Dear Dr. Renee,
I think I heard you say that your kids did their own laundry when they were 4. How do I do that?
I started my kids “helping” with laundry even before they were 4!
This is a learning process and does take time, but it is not hard and so worth it in the long run!
My daughters loved to press buttons, turn the dials for me, and help pour the detergent. We have a front loader, so they loved watching the laundry through the glass window, too – so cool!
When the clean clothes came out of the dryer, my daughters got to help by matching socks. They eventually graduated to sorting each person’s clothing into a pile that I would fold. I would explain why I folded things the way I did and why I rolled the socks together. In other words, I narrated what I was doing so that I could plant seeds for the future.
Each daughter “took a load” as they got older. Even though there were generally more colored loads, one daughter did not want to touch the ‘unmentionables.’ The other daughter was thrilled that she only had to help with one load and could care less if she had to touch the Shhhhhh! underwear.
Eventually, both girls shifted to doing their own laundry around 3rd or 4th grade. I am pretty sure this happened after they complained that none of their friends had to do their whole family’s laundry. Wanting to be a nice mom, of course, I gave them the option not to do our whole family’s laundry! The options I gave them were to continue to help with our family laundry or to do their own. They both chose to do their own laundry and have been doing it ever since. It is not always perfect, but it is one chore that I don’t have to do!
Getting your kids to help with chores is not only a huge help for you, but it also teaches them valuable life skills. Hooray for you for getting your kids started!