This may make me unpopular, but I am “that” mom who always dresses her kids up, and generally, coordinates and matches their wardrobe. If I leave the house before my kids are dressed for the day I will leave out clothes for my husband or babysitter to put on them. I undoubtedly spend far more time, and likely resources on my kid’s attire than on my own, and I will not apologize for, rationalize, or defend my choice to dress-up my two young sons for just about any public outing. I can tell you without a shred of hesitation that you are more likely to see my kids streaking through Target naked (and I don’t totally discount that it could happen) before you will see them with bed-head and soiled or old clothing out in public. I don’t judge parents who choose to do otherwise and believe me as a mom of two young boys it would make life much easier if I didn’t constantly obsess over their appearance. So why do I feel the need to do it anyway?
Let me start by asking you a question: Would you show up to a job interview in your night clothes? How about out to lunch with your girlfriends in stained, mismatched sweats? Probably not; so why would you let your kids go out that way? Aren’t the impressions we make in this world important? Don’t we as humans make certain assumptions about people based on how they are dressed and how they present themselves? If you are saying no to this right now you are not being honest because you can’t honestly tell me that you don’t assume that someone in a suit is headed to the office, or similarly assume that a child dressed in a uniform is headed to school.
You see I am the type of person who generally dresses business-casual in a casual work environment. I will at least throw on clean clothes and brush my hair and teeth before running to the grocery store. I wouldn’t be caught dead out with my girl friends without makeup and venue appropriate attire. This is because I put a value on myself, and I want to present that to the world. I know that regardless of what I may wish were the case, other people’s perception of me DOES matter. People make the same presumptions about my children, and it reflects on me as a parent as well.
I know that if I entered a nice restaurant with two dirty, disheveled children the impression I would create would be one of a parent who doesn’t care much about how others perceive my children, which for all intents and purposes includes their behavior, manners, decorum, etc. Alternately, if I arrive with well-groomed children in blazers, slacks and loafers the opposite perception is likely true, and we will be treated accordingly.
Truth be told, I have been doing it for so long that my kids honestly love it! My oldest had a meltdown about having to wear mismatched clothing on “Crazy Day” at school, and my youngest asks to, “get dressed up and go outside” just about every day. That isn’t to say that I don’t let my kids wear t-shirts and jeans, or run around and get dirty when we are at home. My kids are like any kids who frequently turn up with popsicle mustaches and Cheeto-stained fingers, and the amount of clothing that is rapidly destroyed and disposed of in my house is too vast to contemplate. But when it comes to taking my kids out in public where they are on display for all to judge I make sure they are clean, neat and presentable at all times (at least until the next Slurpee disaster).