Guess what we are talking about today . . . yep kiddos! I am a firm believer in teaching my kids to take care of themselves. There are a lot of areas in our lives where I am trying to teach this, but one in particular is clothing. Aside from doing their laundry, my kids are managing their own clothing. Here's what the 3 and 4 year old are doing . . .
- They get up in morning and take off their diaper (if they have one) and pajamas. The diaper goes in the trash and the pajamas go in the dirty clothes. Now that the two year old is walking (it started three weeks ago) he throws away his diaper and puts his pajamas in the dirty clothes.
- They pick out their clothes for the day. I don't pick out their clothes with them the night before, I think this may work great for a lot of families. For our family we just do it in the morning. Sometimes I may say you should bring pants or socks downstairs because it's going to be cold or rainy or whatever. I don't force them to put those extra clothes on, I just say it might be smart to have extras at school. They may chose to listen to me, they may not. The 4 year old is now asking what the weather is going to be like before he gets dressed.
- They get dressed and (for the most part) politely ask for help if they need it. And if they don't ask politely I happily ignore their screaming until they calm down. And yes, sometimes I want to punch the wall to keep calm . . . because the screaming can really drive me nuts. But I am not about to help a kid who is rudely asking for help. Talk about positive reinforcement for bad behavior, just ignore that crap.
- The kids pick out their shoes and put on their socks and shoes and again ask for help if they need it.
- They grab their jackets, vests, hats etc. I do not do this for them. I mention the weather again, and make suggestions. Now, if someone has a cold they know I am going to insist they dress a little warmer. Or we are headed outdoors for an extended period of time, I say bring this and that because we are going hiking or whatever. But, for the day to day stuff, they pick. We don't live in an extreme climate here. Don't fight this battle with your kids about wearing a jacket. It is not worth it! Let them go to school without a coat. They may not get to go outside for recess, but guess who won't forget a coat next time! Let your kids take their coats off when they outside running around. Don't say, no it's too cold you can't take your jacket off. Let them. You are teaching them to be in charge of and to listen to their bodies. If they are hot let them take their jacket off, guess what, when they get cold they will run over and put their jackets back on! Two of our boys wear shorts and no jackets to school everyday. Kids are little heaters!
- Back to kids and clothes . . . . At night, the kids put their clothes from the day in the dirty clothes and hop in the shower. I help them shower and then they grab their pajamas and put them on . . . again politely asking for help if they need it. And when I say ignoring them, I mean it. I don't say, ask politely and I will help you . . . I mean ignore!
- And here's the kicker, my kids put their clean clothes away. It is such a HUGE weight off my back. Two years ago I realized the two year old could get his clothes out of the drawer and for the most part get himself dressed so why couldn't he also put is clothes away too! I started teaching him that day.
- To keep all this simple I DO NOT BUY OUR KIDS A LOT OF CLOTHES!!!! I probably buy clothing twice a year for them unless they have a huge growth spurt. I figure they love wearing the same thing over and over again, so why not just stick with a few items I know they will wear. Yes, I know the kids clothes are so cute, but don't put yourself in a situation where your kids drawers are over flowing with clothing! They don't need it! It gives them too many choices! It makes you irritated because you just see dollar bills spilling out of their closets and dressers. And it gives you tons of extra laundry. And if you ever blame your child for having too many clothes (and toys for that matter), go stand in front of the mirror and slap yourself in the face! Your kids didn't buy them!
- As for shopping these little rug rats go shopping with me or sit on my lap while we do it together on line. It's rare that we buy anything they don't wear.
So far all of this is going great for me. It's been a lot and I mean a lot of work, but so worth it!