Accidental Parenting Success

Accidental Parenting Success

Throughout parenthood, conscious parenting choices have been made. Starting with where you want to deliver and extending to screentime, schooling, daycare, discipline styles, and many more things. There is much to consider, research, discuss with professionals and peers, and plan for. But sometimes, the parenting choices you unconsciously make are the ones that bring the most pride; Accidental Parenting Success! 

One thing that wasn’t in the conversations my husband and I had during parenting was how our kids would dress. Since they could pick between two items, we’ve been letting our kids select their outfits. A little of this was for the practice of independence, a little to let them express themselves freely, and a lot because I needed one decision to be off of my plate and on someone else’s.

Our Five-Year-Old

Our oldest is now five. She has gone through every outfit stage. She started with matching leggings, socks, and dresses because they all had sparkles, no matter the colors or patterns. Long socks with the pants tucked inside, skirts under dresses so that they do “more fluffy spins,” the loudest colored Crocs with every outfit. Her style evolution has genuinely been one for the ages. It has been a joy to watch her go from mismatched everything to her uniform of H&M dresses ($4.99! Stock up!) and with leggings underneath to where she is now. Understanding that the tag of clothing is typically worn in the back. Usually, there’s some sort of focal point to an outfit.

Our Three-Year-Old

The three-year-old has had his style change. He went from only blue clothes to only Spidey shirts to only his Spidey costume in 12 months. And, along with all of those changing requirements, one thing has remained the same: his bottoms are always on backward. Because he wants a tail, and the drawstring that often comes on toddler pants fills that role perfectly.

Then came Switcher Socks, which is his version of mismatched socks. And this evolved into Switcher Pajamas and, my personal favorite, Switcher Shoes. Any chance he has to wear something mismatched, he takes it. There tend to be fewer patterned or colorful bottoms in his wardrobe. However, he has a pair of yellow sweatpants that are washed more often than the rest of his clothes, so they’re always in rotation. Hence, his outfits tend to follow at least a little, but the character shirts, backward shorts, and mismatched shoes highlight the outfit the child selected.

Our Nine-Month-Old

Even the baby is in on the action now! He is nine months old and has started having options presented to him when it’s time to get dressed. I often curate them, so they tend to match more, but sometimes the big kids need to help, and when that happens, who knows how he’ll be styled! While his outfits tend to be tamer, thanks to his capsule wardrobe being chosen by me, I hope that the exercise in outfit selection helps him with decision-making the same way it has helped his siblings.

Confident and Comfortable

To me, the best part about this has been their confidence. They are comfortable in the clothes they wear. No dress or mismatched shoes have stopped them from climbing, running, jumping, or creek-stomping through life. And they know they look good. I often find them looking at themselves in the mirror, twirling around to see how they look from all angles, or doing what they call “outfit tours,” listing off their carefully selected clothing items to anyone who will listen.

Having the kids pick their clothing has been one of the most notable parenting choices because they’re seen. Anyone who looks at our kids will (hopefully) know they are being allowed to express themselves in the way they see fit. And I hope that as they grow and the things they choose become more important than the clothes they wear, they’ll continue to be independent, take risks, and express themselves freely while having the security that mom and dad will be there cheering them on.

Second, my tips for success are:

If this is something you want to try, first, good luck.

  • Have a capsule wardrobe, 10-15 pieces for each clothing category, to help lessen decision overwhelm
  • Have some theme to their wardrobe; our themes are H&M dresses for my oldest, character shirts for my middle, and easily covered stains for the baby
  • Put away the out-of-season clothing; this way, they can’t pull out a tank top in December or fleece in the summer
  • Talk about colors and how they go together; point out colors that go together in patterns or items of clothing they’re wearing
  • Model the outfit selection process you go through!

This is something that can feel overwhelming as a parent, especially at a time when you can feel hyperaware of how others are viewing your child. That being said, this parenting decision also earned one of the few compliments we’ve received (side note, we should compliment each other in their parenting more often. A lot of parenting is unappreciated labor, but we should appreciate it more!). Within the first month of school, our daughter’s preschool teacher asked if we let her dress. When we said yes, she said, “it is so great that you do that. She will always feel comfortable in her skin since you let her express herself already.” And that, friends, feels pretty great.

Make sure you never miss out on a parenting or community-related blog post: sign up to receive Cedar Rapids Moms posts in your inbox. While you’re at it, join our VIP List to ensure you’re one of the first to know about upcoming Cedar Rapids Moms’ events and promotions!