Many parents are interested in the prospect of teaching kids to clean up after themselves, and this can begin as soon as they are walking, talking, and able to take instruction. My father often quipped that he didn’t need to buy a dishwasher because there were already four in the house. But aside from getting your kids to take on some of the burden for cleaning the messes they help to make, teaching them to participate in household chores will instill confidence and capability, along with a level of personal responsibility. Plus, when kids are doing chores you can get a few minutes of R&R. And perhaps the biggest time-saver is teaching children to do their own laundry.
You can’t really get them using the machinery until they reach their teen or perhaps preteen years simply because they likely won’t be able to reach the machinery to use it until they’re bigger, and you might not like the idea of them balancing on a stool to load laundry into the washing machine (although front-load equipment could solve this problem). But you can start the process of teaching them laundry duties at a much younger age by making them responsible for placing their clothes in the hamper. Even toddlers can manage this simple task.
From there you can have them help you with folding the laundry. Although their hands are small and their developing motor skills can leave their pile of folded clothes looking suspiciously like the unfolded items next to it, nothing is gained by letting them slide. The more they practice, the better they’ll get at folding and other laundry-related tasks. And teaching them good habits like folding and putting away their clothing when they’re young could mean you won’t constantly have to harp on teenagers that have grown accustomed to throwing everything in piles on the floor, the bed, and every other surface in their room, mixing dirty with clean and neither knowing nor caring about the difference.
And with good habits like pre-sorting dirty laundry into lights and darks and then folding and putting away clean clothes after the fact, it shouldn’t be too difficult to integrate the washing and drying portion of doing laundry into their routine. You can teach kids to wash clothing as soon as they’re big enough to reach all pertinent equipment and knobs. It’s not as if you’re dealing with industrial-sized machinery from an outlet like laundry equipment services. Most kids will be able to handle household washers and dryers by the time they’ve entered their preteen years.
From there you can make sure they know the proper settings for different loads and that they understand the importance of safely handling detergent. There are bound to be some slip-ups along the way, including turning whites pink or shrinking items because they forgot to switch from hot to cold when changing loads. But nothing helps a teen learn a lesson better than destroying a treasured pair of jeans or hoodie because of an oversight. And all of their experiences while under your roof will only serve to better prepare them for life on their own, which is the ultimate goal of parenting.