Several years ago, I taught the oldest to become a functioning, responsible member of society; to be a fabulous future husband and an exceptional roommate until that time. Would you like to know how you, too, can teach your son to become a beacon of citizenry? It’s simple. I taught him to do his own laundry. Here are six reasons why kids should learn this essential life skill.
Reason #1: It Teaches Responsibility
My number one complaint in doing laundry is that no one is ever grateful that their laundry is done, but they sure like to complain when they “have nothing to wear.” It is always my responsibility to make sure everyone has clean clothes to wear, but I have a lot of other responsibilities. This one needs to be handed over to the younger generation. They need to learn the consequences of not washing their clothes. This may lead to some strange outfits, dirty clothes worn multiple days or naked kids, but it’s worth it to teach them the responsibility of washing their own clothes.
Reason #2: It Teaches How to Take Care of and Respect One’s Belongings
My second biggest complaint in doing laundry is finding clean clothes wadded up in the dirty laundry basket – sometimes still on the hanger. Now, let’s not get crazy and think that my kids voluntarily put their dirty clothes in the laundry basket. This is only accomplished after a threat to clean their room or all electronics will be confiscated. In their rush to gain access to the iPad, they will throw the clean laundry (that they threw on the bed instead of in the drawer) into the laundry basket. Presto, room is clean, and mom has hit near epic levels of laundry frustration. Teaching them to do their own laundry stops this bit of insanity. Ultimately, your kids will realize that laundry time is much simpler and quicker if they’re not rewashing clean clothes. This will eventually lead to respecting the rest of their belongings – eventually. Well, that’s my hope.
Reason #3: It Frees Up Mom Time
Let’s be honest. I don’t have time in my life to clean house, feed children, teach multiple grade levels and do laundry for five people. Giving up some of the responsibility frees a tiny bit of time in my schedule
to hide in my closet with a big jar of Nutella and a good book for some self-care.
Reason #4: It Teaches Something They are Going to Have to Know How to Do Eventually
The oldest is heading off to college next fall. He has a lot of new experiences and learning ahead of him. Taking “learning how to do laundry” off the “essential life skills”checklist makes the transition to independent living a little easier. Now, if his baby sister could teach him how to boil water, he’ll be set. At least he can work a microwave.
Reason #5: It’s Pretty Simple
Teaching kids to do their own laundry used to be a much more challenging task. Nowadays washers and dryers have programming that looks quite similar to most electronics that your kids know how to work better than you do. The big “Play” button and the automatic sensing in most modern models take most of the guesswork out of the task. To make it even easier, I buy the Pods to use in the washer. No measuring, just toss and go.
Reason #6: It Creates a Sense of Pride and Independence
Creating a sense of pride and independence is the most important reason I teach my kids to do laundry in elementary school. My kids love being able to do “adult” jobs. It gives them a sense of pride. My son tells me that his friends are amazed that he knows how to run a washing machine. Once the kids realize that this is something that they can accomplish without an adult, they discover new things that are available for them to learn. They don’t have to be held back by “adult” jobs. They have the independence to do what they want without always having to ask for help. And, that’s pretty much my goal in parenting.