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How to get children to help with laundry

Updated on August 31, 2012
Front loading laundry machines make it easier for kids to help with the laundry.
Front loading laundry machines make it easier for kids to help with the laundry. | Source

Laundry is a never ending chore. If you are not careful it can easily become a nightmare. This is one of the reasons why it is important to teach your children to care for their clothes when they are still young. While young children are obviously not going to be doing their own laundry there are still a number of ways they can help.

Encouraging Children to Pick Up Their Own Clothes

Start your children early picking up after themselves. There are several things you can do to aid them in their efforts.

  • Provide coat hooks they can easily reach to hang their coats up when they come inside.
  • Get a laundry hamper in which they can place their dirty clothes.
  • A box, shelf or hanging system (as long as it's low enough for them to reach) will make it easier for your children to put away their shoes.
  • Also, a shelf, storage box or drawer for seasonal items like hats, gloves and umbrellas.
  • Finally, a little praise goes a long way toward encouraging your child in her efforts.

With these items in place all you need to do is follow up with your children each time they come in the house or undress at night. "Did you hang up your coat? Did you put away your shoes? Are your mittens in the box? Did you put your dirty clothes in the laundry hamper?" Eventually your children will begin to put away their clothes without the constant reminder. When they do don't forget to heap on the praise.

Teaching Children to Put Away their own Clothes

If your children are old enough to pick up their clothes, they are certainly old enough to put their clothes away. Even a two year old can put away her clothes if given explicit instructions. "Put your shirts in this drawer like this."

Obviously since you are walking her to the drawer and showing her how to put the shirts away you are not saving any time. You may be taking more time. But consider this an investment in future time savings.

By training your child when she is young and eager to help you will cut down on the time you spend putting away laundry as she will have been trained to put away her own laundry. Also, you will cut down on the fights and whining that are likely to occur when asking an older child to start helping with laundry because your child will have already developed the habit of helping.

When your child is about six, you can begin to teach her to fold laundry. Again, at first this will take more time than just doing it yourself. Just keep reminding yourself that this will save you time and fights in the future (as well as teach your child an important life skill) and persevere.

Teaching Children to Help with Laundry

It might surprise you to find that you can start a very young child helping with the laundry washing process. Obviously your child will not be providing a lot of assistance when she is little but it starts her thinking that as a member of the family she helps with laundry.

Preschoolers are learning all about their colors. That makes it a great time to have them sort laundry. You can talk about the colors your child is learning as well as explaining that it is important to separate laundry by darker and lighter colors before washing it.

At first you will be helping them more than they are helping you. Just bear in mind that this is starting them down the road to providing actual assistance. Hopefully with less fights and whining than if you started them at an older age.

Around the time your child starts elementary school you can add a new skill to your child's laundering abilities. Introduce the idea of sorting by texture after you've sorted by color. Remember to be patient as your child will not understand the textures you are looking for at first. However, when you child is ready to start doing laundry all you will have to teach her is what soaps to use.

Just one final note. I used the pronouns she and her throughout this article not because I don't think boys need to learn these skills but because I have two daughters. In actual point of fact I think all children should learn these skills. My mother told me that when she met my father she didn't know how he was surviving as he could not cook or do laundry as a young man. She didn't want that for her boys so my brothers got laundry and cooking training right along with me. Moreover, with the current trend of marrying later odds are that your sons will need these skills. Good luck!

At what age did your children begin helping with laundry?

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    • Joy M profile imageAUTHOR

      Joy M 

      5 years ago from Sumner, Washington

      I hope you have better luck with your two year old. And good luck with your older boys!

    • bookworm35 profile image

      Sheene Kirlew 

      5 years ago from Jamaica

      Great article! I wish I'd read this a long time ago. I have four ids, and my youngest is 2; none of my older kids are interested in putting away their clothes or helping with laundry. My two boys 11 and 15 both consistently leave their clothes in the bathroom, and I have to be repeatedly asking them to remove them and place them where they belong. Thanks to your information, I will now begin teaching my 2 year old to put her clothes away. Thanks!

    • Joy M profile imageAUTHOR

      Joy M 

      5 years ago from Sumner, Washington

      Thank you, CassyLu.

    • CassyLu1981 profile image

      CassyLu1981 

      5 years ago from Spring Lake, NC

      My kids love helping me with the laundry. They really like folding towels :) They don't like putting their clothes away as much but I think once we get their closets reorganized and done that will change too :) Great hub! Voted up and shared!

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