Washing clothes may not rank high on your list of favorite activities, but you can add some fun to the process. Involve your children and help them learn the skills required for self-sufficiency in the laundry room while sharing some impromptu games that help the wash cycle pass a bit more enjoyably.
Sorting and Loading
Separating laundry by color provides a built-in opportunity to reinforce color names with the little ones. Color recognition forms a cornerstone of school readiness, so your helpers can learn some laundry lessons at the same time you top off their real-world basic skills. Treat the sorting bin as a basketball hoop, soccer goal or end zone and add a sports-themed touch to your laundry games. You can increase the likelihood that those shots fall if you use small items—socks, for example—as the "ball." Let your helpers assist you in loading the washer, too. If you set up high-efficiency front-loading appliances in a stacked configuration or place your washer on a storage-drawer pedestal, however, little ones may have difficulty reaching the washer door.
Children who have grown tall enough to use your folding table without dragging clean clothes across the laundry room floor can help you with hand towels, pillow cases, socks and other small items. Scale the folding games to the child's height, and leave the sheets and comforters for adult hands. Little ones may enjoy watching you remove a great big comforter from the tub of a high-efficiency, large-capacity front-loading washer, especially if you draw out the process as if you're pulling out a very long worm.
When you acquire high-efficiency laundry appliances, the differences between their operating procedures and the way your old equipment worked can provide more than a few opportunities for observational fun. You can help children learn to use these machines by giving them points for spotting the differences between how you load, program and use them, and how your previous equipment functioned.
From the special loading trays for detergent, bleach and fabric softener to the lack of tub-filling time, ask your little detectives to point out what's new. If your appliances include a touch screen for selecting wash and dry cycles and specifying soil levels, let your children watch as you program a load or save a preset to the built-in computer.
Children and laundry products don't mix, especially when you involve little ones in the washday routine. The bright colors and intriguing shapes of all-in-one detergent gel packs can look too much like food to inquiring toddlers. When it comes to soaps, bleaches, softeners and pretreaters, the chemicals belong in parental territory. You can use laundry time as an opportunity to reinforce these lessons, however, so long as you keep the products themselves safely out of reach. For additional safety, keep laundry appliance doors closed when the machines stand idle, eliminating the prospect that someone—child or pet—tries to climb in.
Photo Credits: Pamela Follett/Demand Media
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