Mommy’s Little Helpers

by Abby on October 4, 2013

I’ve told you all before about my laundry policy, right? If I can manage to get the clothes washed and dried, that’s good enough for me. Folding and putting them away? Eh… too time-consuming. In general this policy works fine, although our house IS always cluttered with laundry baskets that need to be awkwardly shoved into closets when people come over. And sometimes, the frantic search for the ONE clean soccer shirt right before practice does get to me.

mom slumped over laundry basketI recently read an article in Real Simple Family about getting kids to do chores. I was ashamed to recognize myself in the article — I am that mom who insists on things being done right (read: my way) versus just plain done. Yep, I’m too Type A to let a kid sort the silverware. All the forks and spoons and knives jumbled up together? What ARE we, barbarians?! I do realize that this makes more work for me, however. So I was willing to give this delegation thing a shot.

These articles always suggest you make chores into a game for kids. (I tried out an app that did just that, remember?) So I dumped out all the clean laundry into a gigantic pile, got 2 empty laundry baskets and called out with forced enthusiasm, “Hey, kids! Let’s have a laundry-folding party! Who’s in?” To my surprise, both boys shrugged, shuffled over, and said, “OK.” I think the novelty intrigued them.

The sorting part was actually kind of fun, even if it did devolve into a game of throw-underwear-in-your-brother’s-face. At least it was CLEAN underwear, right? Things got a little trickier when we moved on to folding, though. I used to work at a department store in high school – I could wield a folding board in my sleep. Even without one, I can whip a T-shirt into a neat square in seconds. My boys, however… well, let’s just say I don’t see a bright future for them at the Gap. They take after their dad in that way, I’m afraid. The guy can’t sort socks to save his life.

Anyhoo, eventually we ended up with 2 baskets of (sort of) folded laundry, which each kid then put away in his own dresser drawers. I tried to restrain myself as they recklessly mixed together short- and long-sleeved shirts and put pajamas in the same drawer as swimsuits, IF YOU CAN IMAGINE. Deep breaths…

All in all, this little exercise took up the entire afternoon. I would love to say that it taught me to loosen the reins and give the boys more responsibilities, freeing me up to eat bon-bons in front of the TV, but really it only led to me leaving baskets of sorted, folded laundry in each kid’s room. I figure I save, oh, about 5 min. a week making them put their clothes away themselves. Baby steps, people. Baby steps.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Christa Hines October 4, 2013 at 8:46 am

I can totally relate to this post, Abby. Every time I turn around, there’s another full basket of dirty clothes. I feel like I need to be renamed “the laundress” since I do laundry daily. I have no problem getting the laundry done and folded, but I hate putting it all away. Each member of the family is responsible for putting their own clothes away. I’ve started stacking my boys’ clean laundry outside their bedroom doors or on their beds and before they can go play, they have to put the clean clothes away. Usually this means they stuff their clothes into drawers where they get all wrinkly. I’ve learned to turn a blind eye to their disorder. But I have to admit that I lost it when I found that one of my sons stuffed all his clean, neatly folded clothes right back into his dirty laundry basket so he wouldn’t have to put them away!!


Abby October 4, 2013 at 8:54 am

Argh!! That would drive me nuts, too. As it does when they put a shirt they’ve only worn for an hour or so into the hamper. My youngest sometimes goes through 3 outfits a day, just because he changes his mind!


Kathy at kissing the frog October 4, 2013 at 10:04 am

Ha! This sounds like me. It is my way or the highway for most chores. Even Hubby said to me once, “Well, I just like the way you fold my shirts better. They fit into the drawer much better.” <—Yeah, right! I have started making my older boys bring down and sort their laundry into color piles (this only gets half done before they abandon the project in a pile in the middle of the laundry room). They are also supposed to put the folded clothes away, but it ends up that they usually pluck a clean outfit from the pile that stays on their dressers all week. Hey, we're trying, right?


Abby October 4, 2013 at 10:54 am

That sounds familiar, Kathy!


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