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© Gail Underwood Parker

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Parenting Tips: the Laundry Monster

Is anybody else out there sick of doing laundry???
As a parent of up to seven kids at one time I don't compete with the Duggars or many other super-large families. BUT, for too many years I did live a life of two-three loads of laundry per day just to stay caught up. [When I got behind let's just say... it wasn't pretty!]. Some of you regular readers will remember that I gained a second family of four after my first crew was pretty much grown.  The chance to "do things over, wiser" meant some changes.  One was in laundry.  I do not have a family laundry basket except in the bathroom for towels and washcloths.  Each person has their own laundry basket.

The youngest ones help fold the bathroom laundry [towels and washcloths are an easy place to start and it makes a nice, tall, satisfying pile quickly enough to satisfy a child.

By 8 [or 3rd grade] they are responsible for helping put away their folded clothes.

By 10 [or 5th grade] they are responsible for bringing their laundry to the washer, switching their load to the drier, and must help me fold their clothes as well as put them away.

By 12 [or 7th grade] they are responsible for helping me sort, soap, and load the washer also. If they are not around when I need to do laundry for my convenience, I don't mind doing it as long as generally they are helping. [I also start teaching them to iron so that if they ever need to, they can.]

By 15 [or 10th grade] I no longer do anything about their laundry unless there is a special circumstance.

I am sure many of you do the same, probably at even earlier ages. But, I have found this works pretty well for me.  Do I ever pitch in and help them out? Yes.  I want them to learn that families pitch in when one of them needs help. That means me pitching in to help them with their stuff just as I expect them to pitch in to help me on occasion.  But, the primary responsibility for laundry shifts gradually and consciously from me to them. And... none of my boys deal with pink underwear late in youth... they've gotten past those mistakes earlier on. By the time they need to be independent, laundry is one thing that is a cinch for them, that is not a concern.

PS. On Saturday's Quick Take I will tell my results with the info commercial's  FlipnFold.

Image credits:,,


  1. What I learned from a large family, was to have designated laundry days for each person. I really like doing it that way making the child more responsible at an early age. Works best when kids are older.

  2. Wow, that's cool. Did the person do only their laundry on their day or did they do whoever needed it? Every time I tried the first, basketball or afterschool x, y or z would foul it up. When I tried the 2nd, they always sabotaged each other. How did you manage it? Spill....