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Stress Free Toddler & Kid Dressing

Believe it or not, the easiest kids in my house to dress in the morning have always been the ones under 7 years old.

My kids have a real sense of style, and like to pick out their own clothes. Unfortunately this can result in them requesting to wear a bathing suit top, a tutu, and rain boots to school on a frosty day. At least they got the boots right…

My husband, who also dresses them in the morning sometimes, suffers from a common male parent ailment. He can’t seem to figure out the difference between pajama tops and T-shirts, or which kid the garments actually belong to.

It’s so obvious to me. Pants should stay up and shins shouldn’t be showing. But what do I know…

Actually, I’ll forgive him the size thing. Sizes are so relative and there is always that gray area when a garment is in between two kids. It’s really too big on one, too small on the other. Which kid’s drawer should it go in? Nobody knows. This conundrum often leads to the garment being stashed on a top shelf of the closet and forgotten until it’s too small for both kids.

Perhaps I am a control freak, and perhaps it’s because I spent so many years as a children’s clothing designer, but it PAINS me to see my kids go to school in a mismatched, out of season, wrongly sized outfit.

Literally, I feel a pain in my gut and wonder if I need medical attention. Or a shrink. Arguing about outfits is a sure way to derail an already rushed morning.

This is why I came up with a system many years ago, that I have stuck with for all four kids. It’s been pretty foolproof. This system has saved us so much stress, that it’s my first answer when people ask me “How do you do it?!” with four kids.

It’s so simple: Rather than folding & stacking my younger kids clothes in drawers, I hang outfits in their closets.

When I fold clothes for them, I don’t bother folding. I stack long sleeved tees in one pile, short in another. I put pants in a stack, and shorts in a stack and then I commence matching and hanging. About once a month I go through and make sure the outfits are seasonal and take outgrown clothing from the rotation.

Some rules that make it easier:

  • Shorts & skirt outfits go on wooden or plastic  “clip” style hangers
  • Pants outfits go on plastic hangers that the pants can fold over
  • Dresses and sweaters/jackets go on wooden hangers without clips
  • All outfits take my kids preferences into account – there is at least one garment that they love the color, style or texture of in every combo.
  • Some weekend days each month are negotiable. When we have no place to go… I keep the “extra” tops and bottoms in drawers and invite creative dressing on those days. Usually they end up choosing pajamas instead!

From the age of 3 on, my children have been able to go to the closet and pick an appropriate outfit, be it a shorts or pants one. They really love feeling like they are in charge of their own fashions, and I don’t have to sweat about their choices. My husband or an older sibling can also successfully grab an outfit for the toddler.

As a result, our mornings go so much smoother and my kids generally dress correctly for the season/activity.

Now to do this for myself… It would make my life easier on groggy mornings too!

Do you keep your family festively stylish during the holidays? We’re giving away three $50 Target giftcards to brighten the season! To enter for a chance to win, simply comment on this post with a personal tip on how you dress your children conveniently — and with style — during the holidays!

A big thanks to Target for sponsoring this campaign. Click here to see more of the discussion.

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