I recently read an article that explained how to get a toddler dressed in 50 steps. I was immediately confused and intrigued and therefore understood why some persons commenting on said article were angry. Just reading the topic alone, like I did at first, makes the average parent say “HUH? Why so many steps? ” But after actually reading the article, I realized that it was meant to funny, sarcastic and an article that ONLY a parent (with patience) could read all the way through.
Dealing with toddlers isn’t easy. And because of the huge 14 year gap between my second and third child I had almost forgotten how terrifyingly frustrating it could really be. So, the only way to keep my head from falling right off my shoulders is to STAY ORGANIZED. Also, a little planning ahead of the actual “event” of getting dressed usually makes the process a lot easier.
Here’s my strategy :
- Stay Organized: Designate a spot for everything and teach the kid to put things where they need to go. Upon entering our home my daughter (3 yrs old) knows the process: shoes off, coat and sweater off and hung (on hooks she can reach), use bathroom (if necessary), wash hands.
- Clothes: In the morning her clothes are chosen before she even wakes up. But if she is awake I have her help pick out an outfit and take items into the bathroom. By this time she has already had a glass of chocolate milk — actual breakfast is at daycare since she likes to eat with her friends. Once in the bathroom the door is shut. She uses the bathroom, gets washed, brushes teeth, then is dressed. The idea behind dressing in bathroom? It’s less drafty and is a confined space with less distraction and no room to run off. Also, this space gives me a chance to be close — give hugs and kisses as we chat about the day ahead and how she should behave at school or at work with me.
- Hair: I used to do her hair in the bathroom too but realized that once dressed we would both start overheating so I moved that process to the dining table. There, we have room to lay out all the items needed to fix her hair: comb, brush, hair lotion, scrunchies, clips. These items soon become impromptu toys which she uses to distract herself — imaginative play — as I go to work as fast as I can. I also use this time to teach matching and counting: clips and scrunchies to match colors of her outfit and number of clips needed for all her ponytails. When finished, she gets to put clips back into the jar while I put the other items away.
- Shoes: At 3 she can put shoes on alone but she’s still learning how to put them on the right foot. Of late, instead of putting shoes on (wrong) then have me tell her to switch, she now asks me which is the right foot first so she does it correctly with no do-overs. ^_^
- Coat: She knows how to button her sweater and she just learned how to grab the sleeve of the sweater so it’s not stuck inside the sleeve of the coat as she pushes her hand into the coat. Next I have to teach her how to zip the coat. Working on it…
So there! Five steps not fifty. Not as funny as the article, but a lot less stressful.