Our kids start doing their own laundry when they start middle school.
11 and 12-year-olds are perfectly capable of starting the washing machine.
Psst! They can run the dishwasher and vacuum too!
Plus, learning how to do laundry is a great way to teach kids responsibility and time management skills. If you want a clean shirt for school, then you need to plan ahead and wash and dry a load of clothes.
It’s that simple.
I did not do my own laundry until I went to college. COLLEGE! I can’t believe my mom didn’t even show me how to do laundry until then. Of course I didn’t ask to learn…I had the good life with mom doing all the work for me!
It is my observation that middle school teachers and principals spend a tremendous amount of time teaching and reinforcing to students in 6th, 7th, and 8th grade the importance of personal responsibility, accountability, and independence.
It’s hard to see why you need to go to all of that effort if mom is constantly solving all of your problems and keeping you in clean socks.
With this great responsibility comes the need for a laundry hamper in each child’s room. It’s not an actual need.
We have been sharing laundry hampers in the hallway and the bathroom just fine for years. It’s more to help the kids keep track of where their dirty clothes are located.
It’s also a little bit about keeping hope alive that the kids will keep their dirty clothes all contained in the hamper and not strewn about their bedroom floor. Everyone needs hope…and sometimes a blind eye when facing a mess!
For the hamper in my son’s room we worked with what we already owned and gave a lidded storage box a quick update to make it a sturdier laundry hamper for a tween boy’s room. We’ve had this storage box for 13 years! It came from Target and has held up great.
Here’s the before shot:
To make it even sturdier, we switched out the padded top for a wood one. We used the old lid as a template and cut out a new lid using a leftover piece of plywood.
I stained the new top and added a wood knob that we had in our stash for a handle.
When you are renovating an old house you end up with a multitude of random parts and pieces, including scrap wood. It felt good to use things we already had on hand for this project.
I also gave a fresh coat of paint to the bottom of the new and improved laundry hamper.
I had originally given it the paint-dipped treatment because the bottom of the basket was looking a little rough after a decade of use. I freshened it up with black paint because that matches his masculine bedroom a bit better.
My daughter has been doing her own laundry for three years now. My son started this summer so that he’d have more practice getting his routine down before school started.
I have found, in the beginning, it takes some gentle reminders to get my kids in the laundry mindset.
I ask questions like “Do you still have pajamas or do you need to wash a load of clothes?” I don’t typically TELL them to do laundry because that defeats the purpose of them figuring out how to plan appropriately and be responsible for their clean clothes situation.
The exception to this, until it becomes an automatic part of their routine, is in regard to bedding because my kids don’t think about bedding like they do socks. I ask them to wash their bedding at least twice a month, but I’d prefer they do it weekly.
Does everything run like clockwork around here now? Occasionally.
Are the kids’ closets and drawers perfectly organized? Never.
Do my kids sometimes wear odd clothing combinations because they are running low on clean clothes? Yes.
Will they go to college with a firm handle on knowing how to do laundry? Oh, heck yes!
We don’t have life all figured out here, but I’m happy I started this laundry milestone three years ago. My kids are gaining important life skills and it makes my job easier too!
Tell me: did or do your kids do their own laundry before they went to college?
P.S. Please note that I do not ask my kids to do MY laundry. My trust level is not that high yet. They are responsible for washing their own clothes and bedding. Occasionally, I’ll ask them to throw in a load of towels for me or they might help with folding linens as part of their chores on a particular day.
P.P.S. Target doesn’t make our particular laundry hamper/storage box any longer, but this one is similar.
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