First let me say that I woke up this past Saturday morning with the realization that all of my laundry was actually done; as in washed, dried, folded and put away (which I never thought was possible) and my house was clean and picked up. Amazing, I know! (Don't be too jealous, it lasted for all of about an hour.) I tell you this because it actually offered favorable conditions to begin my delegation of laundry duties to the rest of my family.
Now if you didn't read my previous blog titled, "I Don't Know, It's Not Mine," let me catch you up a bit. In a nutshell, I have 3 sons between the ages of 8 and 11, all of whom believe that I should not only know where everything is, but also take care of all the mundane chores associated with their lives. Like a fool, I had gone along with this for much too long and decided one day that I had had enough. I decided then and there that I was going to start to delegate (which is a scary word for me because, as my husband will attest, I am a complete control freak), starting with the laundry.
I have bright, active boys and I was very confident that they could handle doing their own laundry (although not sure they would agree). Not only would this free up some of my time, but it would also introduce them to some responsibility, teach them a very useful life skill, and stop the very annoying question "Mom, where is my ____ (insert anything and everything that they can't find that in no way whatsoever belongs to me)?"
I started my experiment with my 8 1/2 year old son because he was actually excited about this chore. Why I have no idea, but he thought doing the laundry would be fun and so he became my first guinea pig. Now I am not sure he realized just what the laundry entailed, and seemed a bit surprised when I had him bring down his dirty laundry from his 3rd floor bedroom. But after that initial scare, it seemed to go pretty well. He had no problem loading the washer, moving to the dryer and then putting the clean laundry into a basket.
And then came the folding. As I watched him invent new ways to fold t-shirts, I had to stop myself from showing him the "right" way to do it. My stepson (who was actually helping my son fold the laundry - who knew this chore could also encourage cooperation) had to remind me a couple times that there was more than one way to fold laundry. And he was right, it didn't really matter how he folded them, as long as he did in such a way that they would not end up wrinkled. Even I was learning something in this process.
After the folding, he carried the very heavy basket up 3 flights of stairs and proceeded to put them away, which he did need a little help with because he drawers were already pretty full. All is all, kid number one was successful. Kid number 2 and 3 (my stepsons) were also very good about their new chore. I had to actually remind them where they were in the process, but no one actually argued with me even once. And to reinforce their positive behavior, I handed them their allowance on Sunday afternoon in real actual cash (and then of course reminded them that this money was now their responsibility and we will not answer any questions about where their money might be or entertain the possibility that our cleaning lady stole it from them).
So in the end, my children dove right into their new chore. They did a great job, didn't complain once and even taught me a thing or two. I figure I will give this a couple months to become habit and then delegate something new. Who knows, in a couple years I might find myself with some free time.