“He was clad rather shabbily (but, as it seemed, more owing to his mother’s carelessness than his father’s poverty) in… very wide and short trousers, shoes somewhat out at the toes, and a chip-hat, with the frizzles of his curly hair sticking through its crevices.”
Many years later, Hawthorne’s description of “the little urchin” in House of the Seven Gables lives fresh in my mind.
None of us want to be that careless mother. Thankfully, it no longer takes the average mom hours with a needle in hand to make enough shirts to last her son through the summer.
Our problem is generally quite different: an over abundance.
As moms, the goal is simple: to start the morning in clean clothes. (Who can vouch for them after an hour at the park?!) You don’t need a dresser full of clothes or half a dozen pairs of shoes to accomplish this!
In fact, a simple wardrobe makes it easier to keep the children presentable. Have you ever stared blankly at a full closet wondering “What in the world should they wear?” By limiting the selection to a few durable outfits you (and they) like, when morning rolls round you don’t have to wade through a heap of clothes to find something appropriate. And matching.
Too many clothes is most American’s problem. Why not hand the excess on to someone who really needs?
Two simple questions help determine how many outfits your child needs to avoid “urchin status” and keep the wardrobe manageable.
How many messy is your child? My toddler can easily go through two or three outfits a day (and sons are, reportedly, even messier), but usually it is more like one to two outfits daily.
How often do you do laundry? Of course, if it isn’t dirty, don’t wash it! There’s nothing wrong with wearing the same outfit two days in a row.
With those two questions in mind (and using need in the loosest sense possible) what clothes does your child need to be presentable, cute and clean?
This list works for us:
- Dress clothes: Two or three outfits.
- Everyday clothes: Seven or eight outfits.
- Pajamas: In the summer a clean t-shirt and shorts work great. Then in the morning they’re set to play. In the winter a couple warm snugly pairs are nice.
- Shoes: dress shoes and a pair for everyday play (if they’re neutral all the better!)
- Socks and undies: a 8-10 pairs of socks for every day and a couple pairs of nice socks… and about twenty pairs of underwear if you’re potty training!
- For girls: Hair bands, ribbons and bows. The simplest difference between “urchin-like” and presentable is simply making sure hair isn’t covering the eyes.
- Summer fun: Swimwear, “wet shoes” (we LOVE crocs!) and a sunhat or two.
- Winter warmth: Jacket, gloves, hat and winter boots.
Another way to keep it simple if you have boys and girls is to gravitate towards neutrals. I’m all for masculine boys and feminine girls, but coats and play sandals, underwear and everyday socks don’t need to be covered in dolls or trucks. Leather, tan, chocolate, or any shade of green works for well for either gender.
photo by Siewlan