Winter wear battles: Getting the kids dressed

Do you struggle to get your kids to wear their winter clothes?

Photo by HA! Designs via Flickr.

Robert Munsch’s Thomas’ Snowsuit should be required reading for all parents. In no other book have I ever found a solution for trying to get an uncooperative child into winter clothing.

I’d like to credit my children’s hardy prairie breeding as to why they refuse to wear winter boots, a warm coat and snow pants. Unfortunately, it’s a combination of stubbornness and aversion to scratchy textures that causes tantrums each time we get dressed to play outside.

Ontario’s cottage country enjoyed a very warm autumn, during which Gillian ran around barefoot and Isaac in a t-shirt. But this past weekend snow arrived and the sensible -30C Sorel boots I bought last spring on clearance have proven to be Gillian’s kryptonite — reducing my her to a screaming mess anytime we try to leave the house. The coat she happily wore last winter still fits but, for some reason, it gets the same reaction as the boots.

Everyone tells me it’s a stage she will grow out of and if I just put her outside in bare feet and a t-shirt, she’ll quickly realize that she should wear boots and a coat. The problem is, they don’t know my daughter: When I put her outside barefoot and coatless, she runs around as if having naked feet is the most normal thing in late November in Canada. My son at least has the sense to wear boots.

Gillian tested the patience of every shoe store salesperson in town. Each pair of boots, from the most expensive wool-lined designer brand to the cheapest rubber boots, gets put on then tossed across the store (except for anything pink — she’ll nicely put them back in the boxes). I’ve even tried bribing her, but she’s clever and knows that if she accepts my bribe, she’ll end up having to wear something on her feet. Thankfully, after a week of searching, she decided on a pair of loose-fitting handmade moccasins lined with wool and rabbit fur. They are adorable, although I’m not sure they will stay on when the snow gets deeper. Baby steps, right?

If it wasn’t for school, I’m sure my son would still be in shorts and a t-shirt. On the first day of heavy snow, he declared that his snow pants would make him the slowest runner in the entire school and left them at home. To his surprise, he got left inside during recess while all of his friends who wisely listened to their parents were outside playing in their snow pants. Grudgingly, Isaac has worn all of his winter gear since then. I’m considering smuggling my daughter into junior kindergarten just to get her to wear all of her outdoor winter clothing.

I never thought I’d be old enough to say, “you know, when I was a kid”, but you know, when I was a kid, I never argued about what I wore in the winter. I’m sure I never liked my snowsuit and if my boots were too cold we wore extra socks and if our boots were wet we wore the extra socks plus a plastic shopping bag. We knew there wasn’t extra money to go around and the threat of sending our boots to Africa along with our uneaten mashed potatoes was enough to make us wear whatever was put in front of us. (Yes, my parents used that threat).

So why am I going through all this effort to find boots that my daughter will actually wear when I was raised in a “put up or shut up” manner? Good question, one I’d love to give some thought to, but I’m going outside to play before my kids change their minds about liking mittens.

Photo by HA! Designs via Flickr.

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