In all my travels throughout this wonderful country, I have worked with just about every type of business, government agency, non-profit and individual imaginable. I have spoken or consulted in 46 states, in Canada, and Europe — I have seen everything! But despite the many unique circumstances of my home clients, they share similar problems.
It might surprise you to learn that one of those shared problems is dealing with their laundry. Yes, laundry. And if they have kids, moms struggle with that single, never-ending chore almost more than any other in the home.
Since I am an organizer and love to instruct people in the area of being more efficient and effective, I like to create simple ways to remember organizing solutions. When it comes to kids and laundry, here’s a simple mnemonic to help both you and your children remember the steps.
The 5-Finger Solution
Finger #1. Train your kids to do their own laundry! Wow, what a concept! As I say in my seminars, if they can walk, talk, and bathe themselves, they’re capable of doing their own laundry. Kids should be a part of the solution. A three year old can learn to sort and fold. Invest the time to train them early on and you will recoup your investment long before they are teens — when keeping up with their laundry becomes a truly frightening proposition!
Finger #2. Train your kids to hang up their bath towels. Once the towel hits the bathroom floor or dirty clothes basket, the battle is lost. Not only does this practice cut down on the cost of water and detergent, learning how to hang things up, i.e., return them to their proper place, is a critical skill to maintaining organization in every area of life.
Finger #3. Train your kids to be thoughtful. When I grew up in rural Kentucky in the 50’s, we had to boil water to pour into the bath tub, so we didn’t take a full bath or shower every day. We took what was called a spit bath. Now, I’m not suggesting you do the same, but the principle is this: be thoughtful, not frivolous, about the daily luxuries you enjoy every day. Frugality is a lost virtue on the average 21st century kid.
Finger #4. Train your kids to understand a schedule. If you have the dreaded “laundry day”, why not try breaking down the laundry by parents and kids and days of the week. Schedule Suzie to do her laundry once or twice a week on different days than Billy and mom does theirs. Doing the laundry in bite-sized loads will help your family get through this chore, and the week, more easily. Divide and conquer and keep the peace all at the same time. And for the long term, your kids will learn how to schedule their lives and interests around a required chore.
Finger #5. Train your kids to hang up clothes, not throw them down. This last step is the hardest to do, but has long-term rewards for you and for them. Many kids wear clothes once and then throw into piles or into the dirty clothes basket even when their clothes are not dirty. The lessons learned back in Fingers #2 and #3 come into play here. Not throwing down but putting things properly away is both crucial and essential to staying organized in all areas of the home and office. And learning how to be more thoughtful about how they treat their clothes can help your kids to value the virtue of being frugal with all of their stuff – in addition to saving money, time and effort with the laundry.
The Bottom Line
Obviously, these five ideas are not exhaustive. But all do center around training your children to take some responsibility in how they treat their clothes — and how they treat their mom!
Email me if I can help you with any specific problem. And if you have ideas on improving your kids and laundry experience, please share them.