I can’t tonight, I’m doing laundry.
Oh, the laundry. How is it possible for such little people to generate so very much laundry? It’s bad enough the washing machine is in constant spin cycle and you’re in constant fold-and-put-away mode, but why is it that those same little people whose finger dexterity is capable of fitting star-shaped blocks into star-shaped holes can never quite get their dirty clothes INTO the laundry basket in the first place?
Iron out the kinks in your system.
First step: have one family laundry basket and put it in the washroom. Your “fancy” clothes can be separated into your own basket since yes, they require a different kind of care than the generic white/colour free-for-all stained with either food, spit-up, pee, dirt, or any lovely combination. Put the basket as close to the tub as it can get. This means they de-clothe one foot away from cleanliness on a floor that’s easy to clean, instead of exploding dirt everywhere when they whip off their clothes and drop them… wherever, and then track that dirt all over your bed, their beds, under the beds, in the closets, and basically everywhere before they finally arrive at the bath. PJ’s go in the same basket in the morning if they’re dirty; the kids are already in the bathroom to use the toilet, brush their teeth, or just, you know, ignore the fact that we actually like privacy.
Second step: re-think your washing technique. If you’re “lucky” enough to have an old top-loading washer, the second you remove a load from it is the second you start the next one. When the basin is full of soapy water, you lift the lid to freeze-dance it, so that throughout the day you can add whatever laundry your lovely family has created. This way, those stains soak instantly and for a while, so are far more likely to wash out even using cold water. As well, you can take advantage of washing during off-peak (cheaper electricity rate) hours. If you are not like us and are “unfortunate” enough to have a brand new, high efficiency, front-loading washer, we’re not certain but we’re guessing you can start the wash with a full load and then pause it to soak before it actually starts to agitate. Oh the fun laundry can be!
So now with corralling and stain-removal out of the way, on to distribution. Best way to tackle the mountains of clean clothes that end up piled on whatever mattress is available? Get your kids involved! Yes, you’ve heard that younger kids are great at sorting. And they are – they’ll think it’s a game if you make it one. But did you know that kids even as young as two can actually PUT AWAY their mini-mountain of laundry? We say mini because if you wash the bulk of the family laundry together, yup, you’ll have to spend a few extra minutes sorting, but each child will only have a handful of items every day and won’t get overwhelmed. It’s easier for a child to welcome a daily task that takes less than ten minutes compared to a marathon chore once a week. Sure, it’ll take your help at first, but two-year-olds who love playing with child-sized coat-hangers grow into three-year-olds who can actually hang their own shirts. And pants. In their own special way that gets the job done without you having to do it. Not only that, but when the children own the responsibility of putting their clothes away, they also love to claim ownership of choosing said clothes to get dressed BY THEMSELVES. So hang a rod in their closet low enough for them to reach, open tricky drawers so they can put away underwear and socks, and let them loose.
Kids are often more capable than we give them credit for at a much earlier age than we realize. Young children readily accept chores as games and love feeling important enough to have their own jobs. It’s essential to teach your children independence for their own self-confidence and it’s a total bonus that it actually helps you as well. A lot. The earlier you start the better: children whose parents do everything for them grow into teenagers who won’t do anything for themselves.
Email us or leave a comment below if you have any questions or want to let us know how this worked for you!