Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Teach Your Kids to do Their Own Laundry

Six people live in my house. Four of those people are under the age of 10. Let me tell ya, that's a whole lot of laundry!! In fact, we wash, dry, fold, and put away 6-8 baskets of laundry a week - and that doesn't count sheets!

What's a mom to do about all that laundry? 

You could do it all yourself. Nah!
You could hire someone to do it for you.  Can't afford that!
Or you could teach your children to do their own laundry!! We have a winner!

My 3 year old sorts and is learning to fold his laundry.

How to teach children to do their own laundry:

1. Two year olds can learn to sort clean clothes. 

Place the basket of clean clothes on the floor. Begin a couple of piles on your bed (shirts, socks, underwear, pants or bath towels, washcloths, kitchen towels, etc.). Then have him pull out an item and ask, "Which pile does that shirt belong in?" Encourage him as he places it in the correct stack.

2. Three year olds can sort clean clothes without help, put away underwear and match socks.

After his laundry is dry, place the basket of clean clothes beside his bed. Instruct him to sort or match his clothes into stacks. By now, he shouldn't need prompting from you. He may need you to stay in the room to keep him on task. RESIST the urge to instruct him.

After sorting the basket of clothes, he can put his neat stack of underwear away and match his socks. Make sure his clothes are in drawers he can reach. Underwear and PJs in the bottom, then shirts or pants in the next drawer and so on.

3. Four year olds can learn to fold pants and shirts neatly.

Show him step-by-step how to fold pants and shirts. Have him practice with a couple while you fold the rest. Offer plenty of praise for his efforts and RESIST the urge to refold!

My 5 year old sorts, folds, and puts away her laundry w/o help.

4. Five year olds can fold and put away pants and shirts.

This is when you ask yourself, "What's my goal?" Your goal is to have less work to do. The stacks of clothes in the drawer aren't going to be perfect. His shirt will probably be wrinkled. But does it really matter? The kindergarten teacher won't think worse of you because he shirt is wrinkled!!

5. Six to seven year olds can care for their clean laundry without help.

By now he has mastered the skills of sorting, folding, and putting away clean laundry. Depending on where your dryer is located he may be able to get the laundry from there and carry the full basket to his room.

6. Eight year olds can learn to sort, wash, and dry their dirty laundry.

Teach him to sort his dirty clothes into piles on the floor. We sort by heavy clothes (jeans, pants, sweatshirts) and light weight clothes (shirts, underwear, and socks). Use whatever sorting method works for your household.

At the washer, instruct him on putting clothes in the washer, how much detergent to use, temperature settings, and other settings. Also instruct him on the settings for the dryer.

You will need to perform these lessons several times before he remembers.

7. Nine year olds can do their own laundry from beginning to end.

Congratulations! You now have less housework to do! AND when your child goes off to college he'll already know how to do his laundry.

Play and fun is still a part of laundry. - says the Lone Ranger

This system has worked great in my house! Every week my oldest takes the basket of dirty laundry from the big boys' bedroom and starts the process of doing their laundry. I don't have to do a thing!

Do you take care of all the laundry or do you train your children to care for their own laundry?

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Unknown said...

This is an absolute must! G, at just 19 months helps me put the clothes into the dryer. I hand her the wet clothes and she puts them in. Every bit helps right?!

Stephanie Kay said...

Absolutely, Candice!! Even though I could do it all much quicker by myself, I keep in mind that my goal is for my kids to eventually do it all. That will happen much sooner if I start training them at an early age.

19 months is a great age to start talking about sorting. She knows the difference between a shirt and a sock. You could have her pull out all the clean socks from the basket as you fold laundry. Make a game of it and she'll love helping you. :)

Unknown said...

I've never thought of breaking it down into the simple steps that they can do and gradually building up to the whole thing. My son (16 months) helps me close the dryer door! HAHA! Right now, My biggest goal is to keep him from throwing the folded laundry all over the living room before I get it put up! Maybe I should teach him to do some part of the laundry to distract him...

Mary Beth

Stephanie Kay said...

Mary Beth, I know how frustrating it is to have to re-fold! Toddlers can do a lot more than we give them credit for. Definitely think about how to make it a fun game for him. Either by hunting for something specific like socks or his washcloths in the laundry basket. Or you could give him a small pile of laundry to "fold" while you work. With toddlers you want them to feel useful and a part of the team. :D

Kate @ Teaching What Is Good said...

Excellent! When my oldest was 2 years old, I began looking into chores for her. I read the book '401 Ways To Get Your Children To Work At Home' and it CHANGED MY LIFE!!

Thanks for linking this up!!

Kate @ Teaching What Is Good said...

Excellent! When my oldest was 2 years old, I began looking into chores for her. I read the book '401 Ways To Get Your Children To Work At Home' and it CHANGED MY LIFE!!

Thanks for linking this up!!

kristenly said...

this is so true! it's amazing how many teenagers can't do their own laundry. or i should say don't. my daughter has been helping me with laundry as long as she could walk and follow instructions. even if it has just been as simple as helping me transfer clothes from the washer to the dryer.

Michelle @ Changed By The Maker said...

My children have helped with the laundry, parts of it, for quite a while, but this is the summer I'm committed to teaching them how to do their own! They are 9 & 7, so I know they are able, I just have to commit to teaching the skill instead of doing it for them!!! Thanks for the gentle shove!

Stephanie Kay said...

You're welcome, Michelle! My oldest boys are 7 and 9. If they can do laundry, I'm sure you kids can to. My next housework goal is to teach my oldest how to wash dishes by hand. No dishwasher in our house, and I'm tired of dishpan hands! :)

Kaye said...

Great post! My 6 year old can fold and put away his own clothes. He can also move the clothes from the washer to the dryer and turn it to the appropriate setting. This is a must to a person who married someone who, as a grown man, did not know how to do laundry. My son will not do that to another woman. =)

Becca said...

This is really good advice! My brother and I helped with laundry from an early age, and then when he was 6 or 7 he took over laundry for the whole family.

In my house now, adults have to be involved in laundry because our washer has the controls on top and is on uneven basement floor--climbing on it to reach the knobs could break off its leveling feet--and we line-dry most of our laundry on high clotheslines in the basement. But our 7-year-old likes to help put clothes into the washer and measure and add detergent. We got a folding drying rack that stands on the floor, so he can hang some items on that.

For a long time I had trouble getting him to put away his clean clothes; he would whine that it was too hard. Then we were going through his drawers taking out things he'd outgrown, and I asked HIM to decide how he wanted his drawers organized. This made a big difference!!! He was motivated to show how well his system worked by putting away his laundry. :-)

Stephanie Kay said...

Kaye, I say similar things. My hubby knew how to do laundry, iron and cook scrambled eggs when we got married. But only because his parents lived too far away for him to drive home from college and have his mom do it for him. In my mother-in-law's defense they lived overseas when my husband was growing up and "helpers" were cheap and expected. :)

Stephanie Kay said...

Becca, I hope everyone understands that these are suggested ages. Every child and family situation is different. My boys could have washed/dried much sooner but we have a top loader and they weren't tall enough to reach the clothes at the bottom. As with anything, you have to find the system that works for your family.

Liz {Learning To Juggle} said...

I really need to start working on things like this with my kids!! I've started Livvy (17 months on dusting) I hand her the rag and show her where to go, mostly its just cute but its a start right?!

Now can you write a post on teaching husbands to do laundry?!

Stephanie Kay said...

Liz, you're on your own when it comes to training husbands to do housework. I'll not publicly claim knowledge of how to do that!!

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