Around this time every year, parents across the country are lying awake at night, thinking about how in a few months their hopeless progeny are likely to resemble extras from Les Miserables – dirty and half-starved, with knotted hair and mud-streaked clot

Yes, the CAO forms are filled out, the Leaving Cert is around the corner, and adult life is beckoning. But what can you, dear Leaving Cert student, do to ease your parents’ pain? How can you reassure them that you will not become the slattern they always feared you would become when out of their care? By following this guide, and learning how to do a few things for yourself before heading off into the great unknown.

How to work a washing machine

This one seems tricky, but it’s an absolute essential. If you’re lugging home a bag of washing every weekend, I will personally hunt you down and direct you to the nearest washer. You’re only making it harder for yourself (and your parents) by not learning how to work one of these. So take mammy or daddy aside and get them to lead you through it, step by step. A 30 degree wash is probably the best setting for doing “everything in” loads, and it saves energy too.

How to budget

Or at least how to keep track of your spending. Having my week’s allowance in cash always helped me. Being able to see how much I had left and calculating how long I’d need it for always frightened me into tightening the purse strings. However, this may not work for everyone – some people have found that seeing by the amount they had left only led to them being more careless with their spending. Find a method that works for you, be it keeping a spending diary or keeping an eye on your twenties.

Koka noodles and Spar-brand cereal do not a nutritious meal make

“But it’s so EASY,” I hear you cry. Easy, but absolutely hopeless in terms of vitamins, minerals, and any nutritional value. Seriously, the best thing you can do for yourself is learn to cook a proper meal, even if it’s just chicken and pasta. Which leads us to...

How to cook chicken

Take it from someone who didn’t know how to boil an egg before moving to college – if you can cook a chicken fillet, you can do anything. Chop it up, throw it in a pan with some heated oil, and keep an eye on it. How do you know if it’s ready to eat? A simple tester is to cut it – if the meat comes apart easily and is all white on the inside, it’s done.

Now. Who said you never learned anything by mindlessly surfing the internet? You’re now less of a hopeless case than you were before you read this article. Congratulations!