Archive | April, 2018

Why helping with Household Chores is good for kids

30 Apr

Its dinner time and you are rushing back and forth laying the table, heating up the food, cutting the fruits, getting the bottles of water…. And then you look around and see that you are the only one busy; The kids are lazing around – watching television, reading a book completely unawares that you could do with some help. As you look at them you realize that as soon as dinner is done they will move to various corners of the house still quite oblivious of your need for a helping hand.

They look at you blankly wondering why you’ve stopped in your tracks and thats when you realise that somewhere you’ve missed out on teaching them an important life skill –  It takes every member of the home to pitch in to make household tasks less of a burden for one.

So, when is the right time to engage your bundles of joy in the day to day jobs around the house?

Toddlers as young as 3 can help in putting their toys away, throw trash in the garbage can.

At 4 and 5 years, children love helping around the house. They can match and fold socks, lay the table with unbreakable dishes and if you have plants, water them.

At 6 and 7 years encourage them to fold towels, butter the bread and put together a simple sandwich. Don’t get caught up in perfection instead praise them and allow them to take pride in their work.

At 8, 9 and 10 years, along with simple food preparations, they can also clean counter tops, put soiled clothes in the washer, replace hand towels in the bathrooms etc. Show them how things are done and step aside while they do it.

Ages 10 – 12, children now can do pretty much everything except maybe handle fire.  Allow them to choose what they’d like to do and compliment them on a job well done.

Ages 13 on – From here on doing chores isn’t what children would voluntarily jump to do. So maintain the fact that helping around the house is non negotiable. Be clear and consistent with your expectations. Posting a list on jobs around the home and who is doing what, helps in making them feel that their role is part of a larger cause.

Teens can run errands, help with the homework of their younger siblings, even put together a menu after careful consideration of the likes and dislikes of the family.

Supervise their efforts and offer to help if they need help, but do not micromanage. As the demands on their time increase from school or other activities its easy to allow their responsibilities to slide. Instead talk about how they will manage their time and which chores will still be their responsibility. Motivate them to stay on track.

Why are doing chores around the house important?

It makes children feel capable and productive which goes a long way in building a positive self concept.

It teaches them responsibility and organization skills which increase their self confidence.

They feel like a valuable contributor in the family and this instills in them a sense of belonging which helps in thinking of every member of the family as having a role to play in the smooth running of the home. Something like the family being a team.

Keeping a home clean or putting together a simple meal comes easy to them making them great room mates and self sufficient young men and women.

Of course the bigger goal here is connecting with your children while working together.

Consistency is the key when chores are assigned to children. Cleaning up, folding laundry etc aren’t very interesting activities, and so its only natural that children will resent them and not be cooperative from time to time. Patience, being assertive and modelling shared responsibility is the key to making our kids get back on track.

Its okay to delay or take away privileges if the job is not done. If necessary, hold family meetings to revise the allocation of chores. This ensures that every member of the family feels heard and this gives each one a chance to practice their problem solving skills.

If you are convinced of the importance of children doing chores, then that’s what you will communicate to your children through your interaction with them.

Although they may not be convinced with your explanations, teaching them age appropriate ways to contribute to the family will make them feel and do better in the long run.



Girl time – The Benefits of Female Friendships

23 Apr

I snuggled into bed feeling happy, fulfilled and inspired. There’s a kind of restorative magic that unfolds in our hearts and mind after an evening out with our girlfriends

They are not just our chosen family but also a necessity for our soul…. something like ‘an apple a day’ kind of recommendation.

Girlfriend get-togethers is the ‘balm’ we women need to get through the various phases in our life.

Why are girlfriends so vital for a woman’s wellbeing?

  • They tell us the truth [Not too much of it though] Just enough to get us thinking.
  • There aren’t any taboo topics while talking to them. We can talk just about anything – if things are good, they are excited for us; if not they encourage and support us in whatever we are going through.
  • Even if we don’t say anything, they can read our mind, and never fail to show us compassion.
  • They walk with us through everything – death, divorce, illness; Being each others cheer leader, offering a helping hand and reminding us of the ‘glass half full ‘.
  • They infuse in us – energy and optimism
  • They give us courage and confidence when the going gets rough and many a time are the catalyst for bringing about a change in our lives.
  • They understand when we need to vent or talk of our fluctuating hormones. In my friends eyes I am always capable of achieving my dreams – A perspective that not just inspiring but also infectious.
  • They seem to have an answer for all our confusions, whatever they may be – the right outfit for the party or where to get the best airfare deals or the best kind of investment options. Even if they didn’t know the answers they’d figure out someone who does and direct us to them, but no issue that any one of us have will go unattended.
  • They are caring and step in to offer a helping hand during troubled times.

No doubt, during certain phases in our lives, when we are desperately trying to balance the demands placed on our time, spending time with our friends take a back seat.

In the swirling confusion of activities, we neglect them, but soon learn that it is in this circle of girlfriends – women who are woven together into a fabric that encompasses acceptance and affection, that we find our real self.

As we spend hours in cafes sipping coffee and laughing spiritedly there is warmth, encouragement, empathy, intimacy and humor at the table. Each one of us is a gift to the other and collectively we are more than the sum of our parts.

Having friends is a lot about being a good friend; Making that choice to invest our time, energy, attention or love in our friends instantaneously makes us feel brighter and bouncier.

Through the years my girlfriends have been my secret keepers, collaborators, the ones who have lovingly nudged me to make incremental changes in my life.

While I’ve waded through the amazing as well as the trying experiences of life, it is  this sisterhood that reinforces what the Head of Psychiatry at the Stanford University said –

One of the best things a man could do for his health is to be married to a woman, whereas for a woman, one of the best things she could do for her health is to nurture her relationship with her girlfriends.


Fun Ideas to get your kids excited this Summer

11 Apr

With summer vacations around the corner, children are all excited and waiting in anticipation to enjoy a month without geometry or geography on their minds.

My friend Reema isn’t quite sure whether she is looking forward to the 45 long sunny days simply because she needs to figure out how she is going to keep her three young fellas occupied.

Without the proximity of extended family or traditional social support, parents are expected to be more involved with their kids which can be very exhausting

Left to themselves kids would probably sleep in late, watch TV, go out to play (if friends are in town) or loll around on the sofa whining that there is nothing to do.

No doubt the first three are perfectly fine things to be doing, but holidays can be much more satisfying if, along with enjoyment, children also get opportunities to try out new things.

‘It can be a trying task to to think of things to do everyday,’ she says ‘and there are times I’m so tempted to give in to their wishes and allow them to be on their digital devices or watch Netflix.’

Instead of giving in to these ‘digital Nannies’ which can completely take over her childs time and attention she came up with this list of activities to keep her kids busy during the vacation.

  • Her boys are full of energy and love the beach. So she has blocked off a few days to spend on the beach building sand castles, collecting shells or simply running barefoot on the sand.
  • Another activity she is excited about is going trekking as a family. Pushing together for a common goal that’s both fun and exciting can be a rewarding experience
  • City tours on foot or bicycle along with photography is also on the list.
  • Sailing on the calm waters that surround the city was something they’ve never done and would like to try.
  • The kids have made a list of activities like doodling, painting, pottery, and drama workshops that they would like to be a part of.
  • Visiting Science museums and innovation hubs to stimulate their curious minds.
  • A fortnight long vacation with their grandparents is something the kids are looking forward to. With a well drawn family tree, the kids now know of all their cousins and uncles and aunts and are enthusiastic about meeting them.
  • Collecting Board games and sports equipment like rackets and balls for the ‘lets play’ days.
  • Her younger son is an avid reader, so joining a book club or starting one seems like an exciting activity to try out.
  • Volunteering at an NGO that is working towards a cause they care about.
  • Letting them be bored on some days; so that they learn to work through boredom.

Although most of these are planned activities, she has also left some blank spaces for the impulse driven ‘Lets do this” moments.

Vacations no doubt spell ‘Free time’ but kids do better if there is some amount of structure and routine in their lives. It helps them feel secure and know what to expect.

  • Maintain a schedule for meal time and bed time for most days. It can be tempting to allow kids to sleep late or eat whenever they please – especially coz you don’t want to get into any arguments with them; but, sticking with a bit of routine helps kids to be comfortable, feel good and hence chirpy
  • Get the kids ready for the events that are planned. Snuggle into bed with them and talk to them about what to expect the following day so they look forward to it, ask questions incase they have any anxiety about the place or people they are to meet.
  • Spend time in the evenings talking about the day that was – what they enjoyed, what part of their day was the best, what they are looking forward to, the next day.
  • Coach them on expected behavior, in the airplane, in the hotel dining areas, while the tour guide is speaking. Set behavior expectations but also tell them why you set them so that kids learn to regulate their behavior.

Children have worked hard through the school year and deserve some down time to relax, recharge and refresh themselves.

Make the most of this time to connect and create memories while learning and having fun