Most days I struggle to get dressed before my husband comes home. Yes, I will admit it! In my defense he comes home fairly early, but still! And one would think that my reticence to dress myself would carry over to my kids. One would think they wear their bed clothes most of the day. But, they are usually much better dressed (um…well, dressed) than I am.
My mother-in-law mentioned one time that she was surprised (pleasantly so, I think) that I dressed the girls each day instead of leaving them in their bed clothes. She said a lot of moms just keep their babies in their bed clothes. I don’t know…do you?
Well, I dress my girls most days, not because I like to put frilly things on them and play dress up (that’s just not my gig), but because I think it is part of a normal routine. And though I struggle to get myself dressed for the day pre-3PM, I still would like to leave the impression to my girls that getting dressed it part of everyday life. And yet…
There are some serious struggles with getting those girls dressed each day! We have names for the maneuvers and tactics our girls have for refusing to cooperate while dressing. Have you ever gotten the Stiff Leg? You know, the locking of the knee joint such that the leg can only be moved up and down (while laying down). It is commonly accompanied by the Ankle Magnet (when the ankles seem to be magnetized to one another preventing any clothing to pass over the feet and onto the legs).
Over time, I have developed some strategies of my own for getting these girls dressed without a lot of fussing and in a relatively short time. Here are the games we play while getting dressed:
Oh, I know this is not something new, but I thought I would start with an easy one. Even if your little one is too young to do the peek-a-boo thing, do it. It will magically click one day and you will hear a giggle. It is priceless. We do peek-a-boo for putting on ALL shirts, all shirts (even with our 2 and half year old).
Where is it?
This goes along with peek-a-boo. Have your child identify a body part that needs to be covered with clothing (i.e. the belly button). Then pull the shirt (please not the pants) over the spot and hide it. Do this a couple of times, asking where the body part is and when they point it out say, “There it is!”
Yeah – you know what I am talking about. This is for when you have standing little ones and you need to put pants on them. Stand them up on the changing table or floor, and instruct them to hold on to your shoulders. We say, “One, two, three!” Then pull their pants up around the diaper and gently lift them off the floor, holding them by the pants. You get the best snug fit and a happy camper. All I have to do for our youngest is say, “Let’s do “One, two, three” and she stands up and moves towards my shoulders with a smile on her face.
We Lost it
Have you noticed that some long-sleeved clothing (especially bed clothes) have ridiculously tiny sleeve openings at the wrists? It can be a struggle to put baby’s hand through the hole, even if you are sure you have the right fit. Encourage your little one to help you get her dressed by appearing to be very concerned over losing a particular body part. “Oh, no! We lost your fingers! Where did those fingers go?” Baby will begin to push his fingers or feet through the hole and will be delighted when he finds them! Make sure to express deep relief when they are found! “Whew, I thought we had lost them forever!”
Mama, Will you Hold My Hand?
Sometimes encouraging little ones to put their arms through a sleeve can be a little more difficult than others. At these times, I ask my little one to hold my hand and then move their arm to the sleeve and get it started through the sleeve. Then I let go of her hand and switch to We Lost It or Peek-A-Boo, depending on the sleeve length. I told you, I’ve got game!
Some dressing sessions I have to use all these tricks and some I only need a couple. And still there are those times when baby just does not want to cooperate. Showing patience and speed are the keys to the struggle.
What do you do to get your little ones dressed?