(One of my favorite sights to behold. Because I didn’t put those clothes there—I stop and admire every time! Aaaahhhhh, I always bask in the sight and smell. The fresh smell, it’s really swell! )
When I was in the 7th grade my family was in a terrible rollover car accident. My 24-year-old sister broke her neck and my parents had minor neck issues as well. Because of that, my mother put me in charge of the family laundry. All of it, for 4 people. She taught me how to separate clothes and to shake things really hard to get the wrinkles out. She also taught me to hang most of my clothes so that they could air dry and not have the dryer be so hard on them.
Because my children are in charge of buying their own clothes at age 12, they start washing their own clothes when they are 12.
We have found these two jobs are intertwined. When they start paying for their clothes, they suddenly have more of an interest in taking care of them. Another careful, time-consuming chore to carefully teach them initially, but such a pay day when they take that on themselves.
Some kids are really careful with their clothes because they are paying for them now, others, despite careful training, will still throw in whites with their jeans and have blue underwear because of it. In training my youngest child I remember he got to start before 12 because he would throw clean clothes in the hamper because he didn’t want to hang them up. I couldn’t wait two more months for him to take over. I had had it! So I passed the baton to him. I would have him show me his school clothes every night to make sure he had one clean outfit to wear in the morning.
Long ago, I had a friend who told me that her teenager begged and begged for a shirt at the mall, while they were shopping. The mother noticed the shirt landed on the floor for two days with the tag still on. She couldn’t believe that something that was so critical for her daughter became part of the carpet. I have remembered this from years ago because it is a perfect example of how a “crisis” or “drama” is created where your child will die if they don’t get an article of clothing, the latest video game, or have you pay for an expensive activity with their friends. We have to detach from thinking we are helping them when we enable that. You have to appreciate how much you are helping them when you turn their desire back over to them and they can sweat and squirm and wonder if it’s worth 4 hours of their working life to afford something their heart is set on. When you turn their request back to them, they can walk all over their new clothes, pay as much as they want for the latest object that they must have, or pay the 59.00 to get into Lagoon, a local amusement park, and leave as early as they want. You won’t feel the anguish of their choices as much if you aren’t paying for it.
“Do it!” I would say to my children when they would come to me wanting me to pay for something, “Create your best life! I am so glad you are learning how to afford stuff. You can do anything you put your mind to!” I would hand it back to them with a lot of encouragement and love. Sometimes they would move ahead on whatever they wanted, but most times, as they thought about it, they would change their minds. You are training them to sift through all of myriad of options we have today to pick what they can afford and let them experience something they wanted so desperately and had to have that didn’t make them as happy as they thought it would. So as you bestow these processing and laundry skills you are helping them so much! My last child, Cameron, after the initial struggle of him getting the hang of hanging up his laundry, became a champ at it. Does that mean his room was perfect? No. Somethings are a work in progress and some things they latch on to right away. I am just here at the end of my raising children in my home, to encourage you to start sharing the work load and that it is worth empowering your children to do things they can do for themselves.
What things are your children already doing for themselves at your house?