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Cut the Apron Strings

When our children are little, the thought of them moving out of home seems both terrible and way too far away to think about. Before you know it the thought of your children moving out of home is not so terrible after all – and right on your doorstep!

Enter Suzanne James and Catherine Edman – sisters, and co-authors of the book “Cut the Apron Strings” – a very practical and thorough guide to help your kids set up their own homes and become independent adults.

As Suzanne points out, our lives these days are faster paced and we often forget to teach our kids basic life skills as they grow up – assuming that they just “know.” This is where the book comes in handy for both parents and teenagers, and the reason why it is now finding its way into the classrooms of several local high schools. The sisters are firm believers that learning life skills is for everyone, regardless of their academic results.

“Our book reminds parents of all those unspoken chores that we constantly do and that sometimes can be taken for granted. Life is so busy that we can sometimes forget to explain things and then just assume that our children know the “who, what, when, where and why” about everyday life skills and situations. Running a household, working, studying, paying bills, purchasing a car, house or even going on holiday is all about good time management and knowledge” says Suzanne.

Catherine says the reverse is true for teens as they near the point of moving out, “Young adults on the other hand may not understand and can take for granted all that is done around the house. Our children have better opportunities than we did when we were young, so it is so important to equip them with the knowledge needed to succeed outside the family home.”

Both sisters agree however that as parents, there comes a time when we need to take the ‘back seat’ to their children’s decision making – giving them the independence to make decisions.

Suzanne said they had received a lot of positive feedback from both parents and teenagers. “Most comments, especially from parents were ‘wow I didn’t think of that; I forgot there was so many things I do daily that my child knows nothing about,’ or ‘I didn’t realise how emotional it would be when my child moved out.’

“From our young adults who have moved out, the words ‘I miss a home cooked meal from mum,’ ‘I feel so sick and tired. I need to get to the doctor but don’t know who to see,’ ‘I can’t believe I left my tissues in my pockets. What a mess it made to the entire load of washing,’ ‘how am I going to get time to do everything’ and from another who was overwhelmed with it all, ‘oh no, now I own a vacuum cleaner, I suppose I have to grow up!’” she said.

Catherine said they tried to add some comedy to the book through the whimsical illustrations.

“When we were writing our book we knew we wanted to make our pictures comical; let’s face it, talking about life skills is not very exciting. Daniel Brennan, who is an art teacher at St Pius X High school was right on target with what we wanted. It was great working with Daniel and we were excited every time he finished each chapter, eager to see what drawings he would come up with.”

The sisters say that it’s amazing how many ideas from the book can be (and should be) introduced to our children way before they leave home. For example, many young ones getting their first part time job, the book introduces them to budgeting their finances. When we think about it, we are “Cutting the Apron Strings” in each day of our child’s life. It’s just that we really don’t think about it until the very end when they leave home and finally “Cut the Apron Strings.”

You can purchase your very own copy of Cut the Apron Strings at Dymocks at Charlestown Square, The Co-op Book Store at the Newcastle University, Q Books Beaumont Street, Hamilton and McDonald Brothers Book Store at Maitland. RRP: $14.95

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