We wouldn’t let our kids leave the house or attend school wearing their pyjamas, so should parents be held to the same standards? One school principal in the U.K. believes so, and has asked parents not to accompany their kids to school without being dressed “appropriately in day wear.”
According to reports, the request was made by head teacher Kate Chisholm of Skerne Park Academy in Darlington, England, and reflected her concern that too many parents were not bothering to change out of their pyjamas before the morning drop-off. While it can be a little cringeworthy to see grown adults out and about during the day in Elmo-patterned pyjama pants, I have to wonder: Has Chisholm ever been in charge of getting kids through an early-morning routine and out the door to school on time? Because any parent that’s been in the trenches of the morning rush knows that it’s always hurried, sometimes harried, and attention to details—like our own wardrobe—often get lost in the shuffle.
Some mornings a parent just has to choose between being on time in pyjamas or being late in a suit. Mandating that parents must don an outfit more suitable than the clothes they woke up in before leaving the house does not help reduce household stress. Nor, as Chisholm claims in her letter to slovenly caregivers, does it actually help to “raise our children’s aspirations” in life.
It’s quite possible that the dad in the raggedy sweats just changed clothes after a gruelling night shift, but felt it important to walk his daughter to school before crashing for a few hours. And maybe the mom pulling into the drop-off zone wearing a robe and messy ponytail is about to go home to shower and start the staggered workday hours she fought hard to attain because there were no affordable options for morning childcare. Or maybe the woman in the snowflake-patterned pants just has a blessed day off and quite simply would like to enjoy the luxury of comfort and ease for a little while longer.
Any of these scenarios of pyjama-clad carpoolers reflect a concern that their kids’ needs are met, and that getting to school on time must sometimes be prioritized ahead of our own vanity. And, as Skerne Park Academy institutes a student dress code precisely so that clothing choices play a secondary role to academics, you would think that these are the exact lessons a principal would want parents to teach their kids—regardless of whether those parents are wearing Elmo or Armani.
Karen Green is a freelance writer in southwestern Ontario. She is the mother of two young girls.