Monday, January 1, 2007

A Step in the Right Direction

I do the family laundry. This is no surprise and it's also no small feat for six people. But laundry is one of those chores I really don't mind. I like line hanging, I like sorting. It's all very orderly. What I don't like is emptying piles of mixed up clothing from the dryer and then straightening it out. Sensory overload or something, I don't know.

But now that Katherine has her own room, she also has her own laundry basket.

I still do the laundering, it's easy to throw a load in the wash while making school lunches, put the kids on the bus, switch to the dryer, etc etc. There's a rhythm to doing clothes. With Katherine's laundry segregated from the rest of the family's (and I guess this means Rebecca's too, huh?) I can do an entire load just for her. The beauty of this is that once the dryer is done, I can have Katherine get her own clothes from the machine, fold them up and put them away. What liberation! Even better was the following discussion:
M: Katherine, the dryer is full of your clothes. Please get them, bring them to your room, fold them and put...
K: OK ok ok, the sooner I get to this, the sooner it'll be done.
M: *silent cheer*
K: Mom, why are all of these clothes inside out?
M: Because everyone just takes off their clothes and plops them in the basket.
K: But it takes a long time to turn every one of them out!
M: Yup, it sure does. I do it for five people every time (because you know, -I- know what a pain it is, so I turn my clothes out as I remove them before they're washed)
K: Well, I'm going to start turning them out before they go in the basket too. It'll just be easier.
M: *second silent cheer* Oh, and could you empty your pockets and take your belts off too?
Baby steps. But she's nearly 11 and plenty old to pay attention to these things.
Reminds me of a friend of mine who decided over these holidays she was no longer the housecleaning fairy and got her 3 kids in on the act. One of the chores she passed on was the switching of the laundry from the washer to the dryer. Her 5 year old daughter was all geared up when she stuck her hands in the machine and then quickly removed them with a shocked look on her face.
"Mom, they're WET!"
Too often I get annoyed with my kids over things I feel are quite obvious, or would be obvious with an iota of thought, so I roll my eyes and use sarcasm when a simple Yes or No would suffice. What I've tried to tell myself is that these are things that I do naturally think about, but it's not always on a kid's mind to consider what happens with spilled juice on the floor or why poking fork tines into a tablecloth is still a bad idea. They know the sugar is sticky or that ants like sweet stuff, but thinking the step ahead to cleaning it up well... not quite there yet. Or that tines don't do any damage to a tablecloth, but the table underneath takes quite a beating... not quite there yet.
It's funny, my boys really like connect-the-dot puzzles. I do wish all my kids would take it a step further to real life. Katherine is getting there. I'm hoping the others will be well on their way before their 10th birthday.

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