It’s tough getting kids to help with household chores. Tough but necessary; lest they grow up and go off into the big wide world not knowing how to wash a load of towels or wash their socks. So what can be done to encourage children to help with the washing and learn the skills they’ll need if they don’t want to rely on you/the local dry cleaners for the rest of their life?
Fun laundry baskets
One thing you can do is to buy some fun laundry baskets for them to use. Who wouldn’t want to put their dirty clothes into a space rocket, or an elephant, or a “toxic waste bin”? There are some fantastic designs available on independent shopping websites such as notonthehighstreet.com and etsy.com, but even a local high street store should have something a bit more interesting that a plain white plastic barrel.
Make doing the laundry a game
If the kids aren’t too old then you can easily turn doing the laundry into a game. Ask them to make a pile of red clothes and a pile of white clothes; ask them to find all the labels with the hand wash symbol on them; include bath toys (rubber ducks!) when you do the hand washing; ask them to hang the laundry out in the most interesting ways they can think of (jeans pegged by their knees?); see if they can make sure that all the pegs used on each item of clothing match; and when the washing is done, challenge them in a race to pair more socks together than you can. It takes a little imagination but there’s no reason that helping you with the washing means they can’t play.
Promise them that they can keep what’s in the pockets
Time and time again you remind people to empty their jeans pockets before putting them out for the wash. Time and time again they forget or don’t bother. So… promise the kids that if they do the laundry they can keep anything they find in the pockets. Not only will this make them more tempted to do the laundry, but it will also stop the washing machine from filling up with forgotten tissues and old hair clips. (Or if they still don’t want to do the laundry, then at least you can prevent the pocket problem by decreeing that if you find stuff in the pockets of clothing when it comes to the laundry then you’re keeping it!)
This could be anything from verbal praise to “brownie points” towards a bit treat. Perhaps if they do the laundry, vacuum the lounge and tidy their room then you’ll all go to see a film in the evening. The reward can be as big or as small as you like.
Make a tent
Last but certainly not least, if they help you then before laundry you can make a tent together by hanging the bed sheets that need laundering over the sofas in the living room or stringing them out in the garden. Always a winner!