the great laundry game

I'm a task-oriented person.

So much so that I have seemed rude at times when I've walked away from a conversation before it's over, not realizing until later that I walked away before engaging in the relational stuff that customarily wraps up a chat - you know, the pleasantries of the "nice to see you, must be going now, have a great day, goodbye now." I really don't mean to be abrupt, but I know I do this often at church, especially when I'm torn between chatting with friends on the way to the children's building where I have the task I love of making sure kids with special needs are supported well each week.

If you know me in real life, I'm guessing I've probably walked away without saying goodbye at least once. I'm sorry!

Anywho, this can cause problems in teaching our own children to be part of keeping our home in order. I'm focused on getting the chores done, not on teaching my kids through the process. Recently, my friend Shelly asked on Facebook for ideas for chores for her three-year-old son, and our friend Karen said:
A three yr old can make their bed, not well, but it is all about training! Dusting, straightening pillows on the couch, windex low windows, match socks, put away folded laundry in low drawers, feed the dog, water the flowers/plants. Just keep in mind that the goal is to teach family participation and responsibility and its not really about accomplishing the actual chores. Wow... I sure do miss having a three year old!
Jocelyn and Robbie are both big enough to accomplish actual chores without my help, but I needed Karen's words to remind me that I want us to function as a family and not just task-oriented individuals.

Thus the great laundry game was born.

He's wearing one Spider-Man shirt while holding up another. Anyone wanna guess what his latest obsession is?

The basics:

  • One laundry basket in each corner of the room.
  • All the clean laundry dumped on the couch.
  • Silliness encouraged.
Why, yes, it had been a while since I had put laundry away... and, yes, Jocelyn is wearing a nightgown.

The process: I show the kids which basket belongs to which child, and then we run around the room sorting the laundry. (If you have fewer family members and/or more baskets - or, in our case, baskets and boxes, since Zoe's "basket" was actually a file box - then you could put underwear and socks in one, tops in one, and bottoms in another. Whatever categories work best for you!)

So far, I've only done this with kids' clothes, because (a) adult clothes wrinkle more easily, so I try to hang those up and put them away more quickly and (b) it's more effort than it's worth to pre-sort underwear out and I'm not okay with Jocelyn and Robbie sorting those for me. When I get laundry out of the dryer, I throw the kids' stuff into a basket until the next great laundry game, and I put away the stuff that belongs to me and Lee.

Does it get the kids' laundry folded or hung up and put away? Nope. After the game, we go to each of their rooms to do that. (In Jocelyn's and Zoe's rooms, Jocelyn helps with hanging and folding and putting away while Robbie plays. In Robbie's room, they clean up his toys and books while I put clothes away. And Zoe either hangs out in my sling or on a blanket on the floor or in some sort of seat.)

See the baskets in the top corners and the box in the bottom left. And, please, ignore the mess. We were focusing on laundry, not other clutter...

Works for us. And the kids love it! (Though I don't think they know it's a chore. Sneaky, I know.)

And, of course, every great game needs spectators. You saw the black furry one above, and here's the one who didn't make it into that shot.