Monday is typically laundry day at our house and today our dryer is suddenly, inexplicably broken. Ugh. It will dry for 11 minutes and then can't be bothered to finish the job and gives up. While I can certainly commiserate with that inclination, it's pretty inconvenient in a dryer. Anyway, I've got laundry on the brain (and everywhere else, for that matter) so let's talk laundering and the mid-stage family.
I think laundry is a life skill everyone should learn. One professor friend related the following question that was asked of her by some parents dropping of their freshman at college: "Who does his laundry and when do they come pick it up from him? Weekly? Bi-weekly?" Um, your 18-year-old young adult does, as often as he wants in the basement laundry room. Leave him some quarters if you want.
Having said that, though, I have to admit that in practice I do most of the laundry around here. We do teach our kids how to do their own by around age 12 but, truth is, I don't really mind it and it makes more environmental sense for the four of us to do our clothes all at once since that way, after sorting for color, I end up doing just about five loads a week (whites, lights, brights, and two loads of darks) not counting sheets and towels. [I know it's a completely different story for families with more kids, more sports playing, or if kids don't wear uniforms to school (somehow that's cut down immensely on laundry).]
But I do have my limits. Here are my iron-clad laundry rules:
- I don't pick up clothes from the floor (which, after all, amounts to more work and essentially means cleaning their bedrooms) so I only do laundry that is in the dirty clothes basket.
- If you end up doing your own laundry, you have to work around my use of the laundry room (with a dose of: next time put your clothes in your hamper and you won't have this problem).
- There is no faster way to the wrath of mom than to put clearly clean (sometimes still folded!) clothes back in the dirty clothes. Just no.
- I'll probably fold (especially if I treat myself to a movie or tv show catch-up in the process) but when it comes to putting away the piles of clothes, all bets are off. Everybody gets their own clothes and (ideally; see #3) puts them away.
I'm definitely willing to change things up in the laundry room, though, and turn more of the process over to someone else for a while. I'd love to hear how other families do it. Do chime in! What's your laundry philosophy? Do your kids do their own laundry? If so, when did they start and what's your system?