Number four of 101 Things Parents Can Do to Help Children is: Analyze your child's wardrobe and build a wardrobe aimed at freedom of movement, independence, and freedom from distraction.
My children’s wardrobes were free. I’m not going to analyze that too much because truthfully, the free part has been awesome.
Okay, free is an exaggeration, but we’ve probably only spent $300 on clothes in the last three years. How, you ask? Gifts, of course, are part of it. The other part of it is that a friend of ours has two boys who are older than our two boys, and we get all of her hand-me-downs. And she’s a shopaholic so we get garbage bags full of clothes on a regular basis. I haven’t even opened the last bag, and according to our friend most of this bunch still has tags on it…
Firstly, THANK YOU!!! We appreciate her gifts so much!
You’d think that by the time two to three boys have gone through a wardrobe it would be totally worn out, and I’m sure some of it is (feet poking through holes in the sleepers? Why, just cut the feet right off! (Of the sleepers!!) They’re now just open-toed sleepers, which are very cute), but most of it is still in good shape. Or, at least, it’s in good enough shape. It helps, I think, that there are so many items. I especially appreciate the volume when he goes outside a couple of times a day to play in his dirt-box; I can actually wait for an entire week before having to do laundry.
I’m also really not that picky at this point (my mom would have something to say about that, but she’s my mom, so it’s not surprising). The really ratty clothes are worn to play outside, and the nicer ones are reserved for public appearances.
As happy as I am with my kids’ wardrobes, can it provide more freedom of movement, independence, and freedom from distraction?
I’m happy to say that all of the big-boy clothes allow for freedom of movement, no questions asked. They mostly consist of sweat-pants and comfy jeans, comfy t-shirts and cozy sweaters. The only time they hinder movement is if the pants are too big and they keep falling down, or if they’re too small; I now have bins marked “Too Big” and “Too Small” and as we find these items, they get set aside for later or for Kid #2, respectively.
As for kid #2, he’s starting to crawl, and sometimes his legs get jammed up in the sleeper; when that happens we change him into pants and a shirt, and his freedom of movement is back.
I’m guessing that by independence they mean that the kids should be able to dress themselves. Socks on by himself: check. Pants on by himself: check (he’ll swear he needs your help, but with the right motivation, like my saying “you can’t go outside until your pants are on”, he can do it. Oh sure, he tries to tell you the next day that no, he can’t, but you just look at him and say, “Buddy, you whipped those pants up so fast yesterday, so I know you can”). Shirts on by himself: check-ish. We still have to hold the shirt in position, but once his arms are in he can pull it down over his head. Jackets: he still doesn’t believe you when you tell him which arm goes in which sleeve—it’s opposite of what he thinks it should be when he’s facing the jacket. Shoes: check 90% of the time!
Independence for baby #2: yeah, his view on that is struggle vigorously while you try to dress him because “MOM! I said I want to roll OVER! LET ME GO!!!” He’s only just starting to get the hang of pushing his own arm through a sleeve, but he still doesn’t tuck his thumb in, so it can be a bit tricky, especially when he’s vigorously struggling… We’ll wait a bit before we require him to dress himself.
Do my kids find their clothes distracting? Only when they hinder their movements in their quests to covertly get into trouble do they raise a fuss. (I guess that little girls in pretty little dresses might find it distracting to try and keep their dresses pretty while playing in the park. Mind you, I saw a teenaged girl in a pretty dress playing tag with her friends at a big playground—the jungle-gym posed no problem for her; her dad may’ve flipped a bird if he’d seen her acrobatics, though.)
Or, in this case, could they mean that the appearance of the clothes is distracting. IE, are the kids being overly concerned with labels and style (something I was never a slave to in high school, but I do understand the need to fit in)? At this point my kids are three and younger, so no. Kid #1 has even picked out his own outfits, and if he thinks he looks good in green and red in the middle of summer, who am I to shoot down his happy-balloon? My hope is less towards teaching him how to perfectly coordinate (like I’d know how to do that anyway), and more towards teaching him to have his own style (but to have a style and not just look like a bum), and to be strong enough to stand up for it by the time that it matters to other kids. I guess at that point, if the freebies aren’t their own style, I’ll have to start buying them their own choices (within monetary reason; they can spend their allowance on ridiculously priced items!).
But until then, I think that if the clothes are comfortable, allow my kids to move around however they want to and aren’t bugging them, and are easy to put on, what they have is just perfect.