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21st Feb 2017

Apparently mums aren’t passing down these “proper” life skills to their kids

Alison Bough

Millions of kids are missing out on basic life skills because mums aren’t passing down their know-how, including cooking and how to write a letter, according to new research.

A new survey of 2,000 mums of children age two and over, has found that over half of parents don’t have the time to teach their kids basic life skills. Handwriting, washing-up, ironing, and making ‘proper’ gravy are all listed in the top 50 forgotten skills.

The survey, which was carried out by Addis Housewares, includes bad news for socks as the traditional art of darning appears to be doomed, along with how to patch trousers. Hmm, it’s certainly been quite a few years since I’ve seen anyone do either.

On average, modern mamas estimate they learned 22 skills from their own mums and use seven of them every day. Respondents to the survey said that the most important types of life skills for mums to pass down are cooking, followed by being able to look after your money, and moral values.

Eight in ten mums said that their children enjoy learning things from them, but well over half (64 %) think a lot of their know-how is no longer relevant to modern day kids.

Instead of asking their mum how to do something, one in ten kids turn to the internet for help. However, 60% of those polled said they wished they’d learnt more skills from their own mums.

The research also found that us mums aren’t passing down advice on making jam or marmalade, descaling a kettle, polishing brass and silverware or on how to make a trifle,

“Our research shows many traditional skills are not being passed down from mums to their children any more. Some skills, like darning socks, perhaps might be thought of as a little old-fashioned, but some like handwriting and sewing buttons for instance are helpful things to know.”

So, what’s leading to this loss of ‘skills’ then?

“Perhaps as the research suggests, mums are so busy working and looking after their kids – among other things – they understandably struggle to find the time to teach them what they know.”

I have to admit, based on this list, my motherly know-how appears to be significantly lacking. How about you?


  1. Darning socks
  2. Patching trousers or jeans
  3. How to darn a woollen jumper
  4. Re-heeling shoes
  5. How to polish brass and silverware
  6. How to recycle soaps
  7. Letter writing
  8. Making jam / marmalade
  9. Handwashing clothes
  10. Crocheting
  11. Making chutney
  12. Knitting
  13. How to hem a dress
  14. Sewing buttons
  15. Making a trifle
  16. Making homemade ice lollies
  17. Descaling a kettle
  18. Sewing
  19. Making a white sauce
  20. Storing winter/summer clothes away properly
  21. Making dough and pastry
  22. Handwriting
  23. How to recycle vintage furniture
  24. How to make Yorkshire puddings
  25. How to compost
  26. Making proper gravy
  27. How to skip (a rope)
  28. How to line a cake tin
  29. Making biscuits
  30. How to grow vegetables successfully
  31. Baking a cake
  32. How to spring clean a house
  33. Which season to plant seeds
  34. Fashion tips
  35. How to clean an oven
  36. What certain flowers and plants are
  37. How to landscape a garden
  38. Washing up
  39. How to get stains out of clothes
  40. Folding clothes properly
  41. Telling when fruit/veg is ripe
  42. How to wash a car
  43. How to get stains out of carpets/furniture
  44. Writing cards
  45. Applying make-up
  46. Making pancakes
  47. How to clean windows
  48. Interior decorating
  49. How to organise/sort the laundry
  50. Ironing clothes

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