Tuesday, 29 May 2012

New Love for Laundry Days

Chores. They are a part of life for pretty much everyone and that includes my kids. As I have talked about before, I have always been keen for every little member of our family to have a role to play and a way to contribute to our family. When they are tiny it's pretty easy as toddlers pretty much love to help and get involved in everything, as Eli (and Lily at the same age) eagerly scampered around doing whatever you will let them! As all the advice goes, I would always endeavour to make it as fun and exciting and engaging as possible, high on praise as well as age-appropriate, short time length and manageable etc. Of course, we parents want to make the introduction into this wonderful world of chores as sweet as possible, right?! ;)

Lily conquers Mt Washmore

However. These kiddies are more clever than we often give them credit for. No matter how many bells and whistles you put on chores, no matter how much praise you ladle out, or how creative and fun you make it, at some point the child suddenly clicks - Heyyyyyy, this isn't that fun! Actually... it's work! Mmmm yes, the cold harsh realities of life, heehee! The gloss has worn off and they realise this task is not going away any time soon. This realisation has dawned on Lily over the last couple months, after the golden early years of eagerly and enthusiastically helping put the laundry away. This is pretty much her main regular chore - I take the freshly-dried basket of laundry to my bedroom, sorting and folding and putting things away in there, and the kid's job is to run the various other items to wherever they belong in the house and put them away too if possible. Well, she slowly started resisting and whining about doing this chore and no 'glossing it up' was going to convince her putting the laundry away was as fun as riding Unicorns along rainbows whilst eating ice-cream cones!

Lily: But Mummy, I don't want to do the laundry!
Me: Honey, even when you don't want to, the job still needs to be done! I don't always feel like doing it either, but we still do it or we wouldn't be able to find any of our clothes to wear.
Lily: But Mummy, I don't like doing the laundry!
Me: I didn't say you needed to like doing it, I just said it is a job that needs to be done. But it's your choice to do it cheerfully or grumpily.

Chores are about responsibility and contributing and serving others, and as much as I try to make them fun and engaging, full of positive reinforcement and all the rest... even when they stop feeling like all those things... the job still needs to be done and I want my children to grow up knowing how to be responsible even when they don't 'feel' like being so.

So many quiet little chats have taken place with my precious girl, explaining and discussing. During this season I calmly persisted with the chore and would be firm about it still needing to be done. I would give plenty of warning of when it would need to happen (or choose a time together if possible). To make it less overwhelming (and while also working through myself what was fair to expect from her and how much to enforce chores at this age), I would sometimes cut it down from doing the whole basket to saying she needed to put 10 items away, or just the items for her room or something while still making sure the chore was not avoided altogether or wiggled out of. But she needed to be do it calmly. She struggled, sometimes doing better than others until...

Diving over Mt Washmore is also pretty fun...

There was a sudden transformation in her heart and her attitude. All of a sudden, she was regularly asking me if I needed help doing any laundry! Cheerfully running through the house to put it all away, quicker than I could sort it. Giggling with her brother as they scampered together to put clothes in different rooms, Lily always guiding her little brother of course. She was actually begging for more clothes to do!! I kid you not.
I mentioned to her 'Lily, I've noticed you have been helping really cheerfully with the laundry lately. I really appreciate your help and your happy heart when you do it!'

She cheerily responded - 'Mummy do you know why I love doing the laundry now? Because you love doing the laundry and I learnt from you and now I love doing the laundry!!'


Well, I think saying I love doing the laundry is a leeeettle bit of a stretch! But perhaps what she meant and at least what I hope, is that she saw me taking care of jobs in the home without complaint and with a cheerful heart, even when they aren't always fun. (Um, yeah, but not always, I must admit!! *blush* All the more reason to keep my own attitude in check with little eyes watching and learning!)

And the irony is? As the photos of this morning's laundry-putting-away session show, now that all of us are  involved and committed, with happy hearts and a willing attitude, we are actually all having more fun than ever!! It's one of the highlights of our day and we laugh and giggle and run and joke all while taking care of a job that needs to be done regardless of how we feel about it. I guess it just goes to show that with a little attitude adjustment, even the mundane can be a little bit wonderful!

Little Helpers loaded up!


  1. This makes me so proud - lovely post Missy!

  2. Sounds like you are a great mama! Can you make laundry that fun for me? Lol. Your pictures are so cute I love the one where she dove into the basket :)

  3. Hey... doing laundry with so much fun is wonderful! I´m sure the children appreciate this a lot. Your two babies are so cute... and this little princess is adorable!

  4. Talk about bringing the fun to laundry! You are so inspiring Kate. I really do need to work on this with Finn and Harper. Their willingness isn't quite there ;) But as I can see with your conversations with Lily it is a work in progress.

    1. thanks Amber :) yeah as you said... it is a work in progress and i think that is what i have found - that at different stages their enthusiasm and willingness will rise and wane but that i just need to persevere with them and teach them why the chores dont just go away when we dont want to do them! I think they could be doing more but i admit its hard to be conscientous with it (for me!!) but this task is one that I'm used to them helping w which makes it easier for me to remember to involve them!


i love to hear your thoughts, thanks for leaving your comments! xx