Teaching our children how to care for themselves, their people, and their spaces doesn’t have to be difficult when we think about teaching them how to do it step by step. Many of us were thrown into it when we had to figure out how to cook, clean, and care for ourselves after we left home. And so we understand the value of starting early after we ourselves were thrown into the deep end. It can help and serve us to have some of our Core Rhythms be Chore Rhythms.
The Discipline of Laundry through the Years
A discipline is, simply put, a pattern of behavior that can be applied and cultivated. The time we take to grow in different disciplines gives us grounding in those areas thus giving us the ability and time to focus efforts in other areas of our life.
In the discipline of laundry, some of us really struggle to get laundry done. We let it pile up and then get overwhelmed by the huge pile and how long it will take for us to do it. If we instead focus on the discipline of laundry and develop helpful habits, our minds can rest easy and focus on the things we really want to without facing the overwhelm later.
Needless to say, it is actually a great gift to our children to give them time and opportunity to develop their own areas of discipline. Instead of running our houses in a mindset of “I can get it done quickly and effectively all by myself”or even “I’m all alone in this,” we can realize that every chore is an opportunity for teaching that discipline.
As teachers we strive more for progress than we do for perfection and this is a really important thing to remember each time you work to instill chore disciplines in your children. Through these Chore Rhythms remember to leave your perfectionistic expectations at the door, it will serve you well and your child well if you do that. Instead, offer them structure and room to grow. Then, enjoy the rhythm together.
Chore Rhythms for the Discipline of Laundry
Often times, we want to do our chores in the nooks and crannies of our day out of the way of our families. The flip side is never doing them and that isn’t helpful to us or anyone else! So let’s see how we can grow our rhythm through the years:
This is the easiest but sometimes hardest step for us as parents, but it’s simple: Do your laundry in front of and with your babies. Don’t only do it when they are asleep or napping. I’m not saying that you can’t do any of your chores when your baby is sleeping because we all know that is impossible. When you have a newborn or infant, you need that napping time to get some important things done. But as they grow, when they can crawl and sit up and want to play, start to do your laundry and their laundry with them awake. They will see you doing it and learn that it is a part of your family’s weekly rhythm and bonus: you’ll get it done!
2-3 year olds
This is a fun age when your toddler wants to experience everything that you do, with you. They have learned that laundry is a weekly rhythm and they want to be involved. So let them be involved. Give them a few pieces of their laundry to work with as you fold the rest of their clothes. Let them try and “fold” their own clothes, encouraging them as they try to do it. It’s a really hard skill actually, so realize that it will look like they just bunched it up. But as they practice they will improve and you’ll be surprised one day when they figured out a key part of folding a shirt, like first tucking in the sleeves. Next, they can master folding it in half one way and then eventually the other. Be okay with less than perfect! Help them to understand where their clothes go and how to put them away.
4-5 year olds
They know a little of the basics of what to do with laundry after it is finished. Continue to let them be a part of folding and putting it away. Now, help them to understand more about how you gather the laundry together before you put it in the machine and let them put it in the machine themselves. When it is done in the washer, let them change it to the dryer safely. We have front loading machines so this is very easy, but I know some people have stacked machines or top loaders, so remember that safety is a priority. Use a stool and a laundry basket as an in-between step if you need to.
6-7 year olds
This is the age when our family gives the responsibility to the child to fold their batch of laundry and put it into their drawers. You may have a specific day for your child to do laundry or some other “hint” that tells the child it’s time. I’ll give you an example by telling you how we go through the rhythm:
- The child realizes they need to laundry because they have one pair of clothes left in their drawer.
- They tell me that it’s the day they need to do their laundry and gather it together to take downstairs in their designated laundry bag.
- They put it into the washing machine and tell me that it’s ready to start.
- I put the detergent in and start the machine.
- Sometimes I have them change it over or I give them a break and do it myself. I like to surprise them and do it sometimes.
- It goes through the dryer and finishes.
- I ask them to gather it back into their designated laundry bag and they take it back upstairs to fold it and put it away.
Let me note as well that I don’t put time limits on their rhythm. I sometimes let my son or daughter wait until the next day to fold it because I care more about building the discipline than crushing their spirit. If they really want to spend time playing with their siblings or other friends, enjoying a good book, or finishing an assignment then I help them remember to finish their laundry when it is a good time. I’m the reminder but they grow in the joy of responsibility.
8+ years old
After growing through the how’s, when’s, and what for’s of laundry, I teach them the final step which is adding in the detergent to the machine. Why wait until this age? It’s something that I personally build in last because it requires self-control. It’s not necessarily the easiest thing to fill a scoop only 1/3 or 1/2 of the way when you are little and I want to make sure that my child has the discernment to follow my directions and not try something “scientific” with their laundry. We actually transitioned to using a liquid detergent instead of powder because it is so easy to teach my children how to do it and it’s safe for them to use. You can find it here: Liquid Detergent
I also wait until this age because of the safety systems built into our washing machine. In order to open up the detergent slot, you first need to slide a mechanism inside the handle to the left and then pull which requires a little more effort and motor control.
I love this detergent because it’s safe for my family and the environment and it gets measured out by pumps! My kids usually have medium loads so they add 2x pumps into our detergent slot before closing it and starting the machine. This liquid detergents lasts us a long time, it has a very pleasing lavender scent, and I love that it’s safe for our skin.
As you build in a Chore Rhythm you get to see the growth and progress of your child and build in a family culture that rings true to you. Remember to celebrate progress, celebrate growth, and celebrate each other along the way!
One of my favorite things is to see the personality of my different children shining through! My son does his laundry in a very specific way:
Until next time, <3 Kate
I am a Norwex Independent Consultant, if you want more help with product tips and care check out my Facebook Group: The Good Ol’ Fashioned Clean. Request to join my group and check the box: Chore Rhythms
You can find my website here: https://katenel.norwex.biz for a safe and effective way to clean your home!