Getting Your Kids Dressed and Using Choice to Navigate Hectic Mornings

getting kids dressed

We’ve all been there – everything organized for our precious one the night before. Clothes are laid out, backpack is packed, and you envision (once again) a perfect morning routine. The next morning you’re trying to get your kids dressed as they argue with you over… everything. Why is the morning such a battle?

Having come from the work world to motherhood, I often found myself running into the buzz saw of morning chaos, especially as my precious one learned to think for herself. Everything I did to exert control seemed to backfire. Clothes would be strewn on the floor along with an impassioned argument why they were unacceptable, and every accomplished task came with great emotional cost – both for me and her. Once again, we would be flying out of the house with minutes to spare, any patient-mommy pretense on my part long gone.

Finally, out of self-defense, I asked the question, “So, what do you want to wear?” The answer was appalling, but we accomplished the needed goal, mismatched or not.

After much trial and error, we finally found our middle ground. I would lay out two options with the only ground rule one item in each category needed to be selected (underwear, shirt, pants or skirt, socks). Somehow, by giving up some control to my child in an area where she could exercise her own choices, I was able to gain the control and results I had only dreamed of before.

So, here are my hard-fought lessons learned

  • Become a team. Talk to your child about the morning routine and listen to and acknowledge what he/she doesn’t like. Gently share your own challenges.
  • Let your child choose their clothing; consider involving him/her in selecting options the night before (or even the final outfit).
  • If your child wears a school uniform, extend their choice to what they wear under it (bike shorts or special underwear).
  • Purchase clothes with an eye toward interchangeability and variety — also think durability, as favorite items are hard to let go of.
  • If your child has formed a strong attachment to a special outfit (think Halloween costume) and wants to wear it to the grocery store, consider just saying “yes” every once in a while. My three-year-old looked quite fetching in the checkout lane wearing her Little Mermaid outfit.

Sometimes, by giving up a little control, you get it right back.

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