This is my laundry room:
Growing up, the rule was that you folded the clothes as you took them out of the dryer and placed them in the appropriate siblings’ or parents’ basket that was located right next to washer/dryer on a counter. With no counter space here and hardly room enough to turn around, I unload the laundry from the dryer into a laundry basket and haul it into my room. Usually I wait until I have a few clean loads to fold the laundry. Sometimes it takes a day or two 🙂 so we have plenty of laundry sitting in baskets. In the early evening after my kids have taken baths and are clean, we all get to work folding, sorting, and putting it away! Yes, we make fun out of this boring old chore. Does it make it take longer? Yep; but do my kids enjoy doing it and learn from it? Absolutely. So, here are the tips:
1. Be positive
The number one tip is to keep a positive vibe in the room. No one likes to feel scrutinized or that they don’t do things well enough. That is the easiest way for you to discourage your children from wanting to do the laundry. And does it really matter that my shirt or my 5 year old’s pants will have a few wrinkles because she didn’t fold it quite right? That’s what I thought. Kids are in training, its not going to be perfect.
2. Make it a game
Lighten up! Its ok, adults don’t have to be boring – we can have fun sometimes, even when doing boring things. Make doing the laundry a game! It doesn’t have to be a big deal every time, but doing chores together is one of the best times to build a good relationship with your children. Its true – working together towards a common goal is the best way to grow a positive happy relationship.
One day after being frustrated all day long that my laundry baskets were tipped over every few minutes from mischievous kids who loved to play in the clothes, I finally had all the kids come lay down on my bed. I dumped the clothes in the baskets all over them completely covering them in laundry! They LOVED it! Then it clicked – I realized that was the key to success! Let them have a moment to enjoy the magic and fun! After a short play time we timed ourselves to see how fast we could sort and fold the clothes. We had fun and we got the work done together successfully and quickly. It doesn’t have to be playing in the laundry everytime… it could be a race and winner gets to ____, or have a sock war at the end, or just work together to beat your previous time or mix up who folds who’s clothes.
3. Age appropriate assignments
My 20 month old was playing on the bed next to me as I was folding clothes. Suddenly as I picked up a piece of clothing and started to fold it I realized she was saying, “Lacey pants” or “Jackson Shirt”. She was right nearly every time. She is good at sorting and getting socks in a pile. My 3 year old’s specialties are small towels and underwear. My six and eight year olds can do most of their clothes and some of my shirts while occasionally needing a little help here or there, and I’m happy to do the rest and supervise the troop. They feel accomplished by the end.
4. Say thank you
This is my favorite part, after the laundry is done and put away, generally my kids feel good about themselves. They’ve worked hard, and deserve to feel like they have really made a difference. They have! So a big thank you and hug goes a long way! How often do you thank your kids for work they’ve done?
What do you do to motivate your children to get boring chores done or to teach them the skills of doing chores?
Not every time goes smoothly and that is ok. It can be frustrating and time consuming, but also well-worth the effort. I’d love to hear your Funawesome attempts to get your children involved in chores around the house! Do you have a “Don’t try this!” story from an unsuccessful attempt? Do share!