I’m a big advocate for teaching kids to do their laundry. As a busy mom of 4 it’s been a lifesaver. It started with my kids not putting away their laundry after I folded it for them. All my hard work wasn’t being appreciated. They threw clothes in their room or never got around to putting their clothes away. I warned them that if they didn’t show their appreciation they would doing it themselves. And that’s what ended up happening.
I always planned on having them do their laundry some day. I liked the idea of gradually learning those skills. But after not appreciating my efforts it was time for them to start doing their laundry. Right now my 4 year old can put away her clothes as I give her piles. She is even willing sometimes to fold her own laundry. These are great ways to ease kids into taking on that responsibility.
I don’t remember my kids ages when they started doing it on their own. The first two started at the same time. And when my third son started kindergarten I decided he was capable. I’m happy to share my tips and tricks with you.
When I first started teaching I liked to do it together for a couple of weeks. I model and would explain and then start giving them responsibility. I tell them that it’s important to empty your pockets so we don’t lose any treasures. This helps keep legoes, coins, and pokemon cards out of our washing machine. I show them how to haul their laundry down stairs and that they are responsible to make sure the whole load gets started. No one likes to find a trail of stinky socks.
You may need to have a step stool handy for your kids to reach the washing machine. They should be able to get the step stool themselves and able to put it away on their own. My two youngest sons still have to get our step stool from the pantry to put their laundry in the dryer. This is a great way to teach problem solving. You can’t reach the dryer? How do you solve the problem?
I don’t have my kids sort their clothes. And I have them do laundry weekly so the washing machine is never too full. I’ve told them they can sort their clothes when they get older. After they put their laundry in the machine machine you can show them how to work the machine. My kids love this part. You can tell they feel really grown up. Having responsibility helps build self confidence. Once a comment was made that my 9 year old does his own laundry in front of a nurse during his doctor appointment. She praised him and asked him if he could teach her 20 something brother how to do it. I could hear the pride in his voice that he has been doing his laundry on his own for years. Laundry is a life skill. Learning at an earlier age just helps me out.
Adding the soap can be the trickest part. Recently I was asked if I wanted to try Life Detergent Sheets. I was intrigued as I learned they had sheets that can be inserted into the washing machine. One of the problems with my kids doing their laundry is when they spill detergent on the floor. I’m typically barefoot and I don’t like stepping on detergent. Life Detergent is a fully dissolving sheet that is low-sudsing (perfect for our high efficiency machine) and it’s free of chemicals like benzene, phosphorus, chlorine, dye, and optical brighteners. And they cost less than pods.
What a perfect solution! Save money and save on messes in my laundry room. And my kids thought they were really cool. Yoda wanted to watch to see how it would dissolve. (Yay for keeping kids entertained without screens!) Like all cleaning supplies the packaging says to keep out of reach of children. If your child isn’t mature enough or ready for the responsibility of adding detergent on their own you may have to do this step. I can’t believe kids are messing with pods these days.
I always talk to my kids about safety when they are given a new responsibility. Knowledge empowers kids to make great choices.
Next is the task of moving the clothes to the dryer. This is a great way to teach natural consequences. If you don’t move your clothes to the dryer they might smell bad which means you need to wash them again. Often times my kids are great at putting things in the dyer but forgetting to turn it on. Part of teaching kids how to do something is giving reminders and following through.
After awhile of modeling, working together, and then watching your child complete the tasks you can know your kid is ready. Be sure to give them praise, especially in front of others. I loved telling my hubby what a great job Yoda did when he first started. His brothers would chime in ‘great job’ and I could see Yoda beam. Perfect table conversation around the dinner table.
When kids do their own laundry it really enforces natural consequences. Some days my 9 year old won’t be wearing socks. I’ll ask him why and he’ll tell me he doesn’t have any clean ones. Instead of coming to his rescue I say, ‘Bummer! Better make sure you do your laundry today.” Or maybe they just did their laundry but maybe they haven’t been diligent about putting away all their dirty clothes in the hamper. I’ll remind them to look under the bed and behold, tons of socks waiting to be washed. It’s so liberating to not be responsible for all my kids clothes! Since we are a family of 6 I have a lot on my plate already.
What if my kid is too busy to do their laundry?
Okay so my oldest isn’t a teenager yet. I know their lives can be filled with homework, sports, jobs, and school. Teaching them to use time management is a great life skill. Because guess who else is busy? And if you have a delay button use it! Sometimes when my kids have a crazy weekend filled with a scout camp out or something, I remind them about the delay button. Have them start their laundry the night before but have it start in the morning. After breakfast they can move their laundry to the dryer. I’m happy to help them by putting it on the couch to be folded and put away by them later. They can also learn to set timers on their phones or the oven to help remind them to switch out a load while they are doing homework.
Depending on your family you may need to assign a kid a laundry day. Right now mine usually do it on Saturday. I encourage them to start early in case friends come over and want to play. I usually do my own laundry and a load or two of towels during the week and my husband does his at night. Choose what works best for your family.
I hope these tips help you teach your kids about doing their own laundry. While they might not enjoy doing this chore (who does?), their confidence will grow. And it’s one more way for them to be prepared to live on their own. Plus did I LOVE not doing their laundry! It gives me more time to read, make treats, and spend time with my family. And you can find Life Detergent sheets here so you can make laundry easier for everyone.
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Disclaimer: I was given a free sample of Life Detergent but all opinions are my own. I never share things unless I think they are worthwhile.
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