wait, a five-year-old can DO that?

I recently had the chance to take a sneak peek at GE’s new Profile washer and dryer while at the Blissdom conference. I’m not one who usually waxes on about appliances, and I’m sure you like me that way, so all I will say is this washer/dryer setup rocks and I want one.
Oh and they gave everyone who came to check them out free manicures and massages. So, there’s that. 

I was sitting next to another mom, soaking our cuticles in whatever’s in those manicure bowls, and she said she wanted this particular washer because it pre-measures detergent. You just snap one of those econo-size Tides into the bottom compartment and you don’t have to think about it for another hundred loads. (See what I mean?)

“My 5-year-old son puts too much detergent in,” she said, “so that would help.”

“You let him help you with the detergent?” I asked, smiling indulgently. “I bet he likes that.” 

“Nooo,” she responded calmly. “My 5 and 7-year-olds do all our laundry.”

My brain short-circuited.

“They… wash all the clothes?” I stammered.

She nodded.

“And you fold them?” I asked.

“No, they do,” she answered.

(shocked silence)

“I mean, every family is different,” she said, since I was clearly making her a little uncomfortable. “This is just what we do in our house–“

“Nn-no,” I interrupted her, my mouth dry. “I think that’s great. I just… had no idea that it was POSSIBLE.”

I had her walk me through it all, just to make sure I was getting it right. Her kids sort the clothes. They wash the clothes (maybe with a little too much soap; she’s not sure because she DOES NOT SUPERVISE). They dry the clothes. They fold the clothes, and put them in the laundry basket, and return them to their proper rooms.

I took over *some* of my family’s laundry when I was thirteen, and my mother had my two younger sisters eleven months apart.  I thought it was completely outrageous, at the time– like how was I supposed to manage doing laundry when I was just a KID? But I did it. And here I was finding out that I could have been put on duty a whole lot sooner.

This has forced me to reconsider my 6 and 8-year-olds’ chore load. They hang up their stuff when they get home from school, they scrape their dishes and put them in the dishwasher after dinner, and once in a while, I’ll have them do a huge Tupperware sort or something. But they don’t go near our washing machine, or our vacuum cleaner (though they do know their way around a Dustbuster). They don’t shovel the sidewalks (we live in an apartment building, so we are all off the hook there). But what else could I have them doing around the house? We’re not the Duggars; we manage without hard child labor. But maybe they should be doing it anyway. 

I’m still trying to process this idea, that my kids may be capable of a lot more than I realize– and not just around the house, either. Do your kids have responsibilities and jobs that some would consider beyond their years?