Housekeeping Skill School, Day Two: 🧺WASH DAY👗 with “Dolly Dear”!

“Obviously, by including the child in their own work, parents are slowing down their own efficiency and the time of accomplishment. Why would Montessori, in other ways such a practical woman and one of great personal achievement, recommend such a seemingly impractical approach to children once they become fifteen months old? She suggested making the child the adult’s daily companion in these simple activities of home and family for one reason only: out of respect for the possibilities of human life as found in the small child.

Paula Polk Lillard & Lynn Lillard Jessen, Montessori from the Start

Welcome! Thanks so much for tuning in! If you’re just joining us, here’s what you’ve missed of Housekeeping Week thus far:

Housekeeping Week, Day Two: WASH DAY with “Dolly Dear”!

because washing doll clothes the old-fashioned way is just too fabulous not to!

When I first envisioned this enchanting Skill School day of galvanized tubs and castile suds, I questioned whether I was being overly romantic. I asked myself: “is an old-fashioned Wash Day practical anymore? Is it relevant?”

At first I had to concede, a vintage Wash Day may be more fanciful than it is practical in our modern-day society of washing machines and dryers. But I kept coming back to our objectives in Skill-Schooling our kids: to break down skill sets one at a time in a way that is tangible and easily accessible to a child, while making it fun, intriguing, perhaps even irresistible. The pulse of this can be felt when reading a Laura Ingalls Wilder novel; there is a simple yet exquisite beauty in a life that is built entirely by your own two hands. There is joy in doing it the old-fashioned way!

Furthermore, there may even result a deeper, more grounded connection to whatever task is at hand once the shortcuts and machinery have been stripped away. After all, what understanding does a child have of a washing machine and what happens to the family’s clothes behind its opaque walls? She can hear it doing something. She believes it to be doing something. She knows the clothes go in the barrel and come out wet and clean. But the rest is a mystery to her. And I wonder, what understanding and appreciation might be gained if we allowed our children to take on the job of the washing machine, if just for a morning or afternoon?

And then I began recalling just how relevant the skills of old-school handwashing have been in my own life throughout the years:

Desperate midnights spent handwashing clothes in hotel bathtubs came to mind (because sharing washing machines with total strangers grosses me out). . .

That hardly-touched section of my closet with blouses and dresses marked “hand-wash”. . .

Sinks and bathtubs filled to bursting with clothes when the washer flooded the apartment (again). . .

Emergency hand-washings of baby and toddler clothes on the side of the road—using emergency water bottles and hand soap after a traumatic episode of carsickness. . .

Bi-monthly, back-breaking hand-washings of our feather duvet in the soaker-tub. . .

Airport bathroom washing-warfare following a diaper blowout on the tarmac . . .

No, my friends. I declare a vintage Wash Day to be very practical indeed. The fact that it is enchanting and romantically reminiscent of times gone by is just a blissful bonus.


  • a collection of doll/stuffed animal clothes and/or baby clothes
  • a basket for the clothes
  • laundry soap
  • two buckets, pails, or wash basins
  • drying rack or clothesline
  • clothespins (*optional)
  • washboard (if you are crazy cool enough to have one of those lying around!)


1.) Collect doll/stuffed animal/baby clothes (including clothed dolls/stuffed animals).

2.) Set up a washing area outside:

  • fill one bucket with water and a small amount of laundry soap
  • fill another bucket with pure water
  • set up a drying rack or clothesline
  • bring out doll/stuffed animal clothes and basket

3.) Help your child undress dolls/stuffed animals and place clothes in the wash basket.

4.) Let the dolls/stuffed animals stay to “watch” their clothes be washed. Young kids will tackle Wash Day with far more joy if there is a little imaginative play along the way!

5.) Show your child how to select an item of clothing, plunge it into the soapy water, slosh it around, and rub it between her hands.

6.) Next, demonstrate how to squeeze as much of the soapy water out of each garment as possible after giving it a thorough wash.

7.) Next, direct your child to wash the soap out by dipping it into the rinse water and squeezing repeatedly several times. (Freshen rinse water as needed).

8.) Finally, demonstrate for your child how to hang the clothes on the drying rack or clothesline. Explain the words “symmetrical” and “equal” to your child and show him how to hang an item of clothing so that the garment forms a mirror image of itself or is weighted equally on both sides of the line.

9.) Let your children lose themselves in the old-world charms of Wash Day. Don’t be surprised if your child is having so much fun that he asks to take all the clothes off the drying rack once he’s finished and wash them again.

Sit back, enjoy a good book and a glass of iced tea, and let your children wring out all the pleasure to be found in washing clothes (in our son’s words): “the good, old-fashioned way.”


  • loading a washer
  • adding soap and running a cycle on the washing machine
  • transferring clothes to the dryer
  • running a dry cycle
  • removing dry clothes from a dryer to a laundry basket
  • removing lint from the dryer
  • matching socks
  • folding clothes and towels
  • putting clothes away in a drawer
  • hanging clothes

Tune in later this week for: HEY DIDDLE DIDDLE DISHES! And don’t run off with that spoon!

Thanks ever so much for reading!

Love, ~Our Holistic Homeschool~

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