Need help around the house? Here is some clear age appropriate guidance on how to get kids to help!

May 22,2018

As a parent it’s easy to get caught up in the daily chores necessary to get through the day. You walk around the house doing everything that needs to be done and you sometimes don’t even stop the think about it. You are on auto-pilot. I am writing this to tell you to STOP! Stop trying to be superman/woman. Stop doing it all. Trying to do everything only leads to resentment and anger…and quite frankly exhaustion.

So I ask that you engage even your smallest of children in your day to day chores. Small children as young as 3 can help!

At 3 years old, kids can help with:

  1.  Sorting laundry
  2. Putting their dirty dishes in the sink
  3. Putting their dirty clothes in the hamper
  4. Making their beds (their way)
  5. Cleaning up after themselves when they finish playing

By 4-5 years old, children can begin:

  1. Setting the table
  2. Helping with cleaning up after eating
  3. Making their beds
  4. Cleaning up after play
  5. Putting away their clean clothes in drawers and closets
  6. Learning to crack an egg and help with basic cooking (with supervision of course!)

By 6-7 years old, kids can begin helping by:

  1. Organizing a play-room
  2. Putting their clothes away after being washed
  3. Washing the dishes, drying the dishes and putting them away
  4. Basic cooking skills like cracking an egg, baking, preparing a salad.
  5. Replacing toilet paper rolls in the bathroom
  6. Picking up the trash from around the house and throwing it in the garbage
  7. Helping to put away groceries

By 8-10 years old, children can be extremely helpful

This is the beginning of “independence” that children can truly do things for themselves with guidance. (and they love to learn!)

  1. Definitely helping with cooking!
  2. Planning and packing for trips
  3. Replacing toilet paper rolls
  4. Putting away groceries
  5. Making their beds – including putting clean sheets and pillow cases on their beds.
  6. Preparing their own lunch/snack for school
  7. Setting aside their clothes for the next day and anything else they need for school. Give them a voice. Let them have some say in what they want to wear, eat (with guidance of course!), etc.

In the tween years:

  1. Teaching kids some of the basics such as cooking some meals
  2. Learning to do laundry
  3. Making a bed
  4. Helping with dishes
  5. Folding clothes
  6. Sewing a button
  7. Taking out the garbage
  8. Basic Gardening

These are just some of the many things that tweens can do!

By the time your kids reach their teens, it is important to look ahead to the future and begin thinking about the skills your child will need that are NOT taught in the classroom.

The truth is that by 18 or 19 years old many kids are living on their own and sometimes find themselves lost because their parents have done everything for them!

  1. Money Management: Make sure you begin teaching your child about money management. Consider getting them a bank account so they can save some of the money they may earn from doing jobs here and there. Money management can be a fun way to engage your child and allow them to feel like a contributing member of the family.
  2. Time Management: Teach them about time management. Help them write down short and long term goals and create a plan for how to get there. This will serve them well in all aspects of their life and will help them resist being “bored” and wasting hours and hours playing video games or scrolling through social media.
  3. Basic Chores: Make sure that chores are a priority in your house. Most responsibilities do not take much time and it is really about time management and team work. For example,on the weekends you may designate one of your kids to cook or clean up after dinner. Once your children go off on their own they really should be able to:

Before kids leave for college they should know how to: 

    • Cook some meals
    • Do laundry
    • Self-hygiene (very important!)
    • Time management skills (writing down goals and weekly to-do lists)
    • Make a bed
    • Basic cleaning skills
    • Sew a button
    • Iron a shirt
    • How to shop for groceries with a budget

These lists are by no means comprehensive, but it is meant as a preliminary guide for parents to begin thinking about all of the skills needed beyond academics to live on your own.

As parents we often want to do everything for our children. What we don’t realize is that by doing everything for them, they end up feeling like they can’t do anything for themselves.

Many parents are afraid to teach some of these skills to their kids because they fear that their kids may get hurt in the process (ie ironing), but the truth is that children are more capable than we give them credit for and can do more than you think!

I have witnessed in my practice that many times affluent families outsource many of their household responsibilities and often there are not many (if any) chores for the kids to do. There is a housekeeper, someone to clean the pool, a landscaper, etc. While often when there are two working parents this outside help is sooooo necessary,  I just want parents in this situation to pause and consider that making the extra effort to teach kids some of these skills is worth it! Any skills that a child can learn will help them in the future!

The opposite is also true, with poverty comes need and I have seen how in families with less wealth the children are taught early on that they need to help in the home with basic chores and household duties.

Regardless of your background or means, kids are kids and kids will grow up to be adults. As parents our job is to raise them to be contributing members of society, that are self-sufficient, hard-working, and kind. Helping around the house can teach all of these skills and also bring you closer.

So parents, please stop trying to do it all! Ask for a hand and enjoy the extra time that you have to share a special experience with your child instead of spending all day cleaning up alone! Trust me!

Elizabeth Vainder, M.D.

Does your child seem unmotivated? Here are some effective ways to teach them about motivation from early on.

May 15, 2018

My entire life I have tried to set high goals. My parents always made me feel as though I truly could do anything. I suppose I took for granted that everyone’s parents were the same. The truth is that sadly it is not this way at all. So many kids are going through life day by day thinking that they are destined to live the life their parents have created. It is sad really when you think about it. Who knows what talents and traits lay hidden inside of these children.

Goal Setting. Take the time to sit with your children, even as young as 5 years old, and set goals. Let your child lead in what they want those goals to be. Do not laugh or ridicule a goal even if it seems ridiculous or unreachable to you. It is important to instill in them the idea that with hard work and perseverance anything is possible.

I believe that short term goals are just us as important, or even more important,  than long term goals. The short term goals are what will bring you closer to the long term goals,  so choose them wisely. Help your children see the bigger picture but help them by coming up with a plan to get there. Write down the goals. Perhaps buy a “goal notebook” that they can keep and look at from time to time. It will keep them motivated.

  1. Explain to your child that anything that is worth attaining will not be easy. There will be setbacks and they will fail. When this happens, the focus must be on what you do after this happens. Do you chose to stop and give up on your dreams?… or do you stop and reflect on what happened and learn from it. Sometimes we need to make a mistake to learn a lesson or see something more clearly. Do not get discouraged from these setbacks. These moments are the ones that you learn from the most.
  2. Encourage your child to be proactive when they fail. If they failed a test and didn’t understand something, have them set up a meeting with the teacher to learn what they didn’t understand. It is not only about the grade. It is important to learn for the sake of learning  and to explore what you can do differently in the future. Otherwise, these mistakes and grades mean nothing.
  3. Do not allow the final grade to determine your child’s self worth or potential. Help your child go back and review how they studied and perhaps find new strategies to improve their grade on the next assessment.
    Always “talk” to your kids. Listen really….the truth is when you REALLY listen to your kids, you will learn so much about what they are thinking, what they are worrying about, etc. This pertains to small kids and teens.
  4. Listen. We all want to be heard.  When  you stop to really listen to your child, without judgement, you will see that relationship grow in ways that you could only dream of.

So, go out there and sit with your child, set goals, listen and enjoy their journey into adulthood. It is the best part of being a parent-helping your child find their true potential.

Elizabeth Vainder, M.D.

5 Effective Ways to achieve Time Management as a mom


April 10, 2018

“You will never ‘find’ time for anything. If you want time, you must make it.”
– Charles Burton

As a mom it is very important to have some form of time management or “plan” for your day. Make a list of your commitments and write them on a calendar. Write down important events, etc. Then include in there time for yourself or for something that you want to do for yourself. Write it down, and when the day comes, honor that commitment as well.

You are important and you must take care of yourself. Every week try to start things that you have been putting off. It is better to start and not finish than to never start at all. So, tackle your disorganized closet or shelf. Walk around with a garbage bag and throw anything away that is trash. Sometimes we pass our “trash” so many times we don’t even see it anymore. This exercise will help you feel accomplished.

You need to start somewhere. Have a bag or box ready every month for things to give away and then give them away. Find local charities (many will come and pick up your things) and give the things you do not use away. Encourage your children to do the same. Most of the time, kids have so many toys and books that they don’t even know where to start and truthfully don’t even know what they have anymore.

Teach them to give what they no longer use and to also take care of their things. If something is valuable and they are no longer using it, consider selling it. It is a great way for them to learn the value of a dollar and save for possibly something they want or need.

Decluttering is the first step to feeling organized. When you feel organized your mind is clearer and you are more productive. Have you been wanting to learn a new language? Have you been wanting to try a new yoga class? Make time for that too. Plan for it and put it on your schedule.

Remember YOU matter and when you take care of YOU everyone around you benefits.

-Elizabeth Vainder, M.D.