A few months back I had my 11 year old son start doing his own wash, and I thought I'd come back and share how it's going. But first a few quick steps regarding how to get your tween child to do their own wash:
Step 1: Show them how to do wash. Let them help you do several loads. Discuss things like water temperature, amount of detergent, dryer temperature, etc.
Step 2: Buy them their own hamper to use to keep their clothes separate.
Step 3: Let them know that they are ready to do their own wash and that it is time for them to take on that responsibility.
Step 4: Stop doing their wash.
And a few tips I've learned along the way:
1. This really is the most awesome chore to turn over to your preteen/tween child because it is truly something that lightens your load as a mom and there is a built-in consequence that you don't have to enforce! If they don't do their wash, they don't have clean clothes to wear. Parenting doesn't get any easier that, folks!
2. For #1 to work well, your child should have a week's worth of clothes, no less, and not too much more. For example, the khaki shorts my son wears to middle school he has exactly 5 pairs. The dwindling supply is a good reminder to him that it's time to do wash soon.
3. Whichever day your kid picks to do his wash, just count on the washer/dryer being occupied for most of the day because preteens are not exactly speedy about the turn-over between washer and dryer, etc.
4. The dryer will buzz loudly and then go back into its wrinkle-shield setting for a few minutes before buzzing again. You will try to ignore the annoying buzzer and glance over at your child but remain quiet because you are trying not to nag and he needs to own this chore. This process will repeat no less than 6 times before you finally comment to your middle schooler that his clothes are done in the dryer to which he'll respond, "Really? I didn't hear it go off!"
5. Once your son starts doing his own wash, do not go into his closet any more. Trust me on this one. You don't want to see what's in there! Okay, I'm kidding a little, here, but really just expect to find things that are not the way you'd do them, like this pile of dirty clothes on the floor of the closet rather than in the hamper:
And where is the hamper anyway?
Of course, it's over there by the dresser instead of in the closet where it belongs to actually, you know, collect the dirty clothes!
And if you are a person, like me, who hangs the shirts all facing the same direction in the closet? LET IT GO! That is a crazy standard to hold an 11 year old boy to. If he has clean clothes that he washed by himself, the whole thing has been a success!
I know, it makes me itch a little, too, the shirts facing opposite directions, which is why it's better to just not go in there!!
All in all, my son really is doing great with this chore. He has not completely run out of clean clothes yet, he seems to understand the need to hang things quickly before they get wrinkled, and he gets bonus points for even bringing home his school gym clothes every Friday and washing them with his other clothes over the weekend!