Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Teens and Laundry Responsibilities

When I was growing up my Mom did everything for us. I dusted on Saturdays and attempted to keep my room neat and clean, but overall the most I ever remember doing was making chocolate chip cookies a few times, folding laundry, filling the dishwasher, and cleaning my room. I never even cooked or helped cook a meal until I was engaged to be married!

I admit that I am not very proud of this fact, however, I think it was also easier for my Mom to just do it herself. I was very busy with church and school activities, babysitting, and later in high school an after school job. I still have the little note that my Mom sent to me the first week of college that explained how to use the washing machine in the basement of my dorm! I mean I did not know how to even wash a load of clothes!

This brings me to my Works for Me Wednesday post. When I married my husband seven years ago and went from a single parent of one child to a Mom of four, I knew I would need a plan for chores, responsibilities, rules...all the things that children normally have growing up in a family. However, three of my precious ones had lost their Mom three years prior and while my husband is absolutely the best, men were not created to be mothers just as mothers were not created to be fathers. I learned all I could about their Mom and what her teaching style had been for her three sweet ones and went about trying to come up with a plan.

It was one sweet act by a seven year old brunette with brilliant blue eyes that helped me see that there could be another way. In the long run, I would be teaching my children how to take care of themselves and not feel so lost as I had felt.
I came to this decision after our youngest, Hannah, had watched me intently each time I loaded the washer and dryer. She would pull a step stool up to watch and would ask questions. She was like a little sponge...taking it all in. Her Mommy had died when she was only three and a half. After living in a household full of boys for three years she was very excited to have a Mom to follow around.

One day I came home and she very proudly showed me the freshly washed towels all folded neatly and ready to be put away. I sat down and cried. Here a sweet seven year old had learned something that I did not until I was 18! She was so excited and felt so proud. It was after this sweet display of love I decided that maybe I could start with the oldest and see if this would work. I would teach them how to sort, wash, dry, fold, and put away their laundry. My husband and I discussed this and after a little research we decided sixth grade was a great jumping off point to begin this endeavor.

So my quest began. I would like to say it has worked like a charm and that there have been no problems, but I can't....I have four teenagers...three of whom are boys....however, each child has their own wash day with the washer and dryer solely devoted to them. They mainly do their jeans, uniforms, underwear, etc. Mom still does the shirts/blouses that need special care and towels. Many times I surprise them and scoop it up and do it for them. I realize that these four young adults are much further ahead in life than I was back in 1979. They each know their way around the kitchen (that is another post), can keep a home neat, and can operate a washer and dryer.
I hesitated to even post this, but I have seen the pride they each take in this ability. It has been a rite of passage in our home when each one entered the sixth grade. The boys come in after a hard practice or game and the first thing they do is stick their dirty uniforms in the washer. It has taught them responsibility in a very tangible way. It has worked for our family and brought about many positive attributes.

For more Works for Me Wednesday post, head on over to Shannon's at Rocks in My Dryer.


Angie said...

Fabulous tip!

Seriously -- kudos to you! I think so often, it's just "easier" for Mom to do it all, but then the kids don't appreciate the work that is involved and they don't know how to do it. Good for you!

Signed the chickadee that did her very first load of laundry after getting married at 19

Anonymous said...

That's a very moving post, especially the part about that sweet 7 year old baby girl.
Wishing you and yours a Happy New Year 2008!

Amy said...

Responsibility in the home is a great thing to give to your children at this age! I commend you for taking it on! I'm also glad I was able to reunite you with the No-Bake cookie recipe! Happy New Year!

Melissa Markham said...

I wanted to do things around the house, but my mom had been worked by her mom from the time she was 10(she was responsible for cooking meals and cleaning the house alone). And she didn't want me to do anything. But I managed to surprise her by cleaning from time to time and eventually she let me make a meal every now and then. I think you are doing a great job! And you are right, kids need to know those every day chores as much as they need to know how to do algera.

Thanks for stopping by my WFMW. I used to just kind of expect my kids to know how to behave or I would deal with it as it came up. It works so much better to prep a bit before time!

Mrs. Troop said...

Thanks for the encouragement. I know they can do a LOT more than I give them credit for.
Glad to hear someone else has their kids involved in making the home run smoothly.
Happy New Year!

Pieces said...

That is such a sweet story!

Desiree' said...

I love your post. I love this bloggy world; I help you on clutter organization and you help me stay motivated as a "teacher mom." Have a Happy New Year.

Just Me :) said...

What a beautiful post! What a great gift you have given to your children. :) My son wanted to learn how to use the washer last year(he was 8). He loves being able to help around the house.

Thank you for stopping by my blog.:)

Louise said...

Your story moved me; thanks for sharing it!

You are raising capable adults and that is a wonderful gift to both them and their future partners.

Lisa said...

What a great post. Kids can and always want to do more. We just have to let them.

Happy New Year!

Anonymous said...

I really needed this post. I have three (12,10, and 8) and I know they can do laundry if I will just take the time to teach them!

Vickie said...

I am glad that the post helped you. The hardest thing for me at times is taking the time to teach, then reinforce the teaching, and not expect perfection.

C & D said...

I needed to read this too. Thanks.

Nikki said...

What a touching and inspiring post! Yesterday I taught my six year old to make toast. He was so thrilled with the responsibility and know-how that he begged me today to let him do it again.

Taking the time to teach them and preparing on how to teach takes a lot of patience. But I know it will pay off. Thanks!