Teaching Kids Laundry Skills


Uncategorized / Wednesday, November 13th, 2013
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Ever since my oldest was very little, he has been helping me with the laundry. He would help me sort lights and darks. Play in the laundry basket. Help match up socks.

Fast forward 8 years later, and he is now running the washer and dryer, folding clothes and putting them away! But it didn’t happen overnight. It took much training, time and patience.

Now, I have 4 more laundry attendants in training. All in various levels of laundry skill.

Here is my little timeline of what a child can do based on age:

Age 2-4:
Sorting clothes into light and dark piles
Helping put wet clothes into the dryer
Helping to put dry clothes into the basket

Age 5-6:
Sorting clothes into light and dark piles
Turning clothes right-side out
Hauling clothes to the machine
Helping put wet clothes into the dryer
Helping to put dry clothes into the basket
Folding towels and facecloths
Matching and folding socks
Putting folded laundry into correct drawers

Age 7+:
Sorting clothes into light and dark piles
Turning clothes right-side out
Hauling clothes to the machine
Helping put wet clothes into the dryer
Helping to put dry clothes into the basket
Folding towels and facecloths
Matching and folding socks
Putting folded laundry into correct drawers
Hanging clothes on hangers
Adding soap to the machine
Adding a fabric sheet to the dryer
Cleaning out the lint trap
How to run the controls on the machines

Here are some tips to make weekly laundry and training go more smoothly. These are just things that work for me, and maybe they will help your family:

1. Label the drawers with the child’s name. In our family, the girls share a room, and the boys share a room. So, to help anyone who may get confused, I put the initial of the child on the inside of the top drawer.

2. Make sure each drawer is designated for the same items. For instance, the kids’ top drawer is for socks and underwear. The second drawer is their jammies. The third drawer is for shirts/sweaters. The last drawer is their pants. Now, my older children have outgrown their drawers, so we’ve started to hang their shirts and pants in their closets, using their shirt drawer for sweaters and sweatshirts. They younger set still put all clothes in their drawers.

3. Use a dot system. Have a system for socks! Oh, socks! Those little monsters! They are always driving me crazy. I have a shoebox where I keep mismatched socks in hope of one day finding its mate! But I digress… What I do is put a dot on the toe with a sharpie. One dot for the firstborn, two dots for the second child, etc. I do the same on the tags of shirts and pants. This way, when a piece of clothing is handed down, the clothing gets another dot and everyone knows which drawer to put it in.

4. Have a laundry schedule. For our family, I do my husband’s clothes and my own clothes separately from the kids. I do all towels and facecloths together, and the remaining loads are all kid clothes. I do at least one load of kid clothes a day. On good weeks, it is every other day. However, if things get crazy and we fall behind, I try to do 3 loads of laundry by 3 o’clock. After a couple of days, we are back on track.

5. Is it really dirty? Teach the kids to determine if their clothes are really dirty, or if they can be used again. Many times when we come home from Mass, I find their Sunday clothes in a rumple on the floor. They only wore it for a few hours, and there is no way it is dirty! It takes my diligence, but it’s an easy reminder to ask them if the item is really dirty. Sometimes they’ll say yes, and I ask them how it got dirty. That way, I can see if they have judged correctly.

6. Don’t get dressed until after breakfast and table chores. Again, this is what works in our family. I rather they spill something on jammies than an outfit they picked out for the day. Especially, for the younger children.

7. Teach the children to roll up their sleeves when washing their hands. Many times they get sleeves wet and have to go change up, creating more laundry. Not that the item is dirty, but they usually throw it in the hamper before I’ve noticed what happened.

What laundry tips do you have?

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