While folding two loads of laundry I found myself frustrated trying to keep my toddler from constantly un-piling my piles. It finally dawned on me to take my own advice and get him to help out.
I made a pile for each person in our family: Mommy, Daddy, Max, Oliver
I held up an item - (let's say it's Daddy's shirt) and asked him "Is this baby Oliver's shirt?" He would answer "No" but really it was more like, "NoooooooooooOO!" with a dip of inflection in the middle and a punch of an "O" at the end. I would follow up by saying, "Then whose shirt is it?" "Daddy's Shirt!!!!!!" he would reply. Then I would fold it and he would put it in the right pile.
We played that game through the ENTIRE two loads of laundry. It was magic. He thought it was so funny when I would say that the baby's shirt was my shirt. I even pretended I was trying to put it on, and that really cracked him up. Did it take three times as long? Yes. But did I teach my child something in the process? I think so.
It's all about a switch in perspective. I was almost to the point that I wanted to give him a timeout but I just made a simple change in my outlook, seeing an opportunity to have fun and learn, and it turned out to be a grand time.
That Mary Poppins was onto something.
Cost: FREE, unless you pay your kiddos for helping with the chores
VARIATIONS: Have your child sort the laundry. I sorted my own laundry in elementary school. You can start them as a toddler sorting whites and darks and towels and colors and by the time they hit school age, they are doing it on their own. I also knew a family where they put a basketball hoop over the hamper in their boy's room, inviting dirty duds to make their way into the hamper in a fun way.