A couple of weeks ago, the weather changed in Georgia from burning HOT to CHILLY overnight. Halloween night to be exact. For grownups, a change in wardrobe is usually kind of welcome! You may have a whole section of "fall or winter" clothes that haven't been used in months. Changing to a hoodie may feel so good! Hello warm and cozy!!!!
But for kids, change isn't always welcome.
"I don't want pants!" "Long sleeves feel weird!" "I'm too hot!" "Its too itchy!" "I hate this jacket!"
I have heard it ALL!
To them, jeans and jackets and coats and pants may seem tight and hot and itchy and all kinds of other describing words that they can come up with to prove that fall clothes are a no-go!
It can leave us mommas in quite a sweat. What do you mean you don't want to wear these cute new leggings that you picked out last week??? You loved them when you spotted them at Target. You twirled that dress like it was Made For You in the fitting room. You HAD to have it.
But today, when the weather is right for it, here you are, in your floor, tears flowing, feet kicking, and I just know, war could potentially be on.
With our first, WAR WAS ON. I was a young momma, thinking if I didn't win all the battles, I was weak, inefficient, not cut out for mothering. I'd sweat. Cry. Kinda panic...what is wrong with this child??? Why all the fuss over clothes. Clothes that you loved when you tried them on. If you've been reading for a while, I've written about this before. About how day after day, getting ready to go anywhere seriously felt like going to battle with our first. Years! Years! I fought her. I begged, bribed, threatened, sweated, and felt defeated on a daily basis. I was exhausted by the time I'd drop our oldest off with a sitter or at school.
Some moms would say to me, "Pick your battles wisely" and I was like yeah, let me see you let your kid go to school without a coat or pants or long sleeves. I desperately wanted to be a "good" momma. A momma with a kid who was dressed appropriately. Looking adorable. Wearing the clothes that I'd spent our hard earned money on. What kind of mom let her three year old run the show anyway????
Oh, if I could only get a redo! I am so sorry Lilly. My strong will and your strong will was quite the show for your dad who always ended up as referee. I'd often end up ticked off at him too, because he'd always say, "let her take the natural consequence. After a few days of being cold, she'll learn!" But my pride was too great for that. I was far too worried about what people would think and besides, I really just wanted to be a good mom with an obedient child who saw things my way.
Fast forward several years, another child who is almost EXACTLY like her big sister, and she is basically free as bird to wear what she wants to wear. Same dress to church every Sunday, sure. Same dress to preschool every few days. Sure. (Don't worry, I do laundry everyday. It's clean.) Short sleeves on a chilly day. Sure thing. And for her older brother... Bow tie with a polo. You're looking good dude!
With 4 kids and 10 years of added age, I've mellowed out a lot. I've learned a lot. Read a lot. Cried a lot. Prayed a lot. I'm no longer trying to prove myself to anyone. I'd rather show up with a joyful, confident, decision-making child, than a child who has just gone to war with me. They feel comfortable, they are learning to make decisions for themselves, and sometimes they are learning the hard way that a jacket isn't such a bad thing. I show up with my sanity and smile on my face. It's win-win for all of us.
I still have standards. You have to be clean, your hair has to be brushed or styled in a way that you want it, and your teeth have to be brushed. Your clothes are your choice. I am famous for getting rid of things that are no longer fitting or stained or just aren't quite right. (They never notice!) I don't buy them anything that I don't approve of them wearing.
I also give them the freedom to change their mind. I've been known to return a thing or two in my lifetime, for myself and our kids. I used to think, if you liked in the store, you should like it at home, but then I remember that I also LOVE things in the store, and then wear it at home for a minute and realize that NOPE! It's really not my jam! Our kids have the freedom to change their mind.
That's it. Maybe you agree. Maybe you disagree. If you have a child with sensory issues or is apt to change their mind, let them. Give them the freedom to change. Let them be chilly for a day. And NO ONE is judging you. I promise. If they are, who cares! You aren't in a completion for best dressed child. Letting kids make some decision about their day and what they'll wear is great practice for grown-up life. Give them choices and let them be confident in what they choose. Our boy is on his 6th day of wearing a bow tie to church and school. I'm guessing he may be the ONLY kid in his public school that wears a bow tie, but that's okay. I love that he's confident enough to be who he wants to be and wear what makes him feel good, even if he's the only one.
Your kids will go through all kinds of phases. No dresses. Only dresses! No jeans. Only jeans! Love leggings, hate leggings. Hair Bows are cool. Hair Bows aren't cool anymore. Pigtails are everything! Pigtails are for babies. There will be cowboy boot phases and bowtie phases and God only knows what teenage years are going to bring our way!
My point is, they're all phases. They come and go. Embrace them. Love them. Let them make some choices about how they leave the house, even if it is not what YOU would choose. For me, cleanliness is not negotiable, hair-dos are! Clothes are. Shoes are.
I love to hear people say, Your kids are so Joyful or Your kids are always so Happy. That's it. That's what I'm aiming for. (Although I assure you...they are not always joyful and happy!) I want them to be confident. Joyful. Comfortable. A light to others around them. Not kids that are ticked off because their momma made them wear braids or jeans that they now hate and are miserable wearing. I want to care more about what's going on on the inside than just how they appear on the outside.
You're still an AMAZING momma if your kiddo makes a different choice than you. Think about your response BEFORE you say NO! Is this really worth war this morning???? Sometimes we have to swallow our pride and let them live and learn.
Try it. I bet you will have more Joy in the Chaos at your house! A win-win approach to life is SO much better!