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5 Skills you need to know

There’s nothing sexier than an independent woman. Here are five skills you should know — and how to learn them.

Do you know how to cook a three-course dinner? Change a tyre? From soothing a crying baby to saving a life, here are five essential everyday skills you need to have in your repertoire.


Change a tyre

You’ve sprung a flat on a deserted road — what are you going to do? Before you answer “call NRMA”, your phone is dead and it’s out of service, too. Looks like you’re going to have to change that tyre yourself. Here’s how.

First, you need to make sure your car isn’t going to roll away. That means put the handbrake on, get it onto a flat surface and use bricks, a chunk of wood or a metal wheel chock to block the wheels at the opposite end of the car from the end that is going to be raised.

If you’ve got a scissor jack you’re about to find out why you’ve been doing all those pull-ups at the gym. Pop the jack under the side of your car and start cranking until the tyre is off the ground.

Use a screwdriver or a stick to pry the cover off your wheel, just like a paint lid. Then, find the lug nuts (there should be about five). Use the wrench (it should be in the same place as your spare wheel) to loosen the nuts by turning the bar counter clockwise.

Take the lug nuts completely off by hand and put them somewhere safe. Take the wheel in both hands and pull it towards you. Once it is off roll it to the rear of your car so it’s out of your way.

Then pop the spare tire onto your car by pushing it onto the lug bolts. Screw the lug nuts back on with your hand.

Lower the jack and get your car safely back on the ground. Remove the jack and put it near the discarded tyre. Tighten the lug nuts with the wrench, replace the hubcap (just whack it back in place with the heel of your hand or your foot).

Make sure you put the old tyre, jack and wrench back in your car. Then drive to your nearest mechanic — don’t go above 80 kilometres per hour just to be safe — to get a new tyre fitted.


Soothe a baby

You’ve been handed a newborn and it starts to do what all babies do — cry. Don’t panic — newborn crying jags are inevitable and if the wee one isn’t hungry then it’s time to show off your amazing baby-wrangling skills.

According to Dr Harvey Karp, an internationally-renowned paediatrician and author of The Happiest Baby On The Block, infants fresh out of the cozy confines of the womb crave constant holding and soothing. In fact, what that squealing newborn you’re holding is missing is the elusive “fourth trimester” — a period of around three months where they adjust to life on the outside, demanding (and needing) a serious dose of attention, comfort and food.

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So if you’re holding a crying baby and you’re sure it’s not hungry then you’re going to need to comfort it. But just what comforts a distressed newborn? Why, the sound and the feel of its mother’s womb, of course.

To calm a crying newborn you need to recreate the sensations of the womb. To make it easy, Dr Karp suggests implementing the five S’s — swaddling, swaying, shushing, side-lying and sucking. Grab that baby and swaddle it tight, pop it over your shoulder, sway like an elephant while making a shushing noise. If this isn’t enough, cradle the baby on its side in your arms and give it something to suck — a clean dummy or finger — and you should have a tear-free newborn in your arms within minutes.


Cook a three-course dinner

A three-course meal traditionally consists of an entree, a main and a dessert. Even if you’re not ready to be on the next season of MasterChef you can still whip up a stellar three-course meal in a night with a little preparation.

First off, consider the season you’re cooking in. There’s nothing more frustrating that sitting down to prepare a meal that centres on fresh peaches in the middle of winter. Not only will your produce — if you can find it — be sub-par but you’ll waste a lot of time at the market looking for items that simply aren’t going to be there.

Next, make sure each course fits together as a whole. If you’re making pasta for an entree, choose Italian flavours for your main and dessert. Don’t go popping a stir-fry or a brownie into the mix — it just won’t work and will confuse your guests.

If you’re a MasterChef fan you’ll know the importance of balancing textures and tastes on each plate. But it’s also important to balance each dish in the overall concept of the meal. Put simply, if you’ve cooked a heavy main, finish it off with a light and fresh dessert.

Once your menu is planned, make sure you read each recipe thoroughly first and make special note of preparation and cooking times. You don’t want to be making a dessert that needs to be refrigerated overnight two hours before you serve it so make sure you know what’s expected at least the day before so you’re not caught off-guard.

Finally, while a fancy, fiddly meal might look great, the best dishes come from the heart. Cook what you love to eat as you’ll enjoy the process much more and if something goes wrong you’ll at least know how to fix it.


Make a decision

Ever been paralysed by options? Sure, you might be able to have it all but you certainly can’t have it all at once. Here’s how to move on and make a decision that you won’t regret.

Making a decision one way means missing out on its alternative. While you might be determined to make the “right” decision, if you’re paralysed when it comes to making a choice it could be because you’re worried about missing out on an alternative.

According to life coach Martha Beck you need to break through the deadlock by putting aside your emotions.

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Put together a list of costs and benefits to each decision then balance it with your passion. “It’s impossible to rationally calculate opportunity costs because life is unpredictable, says Professor Beck. “Decision-making is always a gamble — people who try to decide with the mind alone, who place no fair in their heart’s desires, are doomed to stall and fuss, compare and contrast, forever insisting that just a little more knowledge will make the choice clear. It won’t,” she says.

“Are you in earnest?” asks Faust. “Seize this very minute. What you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.”


Save a life

Do you know how to keep someone alive in an emergency?

First aid training and CPR are valuable life skills everyone should know. You never know when you might need to save a choking toddler or keep a car accident victim alive.

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CPR can be life-saving first aid and increases an individual’s chance of survival if started soon after their heart has stopped beating. If no CPR is performed, that same individual will become brain dead due to lack of oxygen within three to four minutes.

While extensive training is ideal, even knowing the basics could be the difference between life and death for someone suffering from cardiac arrest. Here’s what you need to know to potentially save a life.

Before you begin CPR you need to make sure the person you intend to perform CPR on actually needs it. If they’re unconscious, unresponsive, not breathing normally and not moving then CRP should be administered as quickly as possible.

If CPR is necessary, check for danger before approaching the individual. Send for help by calling for an ambulance then open their airway by gently tilting their head back. Check for foreign matter in their mouth — if you see any roll them onto their side, open their mouth and quickly remove it.

Next, check for breathing. If the person is not breathing it’s time to start cardiac compressions. You can do this by placing the heel of one hand on the lower half of the person’s breastbone then placing your other hand on top, interlocking your fingers. Press down firmly and smoothly, compressing to 1/3 chest depth, 30 times.

After 30 compressions, open the person’s airway by tilting and lifting their chin. Close their nostrils with your finger and thumb, put your mouth over theirs, then give two full breaths. Make sure their chest is rising and falling — if it’s not, you probably have a leak so make sure you have their nostrils closed tightly and get a good seal around their mouth before you breathe again.

Repeat the cycle of two breaths to 30 compressions until help arrives.

Tell us

So there you have it — five essential skills that will make you into a confident, competent woman in no time. What are your

essential tips and skills for daily living? Share them below!

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