My own mom did my laundry until the day I left for college. Her motivation was love—she wanted to help me by giving me as much time as possible to study. As an over-achieving student, I appreciated the time to devote to my schoolwork.
But when I got to college, I was stressed by laundry. I didn’t know how long a load took or how to dry certain items. So I had to figure it out in a dorm laundromat in between studying and attending classes.
I decided my kids would learn how to do their laundry while under my roof.
I wanted them to learn this life skill and how to manage their time. But I didn’t want to wait it until they were on the way out the door. When should a child start doing their own laundry? Middle school seemed like a better age to teach them than high school. I felt they were old enough to handle it, but not quite so busy with extracurriculars, significant others, or higher-level classes.
So when my oldest was in 6th grade, I decided he could at least put his folded clothes away after I put them on his bed.
When he got to 7th grade, I would wash and dry his clothes and then leave them in a pile for him to fold and put away.
My goal was that by 8th grade he would wash, dry, fold and put away his clothes. I thought this gradual approach would meet with the least amount of resistance, aka whining. And that turned out to be right. My son jumped ahead of this time frame on his own, though, because he found it annoying to find a pile of laundry on his bed to fold (!). He started doing everything himself in 7th grade.
Now my kids are 17 and 14, and they do their own laundry like pros. It pleases me to see them pitch in, but more importantly, to realize they know how to do laundry and how to manage their time long before they have to juggle the other demands of high school and college.