How I get my kids to do ALL of the laundry! 👖👚👗

My husband and I were having a discussion recently about this book he’s been reading with the youth group he runs (he’s an associate pastor). In the book, two college-age brothers discuss how they have an incredible work ethic {obviously, seeing that they are published authors at that age!}, mostly because of the fact that their parents gave them a lot of chores. While they were seeing their friends do one or two chores a week — only ONE TIME a week on weekends — they had 6-8 chores a day. 

This is what my kids have. I have had several people gently suggest that maybe they work too hard at their young ages, but I disagree.

Here are my reasons.

  1. One of my primary reasons for homeschooling was so that they would have more time to play. They have no homework, and we are very efficient in getting our schoolwork done. 45-60 minutes on housework/chores is not too much to ask when they have several HOURS of free time.
  2. I want them to understand the value of hard work. Work = reward. We do pay for chores (read more about that here), but the basic gist of it is that they earn stickers that they can trade for either money or tech time.
  3. And lastly, I want them to have basic housekeeping skills when they are on their own. My older two kids, currently 9 and 10, already know how to cook basic meals, clean bathrooms, and do laundry from start to finish — which is what we’re talking about today.

So — the laundry.

First of all, I need to say that we start doing this with our kids at age 3, and they still need a lot of help for the first year or so. If you have infants/toddlers, you are just in a different stage of life. Your kids will not do your laundry… sorry. This too shall pass. 

Here are the basic stages of our system, which has been fine-tuned over the years, but even through several moves has stayed roughly the same because it really works for us!

My recommendation for step 1 is cull the clothes. 

Figure out exactly how many of each item you think is a reasonable number, and don’t have more clothes than that. It saves time (washing extra clothes), money (buying them), space (storing them), and headache (all of the above). I use my handy Yard Sale & Clearance Shopping Spreadsheet {<– free download!!} to keep track of what I have & what I need.

Dirty clothes in the hamper the night before. 

I do not separate clothes — literally none of it, unless we have a brand-spanking-new red shirt or something. Whites, darks, delicates (ha! Just kidding, we don’t own delicates), jeans, pillows, sheets, blankets, bed pads — it all goes in together in one hamper.

In the morning, the kid-of-the-day takes the hamper downstairs. 

In our house, we have a kid of the day. That kid gets to choose movies, CDs in the car, treats if we have one — and they also get the hamper on their day. It goes down into the basement, and we start a load at 9am sharp. My 4-year-old still needs a little help starting the load, but he is getting it! I think he’ll be a pro by the time he’s 6.

Set alarms to prevent forgetting! 

I set alarms in my phone to make sure it gets started on time, and to make sure I do not forget to switch loads! I have dozens of alarms set in my phone to keep my days & weeks on track. These are my laundry alarms:

How I get my kids to do ALL of the laundry! 👖👚👗

First load at 9. Put it in the dryer and start load #2 at 10 (if we have 2 loads, which doesn’t happen every day but probably 2-3 times a week). At 11, switch load #2 to the dryer. At 4, sort it (that’s the next step 👇). Then 4:15, chore time.

Sort the laundry into easy-to-understand bins. 

Even with a relatively small laundry space in some of our homes, we were able to work out a way to have a bin for each person, plus one extra for linens.

When we had little bitty kids, the older kids would take turns folding the baby’s laundry. I also have linens assigned to one of the kids. My husband folds his own, so I am only responsible for putting my own laundry away. And let’s be honest — it’s not much. I wear my jeans several times before washing, and I wear workout clothes most days around the house. It takes me 5 minutes a week do get this done.

Have designated chore time. 

Let me tell you, in my house if an alarm doesn’t go off for it, it doesn’t get done! 4:15, my chore alarm goes off, and that’s when we get down to business. Our house goes from super peaceful rest time (in the afternoons, which ends at 4), to a busy beehive of activity. The kids all have 3-5 communal area chores (living/dining areas, bathrooms, taking out trash, etc.). Those rotate a few times a year, so the kids have something new. Then each child also has 3 personal chores to get done: clean their rooms, make their beds, and put laundry away (which includes taking the empty bin back down!)

Don’t require perfection! 

I do not make my kids actually fold the clothes. The girls have recently decided that they want to, because it makes their drawers prettier. But the boys still don’t, and that’s fine with me! As long as everything is in the proper drawer, I’m good with that.

When we are training this skill, we teach the little ones to make piles of like items, then put each pile away. Here’s a video of Finn at age 3 putting all of his laundry away:

So that’s the basic idea! 

The next day, we start over again! I do *not* do any laundry on Sundays & Fridays, so we do get a little break from it then. And of course, extra laundry gets done after vacations/travels, or while people are sick.

I’d love to hear what sort of laundry system your family has!

And also, check out my friend Jess’ AMAZING family laundry closet — it’s so cool!

Pin this on Pinterest for easy reference later!

One thought on “How I get my kids to do ALL of the laundry! 👖👚👗

  1. That sure is interesting! When me and Charlene do laundry, it’s pretty simple. Regular clothes in one pile, whites in one pile, towels in one pile, and good clothes in one pile. Each pile is washed and dried, separated from the other piles. That’s it! God bless.

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