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Advice to my son as he graduates high school

Melissa Schmalenberger, Ms Simplicity columnist

Two weeks to go before the high school graduation for my youngest and I keep wondering if he knows some basic life skills. Yes, I am happy for him to start his next chapter. Yes, I am sad and a little overwhelmed that this fulltime parenting thing is almost over.

I have put myself out of a job.

When I read statistics that state you spend 90 percent of the time that you are ever going to spend with your child before they leave for college it makes me cringe. I really hope this statistic came from a fake news site!

But what I can't escape is the list that has been compiling in my head for the last month. Want a little look in how my brain works? It's exhausting. Here is just a sampling:

• Do your laundry before you are on your last pair of clean underwear. This is not like when you were little and tried turning them inside out and thinking they were clean. Oh, and don't forget to check your pockets before starting a load of laundry.

• Wash your sheets more than once a semester. Remember in junior high when they made you take your gym uniform home at winter break to be washed? This is not like that. Wash them every two weeks.

• Hang your wet towel up after your shower. Nothing is more gross than a moldy smelling towel. You can avoid that smell by hanging up your towel. Seriously, hang it up.

• Rinse all dishes within 30 minutes of using them. The task does not get easier the longer you wait. Oddly it becomes harder.

• Throw garbage in the garbage. Garbage does not belong on the floor or on counters.

• Pack up your room before you leave for college. As much as I love you I don't want you moving back home. You are a smart kid who will go far in life. Home is now where you visit for holidays and breaks, not where you move in after you are done with college.

• Hold the door open for people walking behind you. No matter what. It is a sign of courtesy to do this. Even smile and say, "have a great day," as you never know if it will change that person's day.

• Become involved in your college's extracurricular activities and clubs. Don't just rely on your roommate to entertain you.

• Ask your professor for help at the first sign of struggling in a class. Don't wait until the deficiencies go in the mail or you are put on academic probation. That is a little too late. Study groups are a good thing for those hard classes. And don't be afraid to ask for a tutor. Now is not the time to have too much pride.

• Ask fellow students "how are you?" and really wait to hear an answer. Depression and mental illness is a huge problem on college campuses and by asking that one question you may open the door to a life-changing conversation.

Even though I know that my full-time parenting gig is up, I also realize that I have a great relationship with my kids. As an added bonus, as they mature and grow older, their appreciation for me begins to grow, I have started to see glimpses of it.

Finally, my performance reviews are coming in! So I will take solace in the fact that I have some pretty fantastic kids and the only tears I will now shed are those of pride and joy. Oh, and remember to always put the toilet seat down, no exceptions. And replace an empty toilet paper roll. And text me daily. And Facetime me weekly ...

Ms. Simplicity, also known as Melissa Schmalenberger is a professional organizer based out of Fargo and author of "Organizing in Simplicity: Kitchens." Email her at