The piles of laundry have slowly started to consume my bedroom. All the laundry baskets we own, plus some random bins, all surrounding the bedroom floor, piled high with clothes. So many clothes.
I stared at that pile and had no desire to put anything away because the amount of clothing was just too overwhelming.
So I called in reinforcements… the kids. It was the middle of the day and I needed help. We dumped out all the clean clothes on our bedroom rug. I gave each kiddo a laundry basket. Then I told them to find all their clothes.
Within a few minutes they had sorted all their clothes. Each found all their own clothing, and what was remaining on the floor was my husband and my clothes. I threw our stuff into an empty basket, and carried each kiddos’ basket into their bedroom.
Since we were already on a roll, I asked the kids to put their clothing away. They both looked at me with confusion. My daughter said, “I don’t know how to fold.” That’s when I realized that we needed to change our system.
How I Get My Kids To Put Away Their Own Laundry
While I love file-folding clothing to utilize the most space in drawers, this isn’t the best system for young children. Start by giving each drawer one type of clothing. For example, all t-shirts go into one drawer. All shorts go into a different drawer. Try not to overlap types of clothing in each drawer. This helps create an easy systems the kids can follow.
Not enough drawers? Try using bins in the closet for holding things, like off-season clothes!
I strongly suggest adding picture labels to each drawer and/or bin. This visual helps the kids find what they are looking for, which makes putting away clothes go quicker. Since their attention span is so short, it helps to keep them focuses.
Once the drawers are organized by specific type of clothes, teach the kids where things go. Play games with them to have them find a t-shirt, or pajamas. You can even use this initial teaching time to put away clothes that were in the laundry!
Now comes my kids favorite part- sorting. They love digging through the clothes to find their things. Sometimes we have to time everyone to see who can sort the fastest. I usually lose because I do make sure all their shirts and pants are not inside out.
The kids love racing, because who doesn’t love to see who can find things the fastest? Plus it makes me happy once that part is over!!
Putting It Away
Each kiddo takes their basket and goes into their bedroom to put away clothes. I sit with my daughter (4) as she puts her things away. We talk the entire process through as she is putting things away.
If she starts to get overwhelmed by the large pile, we start by having her pick up one thing. Then we put that one thing away. I ask her to find one more thing and put that away. This process helps reduce her anxiety when she sees all that needs to get put away. (This idea helps adults as well. Just pick up one thing and put it away. Then move onto the next item. Slow and steady works every time!)
My son (5) is able to put all his clothes away independently. He organized all his clothes in bins and put them in his closet how he likes it. I don’t touch them, as he created his own system. I do check to make sure things aren’t misplaced.
When he puts his things away, he finds all his t-shirts, then puts them all away at once. This works for him, so I let him go with it.
We do laundry each week, so once a week the kids are responsible for this entire process. Some weeks are tougher than others to get the job complete. So, to ensure the task gets done, I have some tricks up my sleeve.
I try to do laundry in the morning, before they get engaged in an activity/game/etc. This helps keep focus on the task at hand.
If I missed that opportunity, I will try to do laundry time before an enjoyable activity, like TV time or special play time. This helps with motivation.
We have been doing our laundry routine for about two months now, and it has been such a game-changer. The kids know exactly where things go, so it makes getting ready in the morning quicker. Plus I haven’t been getting as overwhelmed with laundry.
I have set up a few clients with a similar system. Their kids have picture labels on drawers or in their closet. They are responsible for putting away their own clothes. Some of the kiddos’ have even reorganized their spaces so their favorite clothes are easier for them to get to!