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CleaningMatters logo sm May/June 2012

A Day Off from Laundry

The Ultimate Mother's Day Gift

With children come joy, laughter, surprises ... and lots of laundry. Yet no woman should have to launder her children's clothes on the day (or week!) she is being celebrated for raising them. Flowers are nice, cards are a necessity, but the best gift would be for the kids to take on that chore themselves.

Mother folding laundry while holding a childOf course, how much they can help will depend on the age of the child. Nancy Bock, Senior Vice President, Meetings & Educationn at the American Cleaning Institute®, suggests some ways that even the youngest members of the family can pitch in:

  • Sorting clothes – A child who can tell darks from lights can help with this task. Teach them that when you mix red and white, it makes pink. This is true for paint sets and for washing clothes.
  • Some children are old enough to read and understand the garment labels – Here's a variation on the game of "hot and cold." Wash clothes requiring the same water temperature together. Learn to identify which clothes need to hang dry rather than go in the dryer.
  • Measuring the detergent – Kids love playing scientist. Teach them to read the instructions on the laundry product container to determine the correct amount of laundry detergent needed. Make sure they know to wash off any detergent that may have gotten onto their hands, or wipe up any spills. Also, be sure to instruct them on properly closing containers and putting away laundry products after each use to protect pets or babies. This may require adult supervision.
  • Operating instructions – Teach kids about the buttons and dials on the washer and dryer, and how settings may vary depending on the garment labels.
  • You must be this tall – Children will need to be a certain height in order to reach into top loaders and retrieve every last wet sock and t-shirt. Then again, there are step stools!
  • Folding – Little fingers may not be as nimble as more experienced hands. The most important thing to remember is this: Effort counts. When the kids aren't looking, you may want to refold your own items that could get wrinkled in drawers. But will it really matter if their pajamas or underwear aren't perfectly crisp? We didn't think so, either.

You've taught your child to say "please" and "thank you"; you've taught your child to read. It's a gift to teach your children life skills like laundry so that they know how to care for themselves. With a little luck, and a lot of patience, this just may be a Mother's Day gift that keeps on giving.


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