capable of doing. This means starting from as young as three where they can:

  • take their own breakfast dishes to the kitchen
  • empty their kinder bag and hang it up after kinder
  • put their toys away
  • put their dirty clothes in the laundry basket

As they get older you can then build from them doing tasks that focus on them and their items to helping more around the house by:

  • Setting the table
  • Dusting
  • Feeding the pets
  • Cleaning the windows

And from these type of life skills you build to more complex tasks like cooking meals and cleaning bathrooms. And it is never too late to start getting kids to do tasks around the house! In my Planned + Present e-course, I share a system that works for us in terms of allocating tasks and helping kids to do them that many families have replicated with great success. Planned + Present is currently open for registrations and you can find out more and sign up here.


I have broken down the essential life skills for adulting into some broad categories to make the list easier to navigate.

Communication and personal life skills

  1. It feels bizarre to write this but they should be able to write a personal handwritten note and be able to post it in the old school snail mail system (using stamps and correctly addressing the envelope). (Helpful resource.)
  2. Have a system to remember key family and friends’ birthdays. (Helpful resource.)
  3. Be able to make phone calls to banks, customer service centres, restaurants etc because you cannot always text everything!
  4. Know their consumer rights and guarantees and how to address them. (Helpful resource.)
  5. Know how to problem solve effectively – stay calm, break the problem down, search for solutions, etc. (Helpful resource.)
  6. Goal setting skills – how to choose a goal and work towards it. (Helpful resource.)
  7. Enrol to vote and know their local council, state and federal electorates. (Helpful resource.)

Transport life skills

  1. They should be able to read a map and follow directions without using GPS. (Helpful resource.)
  2. If they drive, they should know where to find the car manual and be able to fill the tires with air, fill the tank with petrol, put water in for the windscreen wipers and change a tire. (Helpful resource.)
  3. Know how to use public transport effectively.
  4. Be able to book flights, trains, tours etc.

Health and wellness life skills

  1. Have their own Medicare Card. (Helpful resource.)
  2. Understand private health insurance, its financial implications and how it can affect their tax status. (Helpful resource.)
  3. How to handle basic illness like cold, gastro etc. Know the basic over the counter medicines that can help. (Helpful resource.)
  4. Know how to maintain a healthy diet. (Helpful resource.)
  5. Know how to maintain an active lifestyle. (Helpful resource.)

Cleaning and household life skills

  1. Be able to do their own washing and ironing. Know what clothes can and can’t go into a dryer and what clothes need to be dry-cleaned etc. (Helpful resource.)
  2. Know how to sweep, vacuum and mop floors. (Helpful resource.)
  3. Know how to clean a bathroom. (Helpful resource.)
  4. Know how to clean the kitchen. (Helpful resource.)
  5. Know how to unclog a sink/drain. (Helpful resource.)
  6. Know how to stack and unstack a dishwasher, and how to use the different settings on the machine and know how to handwash dishes effectively. (Helpful resource.)
  7. Be able to change light bulbs and batteries in smoke detectors. (Helpful resource.)
  8. How to adjust the house power board when a fuse has blown or safety switch has been triggered. (Helpful resource.)
  9. How to use basic tools to do simple home maintenance, eg loose screws, change a tap washer. (Helpful resource.)
  10. Understand the recycling scheme for the local council area they live in. (Helpful resource.)

Money management life skills

  1. Have their own bank account and have a separate savings/emergency account they contribute to regularly. (Helpful resource.)
  2. Be able to pay bills in person and onliine (Bpay). (Helpful resource.)
  3. Be able to set up reoccurring direct debits. (Helpful resource.)
  4. Have a tax file number. (Helpful resource.)
  5. Know where their superannuation is and how to manage it. (Helpful resource.)
  6. Be able to do their own taxes and know when they are due. (Helpful resource.)
  7. Create a monthly budget and stick to it. (Helpful resource.)
  8. Be able to compare phone/internet etc plan prices. (Helpful resource.)

Cooking life skills

  1. Be able to plan, shop and cook for meals. (Helpful resource.)
  2. Understand what fruit and veggies are in season when (the key ones). (Helpful resource.)
  3. Know the essentials to have in a pantry. (Helpful resource.)

Accessing the Google Sheet for 37 essential life skills for adulting

As well as the list above, I have also created a Google Sheet with these essential life skills for adulting with the helpful resource links in checklist form that you can copy and download free here. To be able to edit and change this worksheet, you need to make a copy of the sheet first. To do that you need to:

You will need a Google account to do this. If you don’t have a Google account already you will need to sign up for one. This doesn’t mean you have to get a Gmail address. Google accounts don’t have to use Gmail addresses. A Google account is simply a unified sign-in system that gives you access to Google products, including Drive, Docs, Sheets, and Slides. You can associate any email address with a Google account. To sign up for a Google Account go here.

What life skills needed for adulting would you add to this list?

Comments 1

  1. I would add driving skills, good understanding of road rules for cars and bicycles and lots and lots of practice and experience in all weather and types of roads ( not just having a license) including the significant costs in running and maintaining a car such as registration, insurance, servicing, repairs and cleaning and budgeting for all of these. The RACV website is a good resource for estimating and budgeting for these as weekly costs for different vehicles and young people should be familiar with the RACV and be signed up as well as bike assist where appropriate.

    Knowledge and experience in using uber and Shebah for transport.

    Knowledge and experience of the public transport system not only for metro areas but for rural and regional areas. This gives them the confidence and importantly the psychological freedom that they can get around anywhere they want to go. How many teenagers know how and where they can travel in rural and regional Victoria by vline? It’s truly amazing and surprisingly easy.
    They should know how and where
    to book a vline ticket by themselves and have had practice.

    They should already be used to identifying when they need to see their GP and dentist and any specialists or allied health practitioners by themselves and be used to seeing them by themselves especially young men.

    They should learn about utility bills snd the costs involved in buying & using appliances eg cooking, heating and cooling, the energy rating system and the impact of their choices on the environment. This often comes as a huge shock to young people when they start paying for these. This should be a priority.

    Skills in sewing on buttons, small holes and taking up hems for all genders. Probably you tube or parents.

    Understanding of where to take clothing and household items they no longer use for reuse etc. Or for resale eg local buy, swap sell sites, my stuff = your stuff. And how to use these sites for buying things they need.

    Simple home maintenance snd repair skills eg lawn mowing, using a drill for young people of all genders. Probably you tube or parents.

    Understanding of home and contents insurance and how to shop around for them.

    The ability to use government comparison websites for choosing health cover, utility providers and so on.

    Experience in writing and building a great CV over time and being responsible for their ongoing professional development and lifelong learning.

    Experience in planning and budgeting for holidays and short breaks.

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