Print   |   Back
May 30, 2013
The Real Issue
Can Kids Help with the Laundry?
by Cyndie Swindlehurst


I think it is important for children to help around the house, and my kids are good helpers.

But my husband does not want them to help with the laundry. He thinks they will mess it up. I think he is being ridiculous.

This has turned into a serious disagreement.

Who is right?


Well, I think the answer depends on who does the laundry at your house.

Children are clearly able to help with the laundry. They can sort, load, fold, and hang. They can progress to measuring soap, turning on the machine, and ironing. Sure, they will make mistakes. But adults make laundry mistakes, too.

But that’s not the issue here. Your real question is whether one spouse can demand that the other spouse do a chore a certain way.

The answer is no.

A good rule of thumb for household tasks is that the person doing the task gets to do it his way. The only requirement is that the method must actually result in the chore being fully and properly completed.

So if I want to iron the sheets as well as the shirts, I get to do so. If my husband wants to wash the dishes one-handed while he watches Top Gear on his iPad, he gets to do so. If my son wants to mow the lawn in a crazy pattern or no pattern at all, he gets to do so. If my smaller son wants to pick up his toys by arranging them into a tableau, he gets to do so.

The non-chore-doing family members will refrain from any criticism and express only gratitude that the chore was done. They will not gripe that the task took too long or was performed inefficiently. They will remember that the task-doer’s time is his own, and if he wishes to prolong his chore, he is free to do so.

So in your case, if you do the laundry and you want the children to help, then the children get to help. But if your husband does the laundry and does not want the children's help, he gets to exclude them from the task.

One more thing. If you know it causes your husband worry or distress to think of his clothes being laundered by children, just be sweet and do them yourself, as a special gift to him. And tell him sincerely it’s because you love him.

Copyright © 2024 by Cyndie Swindlehurst Printed from