Tips For Getting Kids Dressed In The Morning
Rise and shine! Imagine it is 6:30am, my husband is on his way out the door for work and I am trying to get four kids under the age of seven fed, dressed, and shuttled to three different schools and daycare. Emotions can be overwhelming in the mornings, ranging from sleepy to hungry (or maybe one of us just hasn’t had enough coffee)! But within the last year, another morning issue began to make a regular appearance: our son’s hyper-sensitivity to the feel of some clothes.
Socks: No way - this meant changing his smelly shoes more often.
Underwear: Forget about it. In shorts this seemed inappropriate.
Tags: Absolutely not. If I didn’t remove them to his satisfaction, he would pull them out, which meant holes in a lot of his clothes.
It was likely a gradual progression to this stage in his particularness, but it seemed to come crashing down on us all at one time. I began researching the issue and it turns out sensitivity to clothing is common and something that can be outgrown, eventually. Knowing it will take time to overcome this stage in our lives and as a mom driven to make our home a happy environment, I was determined to find a way to manage these big morning obstacles while still dressing my child nicely (to include underwear and without holes).
Strategies we found that helped our son and ultimately our mornings as a family on the move:
We made all the necessary clothing adjustments. We removed clothing tags with a seam ripper. We purchased new underwear, undershirts and socks that did not have any lines or noticeable threads. We layered clothing he liked under clothing he disliked, so that he only felt the nice first layer. We made sure the first layer is soft or natural fabric!
When his feelings became overwhelming, we would sit down and take three deep breaths. Some mornings we needed to get dressed in stages. First our underwear, next brush our teeth, come back for our undershirt, eat breakfast, put on our shorts, get a drink, finish up with our shirt, brush our hair, and finish with socks and shoes.
If all else failed and he called me into help with his socks, I would consistently distract him with conversations about topics he loved. Sometimes I would pull out random facts I know about dinosaurs (I actually just research this to stay relevant and cool to my kid) or ask him detailed questions about Minecraft, which inevitably leaves me on the receiving end of a five-minute impassioned lecture on the benefits of creative mode!
TRY BEFORE COMMITTING
We gave a new piece of clothing several short tries before we committed to adding it to our school attire rotation. We spent the weekend trying to break in clothing we weren’t sure about.
ACCEPTABLE CLOTHING PILE
Have a pile of acceptable school clothes, let that be the only pile they can access, and make sure there are options. This also gives children the autonomy to make choices for themselves (an important lesson for raising successful kids).
When you think you have enough time, always leave more. If that means getting up 30 minutes earlier, do it! It will be extremely important for your child to have enough undisturbed time to get dressed and you will feel less stressed about getting out the door.
EARLY DEPARTURE WARNING
Everyone gets their shoes on approximately 10 minutes before we need to leave the house. This way we have less surprises about socks and our shoes. This allows enough time to fix any issues, while also distracting the kids enough with a book or something fun, helping us leave the house on a happier note. I also keep books or toys in the mudroom where we put on our shoes.
Stay calm. Preparing yourself with ample time for a potentially harsh morning is key for me. Hope for the best but plan for the worst! Now that you recognize clothing can be a major struggle for your child, you can anticipate when they might need more emotional support and be there for them. If you decide you need more tools or additional support try reaching out to an Occupational Therapist for guidance.
Several months into our new morning routine, I am happy to report we are well-adjusted and back to calmer mornings. Yes, hiccups happen but we have tools in place to help us move past those overwhelming feelings and out the door! I assume this dislike of his clothing will be but a mere wrinkle in time. For now, I have prepared for it to be a wrinkle in only a few of our future outfits.