Montessori Practical Life at Home — Laundry with Kids

My kids’ laundry routine is semi-famous on Instagram. For real though — people have told me that they have changed laundry days or been inspired to start having a consistent laundry day just because of our “Thursday Laundry Day” (recently moved to Wednesdays, which threw a lot of people off!). So I get a lot of questions about how to get kids involved with laundry, and I’ve gathered some photos from over the years so you can see where we started and where we are now.

The number one piece of advice I can give you about getting kids involved in doing their laundry is to create a consistent laundry routine. For us, that meant the same day every week was laundry day. We didn’t plan any outings on that day, and we began our day with laundry. Now, I’m not making my kids do all the laundry in the house — but why on earth should *I* do all the laundry in the house? In our family, we are each responsible for our own laundry. It’s not a choice at this point. If they don’t do their laundry, they won’t have any clothes to wear. It’s as simple as that.

Of course, you’re not going to start there! Start with just one small thing. For us, we had a lot of washcloths that we used daily when the girls were toddlers — simply because there are so many spills at that age! The very first thing they took responsibility for folding were those washcloths. We started by just folding them in half, then eventually the girls decided on their own to get fancy with it and folded them in thirds, like you see Nora doing in the above picture from before she was 2 years old.

Next we added some clothes. Lila is about 3 in this photo, and already an expert at folding her shirts and pants. Exactly how you fold them will depend a bit on your clothes storage — at this point, she had a dresser that she kept her clothes in, so everything had to be folded. Now she hangs up her shirts, so she only needs to fold her pants.

Having a consistent place to fold the laundry each time is also key — it adds to that sense of routine. In our house, that’s the coffee table . We dump out the clean clothes on the couch, and each girl folds her clothes and puts it in a pile. When they finish folding, they carry it all up to their bedrooms and put it away. We don’t do anything else that day until the laundry has been washed, folded, and put away.

Probably the favorite part of laundry day is getting to push the buttons on the machines! Kids love this part, and it’s actually pretty important to learn if your goal is for them to be able to independently do their laundry from start to finish at some point before they leave your house and make their way in the world.

Nora is 5 now and she still does her laundry on our official “Laundry Day” each week. Lila is almost 7 and has recently been given a bit more freedom with it. Since she is usually busy with schoolwork, she is allowed to do her laundry whenever she chooses as long as she doesn’t run out of clean clothes. Guess what? Almost every week, she chooses to do it on our usual Laundry Day. Routine!

So we started before the age of 2 with just washcloths. At almost 7, Lila can do her entire laundry load independently:

  1. She decides that her clothes need to be washed.
  2. She carries them to the laundry room, puts her clothes and detergent into the washing machine, and starts it.
  3. She switches her wet clothes to the dryer and turns it on.
  4. She brings her clothes upstairs and folds them.
  5. She puts away all of her clothes in her closet.

If this is not something your family does, you probably won’t believe this — but doing their own laundry isn’t even a struggle. There’s no fight. It’s just the expectation, and they’re used to it. They even take pride in it — they are the neatest folders I’ve ever seen!

Even if you didn’t start this before the age of 2, there’s no reason you can’t start now. Just remember that consistency is key. Do your own laundry while they do theirs. Model how to fold neatly, but don’t expect theirs to be perfect right away. And if you need a nudge from a fellow kid, show them this instructional video Lila made a couple years ago: