As someone who has a passion for making things looks pretty in the home, I’m not going to lie that when the children were both babies, and even up until now, I thoroughly enjoyed dressing them in a way that pleased the style lover in me. Not necessarily spending a lot of money (although actually I dread to think how much it all added up to for such a short amount of wear!), and not even sticking to one look or palette, but still very coordinated, certainly thought out, and most definitely easy on the eye.
Fast forward and Freddie has just turned 5, and Sasha will be 4 in May. Both have recently started to have a big say in how they dress themselves, and wow, has this made me realise what a control freak I can be sometimes! I inwardly wince when S comes down the stairs holding the clothes she has chosen for her day at preschool. I would never show it, but some of the combinations make my eyes bleed, and not in a cool ‘clashy’ way, but in an “aaaargh- that looks so random and not at all a good look” sort!
In an attempt to be more laid back, I took both children to H&M the other week, and said they could choose some clothes themselves (damn you, growth spurts). Their little faces lit up, and they were ridiculously excited. After much deliberation, the choices were (in my eyes) dubious: a pair of ‘Minions’ leggings, a ‘My Little Pony’ hoodie (actually I quite liked this), a ‘Frozen’ jumpsuit, a ‘Frozen’ fleece and a heinous pink top with puppies and kittens on that said ‘#Selfie’ on it. F chose a selection of ‘character’ Tshirts and some colour-mismatched trousers and hoodies. I deliberately kept my mouth shut, not wanting to influence their decisions in any way, and even though it was killing me, I held my nerve.
At the till whilst reluctantly handing over that jumpsuit to the cashier, I was channeling my inner Elsa to ‘Let it Go’, and you know what? I’m now so glad I did. The look of pride on their faces after making their choices was epic, and I’d happily accept a million grim ‘Minions’ outfits if it makes them that happy. Because painful as it is for me <tongue firmly in cheek>, I guess I’m realising that ‘character’ clothing/bedding/tat is a part of what childhood is all about. My kids hopefully have years left of enjoying this stuff before they become teenagers and discover their inner Goth, Kappa tracksuits (these will come back you know) or whatever trend is being peddled by Teen Vogue et al in 2026.
This time will fly.
If you’re thinking that what I’m writing is rather over the top (I’m talking about kids clothes after all), you may be right, BUT it is symptomatic of an overall shift you have as a parent when your little ones get older. You are obviously still ‘in charge’, and guide them, but there comes a day when it dawns on you that you can’t make all their decisions for them, and they have to grow and stretch their wings. Even if you don’t always like and agree with their choices- Something I’m realising already only 5 short years in to this parenting lark.
You can compromise and meet in the middle. But letting them have their say is surely one of the best ways of instilling self-confidence, that they have faith in themselves that they are making the best choices for them, even if that choice is only based around a pair of leggings.
My (perhaps) sweeping observation as someone who uses social media a lot is that as a generation we are often over-styled, over materialistic, and largely control freaks, lest we let anyone see our less glorious moments. And I think that this can often extend to our children. We want them to look fabulous, have beautiful, aesthetically pleasing toys, and reside in amazing bedrooms (raises hand) that don’t have a whiff of character tat (Donna wrote a great post on this subject a while ago). Or it can go the other way, with people portraying ‘simple lives’ and photos of their child dressed in muted tones, apparently having a whale of a time with a
dog turd encrusted stick, and “that’s all little Johnny will play with until Christmas”.
There is nothing wrong with either end of the spectrum perse (and you know I LOVE beautiful things for my kids!), but each has an element of control freakery, and this is now something that I’m trying to let go of more myself.
We’re off to Disneyland next weekend, and whilst I’m bracing myself for requests for all manner of Mickey Mouse and Disney Princess tat, I’m going to try and embrace it as well.
You’re only 32 once, right? 😉
Oh, I’m so like you. But yes, there is a middle ground. I let my eldest loose in H&M last year and he had the BEST time!!! It really was a joy to see him run round. He actually chose a few things from the girls’ range which I thought was amazing – he loves (or loved, at the time) really bright skinny trousers with checks or patterns and they don’t make many for boys. I think brands could definitely take a lot more of a unisex approach to clothing. Minions are cropping up rather a lot here and I’m not so sure I can turn a blind eye for much longer, though 😉
The Minions clothes are EVERYWHERE! I agree with more unisex clothing. I love the swedish/scandi brands but they’re quite expensive! x
This is such a wonderful post, Becky. I imagine that I would be a lot like you but I’m not sure if I would be able to let it go. Reading about your children’s pride in choosing and wearing their own clothes melted my heart though, and it sounds like you made a wonderful decision in letting them do that!
Aah thanks Jaime, they really did enjoy it! I’m not sure I’m ready to fully hand over control of the wardrobes yet, but I;m trying 😉
I couldn’t agree with you more Becky. My little lady from a fairly young age has been very particular when it comes to clothes. Never was I a girly girl, dressing her in head to toe pink and floral, but I did relish in all the nice offerings available for the fairer sex. My little tomboy though will only wear trousers, and very specific about the type of trousers she is. She will most definitely NOT wear leggings, oh no they do not cut it, and joggers are a push. I got fed up of buying things that I thought would satisfy the tomboy in her (and satisfy my need to retain some control) that I now do exactly what you did with your two. I let her have complete free rein. Now when we go in to a clothes shop, she heads straight to the boys section, as that is where she is happiest. Two weeks ago she chose some beige chinos and a navy blue spotty shirt (oh and a baseball cap – she loves a cap). Her little face was a picture and was enough to melt my heart. She was so happy. I love the fact she knows her own mind and it’s one thing I hope she carries with her throughout her life. I most definitely was more of a sheep, following the crowd. I hope that letting her express herself in her own way through her fashion will allow her to be confident in her future decisions, not worried by what is in or out of fashion, just comfortable in her own skin. God there is so much to say on this subject. Something I feel particularly passionate about! Good post xxx
I LOVE how F knows her own mind! I think it’s definitely a good trait. I was very much a ‘follower’ as a child, I would be really chuffed if either of mine became trendsetters and marched to the beat of their own drum when it comes to interests/fashion/music etc. Thanks for your lovely comment x
Oh bless them! You’ve really shamed me Becks, as I still pick out clothes for our three! That said, they’ve never been that fussed with what they put on and our play room is full to the gills with plastic tat! 🙂 I’m hoping that leaves me somewhere in the middle ground! 😉 xx
Don’t feel shame at all Em, if mine didn’t care then I would get away with dressing them for as long as I could, haha! Freddie is slightly less bothered but madam is getting harder to please. I find myself sighing whistfully at the Boden catalogue for the summer and wonder if she’ll actually want to wear any of the stuff that I buy this year- might have to get her to look through it with me first this year! x
Firstly – thanks for the mention lovely! Secondly, I love this! I haven’t yet taken A on a shopping trip but she did request a Frozen onesie last week and I hunted everywhere for one. It’s one of the vilest things I have seen but she adores it and wants to wear it every single day. It just makes her so incredibly happy! Great post x
Brilliant post Becky. And a great bit of parenting. You’ve just shown your children that making their own decisions is good and important, that you’ll back them and love them no matter what, and that independence from mum can be exciting, completely safe and non-judgemental. You’re a Great Mum!
Yes! This is SO me too 😉 I loved the baby stage when I could dress the twins and they would just gurgle back at me. Now Lottie & I argue over clothes a lot. This week she wanted to wear only short sleeve dresses (it has been so cold). I have let it go too. So what?! There’s too much to stress over and in fact she’s enjoyed picking her clothes out and dressing herself. Harry on the other hand will let me dress him in anything so I’ll hold on that one for a little longer 😉 xx
Not over the top at all, I’m exactly the same with O with his clothes and it does make me feel a bit guilty. He heads straight over to the character clothing (he currently has his eye on a Paw Patrol onesie in Asda) and it makes me want to cry inside. Luckily, or not, my in-laws are all about the character clothing and buy him his Lightning Mcqueen t-shirt fix and he wears them on the days they look after him. It’s all about balance, eh?? xx
I’m terrible for this – luckily my little boy is still happy for me to dress him but I’m conscious that we’re creeping ever closer to when he’ll want to choose things for himself. I have to admit, I loved all the character clothing as a kid – and hey, you’ve gotta let them have some awful childhood fashion photos to look back on and cringe!
Haha I am such a control freak and I am having to learn to ‘let it go’ too. Luckily my girls will let me dress them, as long as I abide by Mads golden rules- no trousers, no skirts, no pink. But slowly I have let in the character crap too- we have so many Batman things now. Bleugh. Hope you have a lovely time in Disneyland. x
Thanks lovely, really looking forward to it! And thanks for your comment too, we don’t have Batman so much here, but Minions are a popular choice for both S and F, aaargh! x
Arlo likes to pick out his own clothes. At the moment he is a big fan of colour co-coordinating an entire outfit – so, turquoise trousers with turquoise top and turquoise hoodie. It’s…interesting. But, like you said, I feel it’s important for him to have that control and I would hate to interrupt that with my own opinions. Have fun in Disneyland! If there’s one place where it’s totally acceptable to wear tacky character clothing….