Struggling to get your little one to leave the house in weather-appropriate clothes? We’ve all been there!
Winter sneaks up on you and it’s 12 degrees outside but your child is insisting on wearing their favourite outfit – which in my case consisted of one pink lace sock, one white, sandals and a pretty lace summer dress. You see, the negotiations have been a little intense in our household lately due to the change of season and a sassy 4 year old that has a very strong opinion on what she wants to wear each day – freezing temps or not.
This week I turned up to preschool drop off to realise I wasn’t the only one! Sure enough, upon looking around in the playground I saw an assortment of fashion ranging from ‘Summer Chic’ to a few (obviously compliant) children sporting outfits suitable for Arctic temps. It’s no wonder I was met with such resistance from a child that couldn’t understand why I was being such a ‘naughty mummy’ (her words) for not letting her wear her sandals when her friends were. I happened to mention my frustration to another school mum, who confessed her morning had looked very similar – although I’m convinced my child is in a whole league of her own when it came to the epic tantrum that morning.
Personal challenge accepted.
These things always end up a personal challenge for me and I search for techniques that I can implement from my expert panel. How can we eliminate the negotiations, tantrums and meltdowns each morning over something as simple as getting dressed?
I came up with 5 of my favourite tips from our experts and after a few consistent days of working through it, we have success. Today we turned up in tights, singlet, long sleeve shirt, knitted cardi, socks and shoes. She of course had to throw on a mismatched hair accessory just to have the final say, but who’s arguing that one.
1. Pack away out of season clothes & shoes
Might seem an obvious one but how many of us get caught off guard by the change in season. We also just got back from a lovely holiday in a hotter climate, which made the transition a lot more sudden. Of course you’ll need layers for in between seasons but for the obvious stuff like sandals, light dresses and beachwear – pack it away! Out of sight, out of mind is my theory and it will mean you have an easier wardrobe to manage – especially if your little one likes digging into it themselves and leaving it in a jumbled mess.
Now you might be met with resistance initially when they go searching for that pretty summer dress but just repeat to them that it is no longer summer and time to enjoy their winter wardrobe. I bet your little one will soon forget about all of those beautiful dresses before the week is over and enjoy accessorising with their accessible winter warmers instead.
2. Involve them in the process
Children start expressing their autonomy from as early as 14 months and once their language expands, the soon realise they can say ‘NO’. They discover the fact that they have control over their body and can resist when it comes to what they eat, wear or whether or not they are going to get into the carseat. Sound familiar? The battle for getting dressed each day is them expressing their autonomy and when that toddler has a very clear picture of what they want in their mind, it can get thrown of course very quickly when you put a stressor on their little brain. This stressor can be something as simple as telling them they can’t wear what they want to – cue instant tantrum.
Something I always learnt from our Child behaviour Expert, Stephanie Wicker from Simply Kids is that you need to involve them in the process, so that they feel empowered and in control. So how can you do this? Start ‘asking’ them instead of ‘telling’ them. i.e “What shoes do we need to wear outside when it’s cold?”, “What do we need to put on before we leave the house – it’s cold outside” or even throw in a choice “Would you like to wear your pink socks or white socks today?” Always give praise when they get it right… a simple high five can work wonders. Before you know it, they will love making the ‘right’ calls – even if you are leading them to the preferred outcome.
3. Choose outfits the night before
If your house is anything like mine, mornings can get very chaotic – and fast! I was always a very organised person but over the years of managing little people and business, I had to rework my daily routine. Something I always found helpful was to plan the night before or in the words of Lorraine Murphy , Author of Get Remarkably Organised “Do something today that your future-self will thank you for”. For me this means preparing the baby’s bottles for the next day, pre-packing lunch boxes (well as much as possible) and having the kids outfits picked and ready to go.
My only additional tip in the interest of this article, is to revert to point 2. and involve them in the process! Otherwise this little tip may not work and you will be back to those tough negotiations in the morning. I do this by getting my little one excited about choosing her outfit by looking at the forecast together, discussing the season/weather and what’s appropriate (they love learning!) and then selecting each item together. There is a lot of praise and ‘good choice!’ being used throughout the process. If they try to change their mind in the morning, quickly remind them that this was the special outfit they selected for themselves the night before.
4. The ‘Launch Pad’
The launchpad is a new thing for us and a very clever idea from our Home organising Expert, Anita Birges from Mise en place. This is where you have an area set up in your house to place things when you get home and to prepare for the next day. This could simply be one of those cube-type storage systems, a small cupboard or space in an existing cupboard. It becomes the area for you to ‘launch’ each day and ensures that you have everything you need.
For us we make sure that backpacks, hats, water bottles and lunch bags are all ready to go – and we keep their chosen outfit here too. I prefer for my kids to eat breakfast in their PJs so they can ‘wake up’ first and don’t feel like they are being rushed (another trigger for a meltdown) plus I find this crucial for ensuring that they don’t end up wearing their Weetbix to daycare or pre-school. If you have something special on the next day. i.e hat parade, show and tell or bring your favourite book day – it can go in here the night before as well. There is nothing worse than running around looking for things in the morning.
The Launchpad is also where they can ‘set down’ each day when they get home. After a few days of you demonstrating how it works, they will be running in to put their own bags away in no time. Be sure to teach them where empty lunch boxes i.e the sink, so they can unpack that and put it away. This becomes really helpful for you and empowers them with achieving things for themselves.
5. Don’t sweat the small stuff
As in my case, if they walk out that door sporting an accessory or item that doesn’t quite match – let them go for it. It really isn’t worth the battle, arguing over a non matching hair accessory (or perhaps even mis-matched socks) if you have worked hard in following all of these steps and they throw a curve ball by insisting on adding something wacky to it. Just be satisfied you managed to achieve getting them out the door with weather appropriate clothes on – minus the tantrum.