It is that time of the year again – sweaters, ski pants, hats, mitts, coats and boots. All that clothing for every one of the toddlers in my group. Getting ready to go outside to play now takes a large chunk of time out of our morning. For some, the arduous process of getting dressed can briefly interrupt their excitement for outdoor play.
I usually lay out all the children’s clothing and then begin with the youngest child and start dressing. When the youngest is dressed I move on the the second youngest who may, or may not have already started getting dressed. The oldest child always gets the most time to get dressed independently – our ultimate goal.
This year, the two youngest children in the group both really, really dislike all the bulky, ‘tight’ outerwear and resist every step of the process. The youngest child is sometimes so worn out from the struggle to get dressed that he will fall asleep while waiting for me to dress the second child.
So, I made a slight change in the routine. Instead of dressing the first child completely before moving on the child two, I began alternating between these two for each step of the dressing process. Ski pants on child one then ski pants on child two. Coat & mitts on child one then coat & mitts on child two. Hat and boots on child one then hat & boots on child two.
Several shorter battle rounds with a break between each step allows the toddlers a brief period of time to adapt to the feel of one piece of heavy outerwear before another is added. Throughout the process of dressing the youngest two, toddler three usually sits and waits patiently singing songs but making no effort to get dressed.
The oldest in the current group is fully capable of completing the task without assistance except for the jacket zipper. She usually dresses, undresses, and dresses again several times while the others struggle through. Occasionally, just to add a little excitement to an otherwise boring task, she’ll do something to annoy one of the toddlers. Sigh.
Last week I saw a small glimmer of progress. Toddler two put on his ski pants without any assistance. Instead of just sitting and waiting, toddler three put her ski pants on too! The resistance to getting dressed is lessening. The oldest now sometimes feigns helplessness because she feels I have too little work to do.
Now things will change again. We’re welcoming a new toddler into the group so we’ll have to adjust the routine a little more. All the struggles are worth it though – we LOVE our outdoor play in all types of weather. 🙂