Kids generate dirty laundry. And more kids generate more dirty laundry. And sometimes I think the dirty laundry goes off and generates more dirty laundry on its own! (Though socks never multiply; they don't even marry. At least in my house, the socks always stay single.)
Getting a handle on all of the laundry can be very challenging, and keeping on top of it consistently sometimes feels nearly impossible. One of the tricks I recently found that really helps tame the laundry beast is to actively engage my kids in doing the laundry together with me. Even my very young kids can get involved at different stages of our laundry process, and they usually even have some fun while they're at it. Doing the laundry together with my kids means I can get it done while still spending time with them, thus saving me precious hours in my overloaded day. It also trains them for doing their own laundry later down the road.
Did you spend some good money at Toys R Us for one of those sorting toys that teaches your kid how to sort objects by color, shape or size? Giving your young child some laundry to sort can teach the same skills in a way that makes him feel big as he does "just what Mommy (or Daddy!) is doing." My three- and five-year-old children love sorting our huge piles of laundry into neat baskets that are ready for the washing machine. Unless your laundry sorting system is highly specific and very complicated, young children are very capable of sorting darks from whites, play clothes from fancy clothes, and baby clothing from dress shirts. In addition from telling them what to put where, start your kids off by putting a few items into each basket to visually cue them.
Adding Clothes to the Washer
While not really saving you much time, you can offer to allow your children the honor of loading up the washing machine. My kids love it when I've turned on the water and added the detergent, and they can throw in the clothing in and watch the agitator swish it around. If nothing else, it provides them a few minutes of free entertainment!
Young kids are not able to fold most clothing very neatly, but they still love doing whatever you do. I give my three-year-old hand towels to fold, and the five-year-old gets the bath towels. This way they are working together with me, which they love, and learning skills which they can later build on for folding more complicated laundry and for doing other related tasks. The sense of pride and accomplishment on a child's face when looking at his own stack of neatly folded laundry is priceless.
Putting the Laundry Away
When we've finished folding all the laundry my kids become delivery men. They take hold of a pile of laundry, I give them their shipping instructions, and off they go to deliver the pile into its correct drawer or onto its correct shelf. They have a great time acting the part of the delivery man, and I have a great time watching those laundry piles disappearing!
Laundry doneâ€¦ check! Thanks, kids!