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Kids and Laundry: Teaching Children that Work can be Fun

Teach kids that work can be fun with something as simple as laundry!

The other day I was folding laundry like a mad woman. Since laundry is one of my least favorite chores so I was just trying to finish as fast as I could. But my oldest boy really wanted to help.

Did you catch that?

A child…who really WANTED…to HELP.

That should be music to a mother’s ears!

Unfortunately, his method for folding laundry looked like this: pick up a piece of clothing from one of my neatly folded piles, unfold it, wad or roll it back up, and “stack” it horizontally instead of vertically.

His help slowed my progress.

His help doubled my work.

But his help, was still help. And he had a joyful attitude about it.

A helpful, joyful attitude is not something I want to stifle! 

Kids LOVE to help clean, cook, and fold laundry when they’re young. As they get older, their attitude about chores somehow becomes less willing. Is it something innate that changes their perspective? Or does their perspective change because they see our attitude about work?  

I don’t know the answer, but I do think that we should let our children help us with everyday activities while they’re willing, even if it means more work for us in the end. It’s a way to spend TIME with our children and we can use that time to have fun with them. We can make up stories about what the clothing did in the washing machine. We can count the designs on clothing items to teach basic concepts about math. We can show them that work can be fun, work is fulfilling, and work doesn’t have to be “work.”

The right attitude - the one kids have when they’re young - changes the perspective of work. It makes te “ugh, it’s Monday” or “yay, it’s Friday!” mentality a non-issue. The right attitude gives work a whole new meaning.

By working together on something as simple as laundry, we can plant a seed in our kids that they’ll carry with them for a lifetime.

What tips do you have for instilling a good work ethic in your children?

  • Ane January 27, 2013, 11:02 am

    Great post! I try to do this too, and it is an enjoyable way of spending time with my son, while also getting a few things done in the house. Today my four-year-old helped me with the laundry (loading and unloading the washing machine) and cleaning the kitchen floor. Mostly, he just splashed water around, but he was focused and really enjoyed himself. Perhaps the most important thing to remember when letting toddlers help with housework is to not correct them all the time, but just hope that they will eventually pick things up by watching what you do, like you did with your child’s folding method.

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  • Cindy H January 31, 2013, 2:29 pm

    It is a great post.
    I totally agree.
    Years ago when my daughter helped me clean the bathroom sink, she caught me re-cleaning.
    I never forgot that. It made me realize that exactly how they clean is good enough.
    What’s the worst that could happen. I get arrested by the clean police.
    At any rate, I’ve always remembered that if children are willing (and happy) to help, who cares if it’s not the way we do it, clean it, fold it, or cook it. It’s getting done.
    Self esteem is reward enough.

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