I read a letter the other day from a young woman to her theoretical future mother-in-law, asking the mom to raise her son to be independent. As parents, if we are not careful, we can raise our sons to be “Mama’s boys”. They will grow into men who cannot care for themselves, and expect a girl to do it for them. Sitcoms make fun of the stereotypical guys who can’t boil water or do laundry, but it’s no laughing matter. Are we raising our boys so that they are able to contribute in their own household someday? Or maybe don’t think so far into the future – think about a year or two down the road. How much of your workload would be lightened if your son could do his own laundry? Let’s be thoughtful about our sons’ futures, and teach them to do laundry now.
Here are some tips that have helped our family along the way:
Around age 4, have your son start by “helping” you fold the laundry. At this age, they are usually eager to prove how big they are, and they want to help. Take advantage of that enthusiasm, and nurture it.
Make it easy.
I have two boys, and because they are close in age, they are able to wear the same socks. I decided long ago to only buy one type of sock for them, so no pairing is required. We have a sock drawer, where clean socks are deposited, and they simply pull 2 out as needed. This cuts down on folding time considerably.
Also, install closet rods where they can reach them, so they can hang their own clothes. (It also creates extra storage room, which I am sure we all could use!)
Make a system that works for you.
Every household is different. In our house, we fold pajamas and pants, but shirts and shorts (in summer) get hung up. This cuts down on drawers full of wadded up clothes, and also lets them pick out the shirt they want without tossing the rest on the floor.
Introduce one new skill at a time.
After your son has learned the system of folding and putting clothes away, teach him how to use the washer and dryer. Around age 8 or 9, your son should be to reach all the buttons necessary to do a load of laundry from start to finish. (If not, they can always use a foot stool.)
Use Cold Water to wash.
In our house, we wash all their clothes on cold, so we eliminate the need for sorting. This also cuts out any confusion as to when they need to use hot or cold water.
What about you? Has your Snazzy Lad begun doing laundry? I’d love to hear any tips you have to share! Just remember, this is a learning process. There will be bumps along the road, but it will be worth it in the end.
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