On an almost daily basis I see mothers across the world lament on social media about their least favorite chore ….LAUNDRY! I see complaints about the mountains of dirty clothes, mountains of clean clothes, piles everywhere, and of course….their children not helping! And I sit back, with a smile on my face, because I used to do the same thing. But no more! Well actually….not for quite a while.
I too was tired of spending hours a day gathering, sorting, washing, drying, and folding laundry. It is a never ending, thankless job. My children did not seem to understand the hours upon hours I would spend on cleaning THEIR dirty clothes. My time was not rewarded with happy children thanking me profusely for taking care of them. No, it was repaid with clothes being dumped out of baskets onto the floor, possibly shoved in a drawer, or heaven forbid, shoved back in their dirty clothes basket because they didn’t want to bother putting it away.
One day, I was DONE! I would no longer be a slave to my family’s laundry. Mom was on STRIKE! It was time to teach them how to do their own. And HALLELUJAH! I am loving it! I seriously have hours of extra time in my day that I can devote to other things. I am not constantly yelling at my children or stressed about clothes everywhere. It has been such a relief and a breath of fresh air.
As time has gone on, and I’ve had more children and step-children, our laundry system keeps on working. I teach the younger kids how to do their laundry the summer before 2nd grade. By that time they can handle some harder chores and they can also read, which is important!
For our family, everyone having designated laundry days is really helpful. Because my step-daughters are only here half the week, and therefore less clothes at our house, they combine theirs. Everyone else has a day and then Saturday, anyone can do any extra. I usually throw towels, sheets, or an extra laundry in after the kids loads are done, if needed. We also have a designated bin in the laundry room for delicates, so I usually do all of those (it’s a very small load).
When teaching kids laundry, sorting is a huge priority. By 2nd grade, children should have a fairly good grasp on lights and darks. We keep things pretty easy most of the time by just having them do the two loads.
My younger children bring their laundry into the living room so I can help them with sorting if needed. Then, they take their laundry to the laundry room and put in a load. Using my homemade laundry detergent makes it super easy for them to measure out the right amount.
A little trick is to write on your washer and dryer with a wet-erase marker showing them where to turn the knob for what load.
While the kids are at school, if they will get their clothes sorted and their first load in, I am happy to keep it going for them throughout the day (see, I’m not a totally mean mom!) They are responsible as soon as they get home to get it put it away. No friends or screen time until they do.
I have found a huge difference in how many children treat their clothes knowing they are the ones that have to take care of them. I rarely see clean clothes in their dirty clothes bins anymore. And it really doesn’t bother me as much if I see their clothes stuffed in drawers because I didn’t spend hours folding them nicely first! HA!