When most families think “fun,” they probably don’t think about laundry. Teaching little ones to do chores like cleaning and laundry can be daunting, especially during the early years when little ones seem to be making more messes than they could ever possibly clean up. Teaching your little one to do laundry is a worthwhile process. Involving them in the everyday care of the home and of belongings teaches responsibility, builds self-esteem, and lightens the load for you. However, setting the foundation for doing chores early in life can prepare children for these tasks while making them seem less like work. Though a toddler can’t sort, wash and fold clothes by themselves, they can learn the basics and be your washing machine wingman until they’re old enough to start doing the chore themselves. Here is the lowdown of teaching your little one laundry 101.
When Should My Little One Engage in Doing Laundry?
Little ones of all ages can be involved in the laundry process. You can teach children ages 2 or 3 how to sort by colour, which will help set the foundation for sorting clothes while doing laundry. Once children are school-aged, they can start helping with folding and putting laundry away. Though they still shouldn’t work the machines, little one’s ages 4 to 9 can help with other parts of the laundry cycle like folding and organizing. With supervision, little ones this age can also start learning about loading and unloading the machines. Once they reach age 10, little ones can start overseeing a full cycle of laundry with supervision. They’ll be mature enough to understand how the appliances work and how to use them carefully without breaking the machines or hurting themselves.
The general age breakdown for different parts of the laundry cycle is the following:
- Age 2–3: Learn how to colour code and sort
- Age 4–9: Help with folding and organizing the clothes, and loading and unloading the machines
- Age 10–12: Do laundry with supervision
- Age 13+: Be fully in charge of their own laundry
Sort Them Out!
Is sorting clothes really that important? It can be, especially if you have a new shirt that could possibly bleed onto other clothes. Even if later you teach them that they could possibly throw all their clothes in one pile, it’s important to teach them the basics of sorting so they know how to do it.
Here’s a quick list of how to sort clothes:
- Take the entire basket to the washing machine. It’s easier than having to make multiple trips.
- Put the darkest clothes in the washing machine.
- In the next wash, put the lighter clothes.
Sometimes it can be confusing to tell what is light and what is dark. Some people even sort things down to how bright and dark they are and even wash jeans separately. To keep it simple, however, just tell your child to wash anything that is mostly white together and everything else can be washed in another load.
Teach Them About the Machines
Set aside time to show your little one how to use the washing and drying machines. Though it might seem like second nature to you at this point, keep in mind that this chore is completely new to your child and might be confusing. It may help to create a cheat sheet explaining the controls and functions of each button on the machine. You can tape the sheet to the machines or leave it nearby for your kids to reference while they’re learning to do laundry.
This step all depends on your washing machine’s settings. As you know, basically everything can be washed on normal/permanent press. All they must know is to check and make sure it is set to it before they hit start. The next thing to teach them is how to add detergent and fabric softener. That’s it!
Turn A Chore into A Game
While learning to do chores, games and activities can help keep your kids engaged so they don’t even realize they’re working. There are a bunch of games you can play with your little one as the both of you do the laundry such as finding the perfect pair of socks. Turn laundry time into a game of basketball, have your little one aim for the basket or machine with clothes. You can even make this an educational game that can give your kids the basics of color-coding.