In the first part of this series, I looked at ways you can encourage your kids to help around the kitchen. Here, I’ll shift the focus to the laundry room.
While freshly laundered clothing and linens is one of the most comforting smells in a home, actually doing the laundry is not exactly exhilarating. But it’s also a life skill that every person should possess, even if they aren’t pros at folding fitted sheets (hand raised here as someone who still can’t get it right!) or leaving their drawers looking as organized as if Marie Kondo paid a visit to the house.
There are simple ways older kids can help.
Loading the washing machine and dryer
Kids can help load the washing machine with their weekly clothing, with olders kid possibly being capable (with supervision, depending on age and comfort level) of adding the detergent and setting the wash to initiate. The latest washing machines are super smart with intelligent cycles that can sense what’s inside and adjust the clean cycle as needed, even if the child selected the wrong one. With app-connected washing machines, you can also tap into the app to see the cycle and ensure they’ve done things correctly. With the latest machines, kids will love the familiar buttons and dials that make it easy to select the right cycle, such as activewear, for example, for their baseball and basketball uniforms or towels for, well, towels, then hit “start.” Once done, the kids can remove, fluff each item, and transfer to the dryer.
If you don’t have a laundry basket with separate bins for white, darks, delicates, and linens (let’s face it, even if you do, does everyone in the family really put the dirty clothing where it belongs?), sorting through is part of the process on laundry day. Kids can help with this, tasked with grabbing the simplest items, for examples, like towels. They can organize the loads as they believe they should be, you can inspect, move items around if necessary (and explain why), then get to washing.
One sorting task I always give my son with freshly laundered clothing is to pair up socks. We’ll do this in the living room while watching TV and he loves when he finds a perfect match and can fold them together and move on to the next. Turn it into a fun game for younger kids, and they’ll really enjoy participating.
Kids might not have the knack for folding shirts just yet, but they can help to fold things like face clothes, pants, and undergarments. Bring the items up to the living room or somewhere with more space where they can spread a big towel out and fold it on the floor.
With the newest dryers that can help remove wrinkles and even refresh clothing, even if they don’t do a great job and clothing gets wrinkled in the drawer, a quick steam or refresh cycle in the dryer will help. And they’ll feel good about at least trying to be part of the process.
Putting away clothes
Have your child be responsible for putting away their own clothing, including hanging items in the closet and putting folded items away in a dresser. Once I fold everything, I place the folded items back in the basket. My son takes it upstairs and puts the piles of items in their respective drawers. It’s a simple task but one that gets kids into the habit of putting things away and trying to be neat and tidy.
Every few months when my son’s drawers inevitably become messy piles of clothing that he has dug through to find the exact T-shirt or pair of socks he wants, we’ll go drawer by drawer, empty everything, and reorganize. I allow him to choose where he wants to place different items so he takes some ownership in the set-up. It doesn’t have to be a big job: tackle one drawer each week, for example. Knowing this task is a recurring one might also encourage them to be a bit neater when grabbing clothes for school each morning so they have less drawer reorganization to do come laundry day.
Get good habits started early
It’s never a bad idea to get kids started with good habits early and helping out with laundry is one place to start. While they might require assistance, it’s something you can do together. It will give kids some ownership of their own clothing, making them proud when they pull a fresh shirt or pair of pants out of the drawer knowing they played a role in keeping it clean and neatly organized.
Check out plenty of great laundry appliances at Best Buy Online.