I was talking today with a male acquaintance who told me that he had just completed the laundry for his family of five, including arranging the closet of his seventeen year old daughter by putting like with like: short-sleeved shirts arranged by color, long-sleeved shirts arranged by color, pants arranged by color, etc. I am in awe and wish he would come over here to arrange things. I mentioned this at dinner and my sixteen year old daughter said, “Why? I do that with my clothes.” I had no idea…. you see at my house, when you turn twelve, you get a lesson in how the washer and dryer work and then you are responsible for your own clothes. I didn’t know how my daughter arranges her clothes, because frankly, other than buying some new ones from time to time, I haven’t had anything to do with them.

It’s  not always easy to do this. My twelve-year-old moves his dirty clothes from the laundry basket into the washing machine to the laundry basket to the dryer to the laundry basket where they remain until he plucks them out to wear them to school. He is a wrinkled mess, but at least he smells clean. 🙂 I’m hoping that when he discovers girls that the wrinkled mess will finally get folded and put in the dresser….but until then, I am willing to cringe and look the other way.

I think that the kids learn valuable lessons in this: how to do the laundry, how much time this essential task takes, with no planning you find yourself wearing the same smelly gym shorts to school for the third day….that kind of thing.

And there are important lessons for the recovering perfectionist mom (me) too. For example: being a good mom includes letting your kids fail in small ways (wrinkled clothes) so they can succeed in big ways (responsibility for one’s self) and people who judge you because you don’t meet THEIR standards are soooo not worth your time.

And, BONUS, when you let the kids wash their own clothes, you free up time for helping them with their homework and driving them to the next athletic event or a home cooked dinner.

Your call.


2 thoughts on “Laundry

  1. kris says:

    Yes, I totally agree with your approach to kids and laundry. My three kids, now grown and on their own, also started doing their own laundry at about age 12.

    Now our 17-year-old nephew is living with us. When he moved in with us last fall, the first week he was here we showed him how to do his own laundry .

    Meanwhile, his mother continues to do laundry for her 23-year-old son.

    As the cliche goes, to each her own. 🙂


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