Teaching children new skills during lock down: How to do laundry

This is a strange time for everyone. With families all over the UK in lock down, we find ourselves with our normal day-to-day routines completely thrown out of the window.

No school, working from home for many people, home educating, no after school clubs or weekend clubs – everything has changed.

As unsettling as this is for so many people, it’s also an opportunity to do things differently for a while. To talk more, to play more games and to teach your children things you never normally have time for.

One of those things is laundry. Whatever the age of your child, they can get involved in the laundry process. Clearly you aren’t going to teach your toddler to iron, but if you think about the laundry process, there are elements that children of all ages can get involved in.

Firstly, even young children can pick up dirty washing from the floor and put it in the washing basket. Children can also take dirty washing from the basket to the machine and you can probably teach anyone over five to load and turn on the washing machine.

Children can also sort the laundry into colours and fabrics. This is a great home learning exercise of colour and texture recognition but also learning why we wash things separately and on different settings. So, why that white knitted jumper doesn’t get washed with the dark blue jeans!

You can teach children about washing powder or liquid, fabric conditioners and stain removers – these are all important life lessons for children and might be especially useful for a child close to leaving home. You don’t want your children to not be able to these things things for themselves when they are older. Take this unique moment in history to pass on your laundry wisdom! The investment will pay off!

Moving on, once washed you can teach your children how to dry your clothes. Whether you use a dryer, washing line or something else, educate them about why you chose the option you do.

If you use a dryer, teach them how to operate it and talk to them about the items that can’t go in the dryer. Show them garment labels and discuss the symbols.

Teach them how to clear the filter and empty the water if you have a condenser dryer. Demonstrate and them supervise them doing it themselves next time.

Once dry, talk to your children about ironing – perhaps what needs ironing and what you don’t need to or can get away without ironing (the more the better in my opinion).

If you have teenage children you can of course teach them how to iron. Make sure you go through the safety aspect of this, not just the garment care aspect. You will know yourself that an iron burn can be really bad, so discuss the safety issues before you get started and supervise them.

I remember feeling really grown up the first time I was allowed to use the iron unsupervised! It felt like a strange milestone! I can’t remember how old I was though, but I quickly learnt what you could and could not iron – like that ruched emerald dress.

You can also discuss the sorting and putting away of clothes. If you have lots of people in the house, perhaps you have a specific system for this that you can share with your children? If it’s not the best system – challenge your children to come up with a better one.

Show them how to hang clothes, talk about what should hang – like that black bodycon mini dress, and what can fold – like that black and brown cropped jumper – and where everything goes. Chances are they’ve been used to just pulling something out of a draw or their wardrobe for years and not especially thinking about how it got there or the process to get it back in there either.

Now is the time to shine a light on the things you’ve been doing all these years and get them involved in the process.

Yes, this is a difficult time for people, but it’s also an opportunity to teach things that can’t be taught in school – so make the most of it!

This is a collaborative article

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