One of my dear friends recently removed half her daughter's wardrobe from the closet. "She won't wear any of it!" she tells me in my kitchen on a Thursday afternoon, exasperated.
"She only wants to wear Elsa leggings and cat shirts. If I try to get her to wear something else, she throws a tantrum and refuses to get dressed."
I try not to laugh, but I cannot help myself. My (stylish) friend is 35 weeks pregnant and clearly losing this battle with her strong-willed daughter. I don't blame her for giving up. You have to choose your battles carefully when you're that pregnant.
"I've got a whole box of practically brand-new clothes sitting in the garage now," she sighs with an eye-roll.
I make her promise to give it to me if we ever have a girl.
My boys, while not fixated on Elsa leggings or cat t-shirts, are also surprisingly opinionated about their wardrobes. Everett started caring about his clothes around age three, and Carson (adorably and annoyingly) copies everything he does.
At first, I thought I could just buy them the types of clothes that I wanted them to wear, but then grandparents showed up with Paw Patrol t-shirts and what kind of mom throws out Paw-Patrol t-shirts?
(this mom.) (just kidding, I'm not heartless, I simply hid them at the bottom of the drawer.)
I know that dressing oneself is an essential life skill that requires practice. I try to embrace this idea when Everett wants to wear a dinosaur pajama shirt with corduroys and light-up shoes, instead of the skinny jeans and striped polo combo I picked out for him. But there is a time and a place for letting kids dress themselves.
And there is also a time and a place for ... helping them.
So here's a trick we use in our house: I curate; they choose.
On preschool picture day and birthday party days and certainly on church days, I present two options per kid and let them point their tiny finger to the outfit of their choice.
It's a win-win.
They feel empowered and independent; I feel happy and not embarrassed to be seen with them in public.
(just kidding, I'm never embarrassed to be seen with my kids in public!*) (*only when they're misbehaving.)
My current "we're-going-to-be-seen-in-public" outfit of choice arrived compliments of Janie and Jack - linen-blend shorts and a button-down shirt for Ev; white pocket tee and suspender shorts for Carson. I mean, look at them. They might be rocking mismatched pajamas and socks behind closed doors, but when they try, they clean up well.
(lollipop bribes help.)
Here's to our sweet, adorable, opinionated kids. May we occasionally leave the house looking better than boxcar children.
This post is sponsored by Janie and Jack, a company we love.