Wardrobe Wars – Our toddler won’t get dressed

Having confirmed that my latest post, ‘The Battle of Bedtime‘ resulted in a draw. We’re now onto Wardrobe Wars!

Getting dressed in ‘nice’ clothes feels like a distant memory. As the lockdowns have rolled on, routines have changed and with that so has my wardrobe. Looking back I wish I hadn’t moaned about the jobs where I had to commute on a train, mid-summer, sweating my life away in a suit and tie. Ok right now I might not wish to be on a delayed train back from Birmingham, but I’d give my big toe to be going somewhere dressed up!

Instead, I’ve sort of evolved into joggers and a hoody kind of swamp creature who normally only manages a shower about midday (at a push). I know I’m not alone, in fact as times have gone on, even work colleagues will rock up to meetings on camera in hoodies, hats, and dressing gowns. And why not? It’s not like our dining room chairs are judging our fashion sense (at least I hope not), and I’m certainly not.

The only person in our house lucky enough to get dressed and go anywhere in the week is our daughter, to pre-school. The routine for which varies in difficulty, we get one of the following:

Easy mode

Ease: 10/10
Stress level: 1/10
How rare?: VERY
Ivy wakes up as chirpy as a Disney character, eats her breakfast, gets dressed, brushes her teeth, engages in chat, and skips out the door after a big hug & kiss from mum and dad.

Intermediate mode

Ease: 6/10
Stress level: 6/10
How rare?: Quite common
All of the above, with a dash of difficulty. We’re talking not brushing teeth, a bit of screaming, or being a bit of a bed troll only chatting in grunts. But I can’t be mad at that, who the hell likes talking in the morning?!

Expert mode

Ease: 1/10
Stress level: 10/10
How rare?: More common than I’d ever like it to be right now.
I’m surprised we have any hair after a morning like this. Refusal to do any of the above, there are tears, usually goes in the car without an item of clothing on and will only put it on knowing she might look a bit silly walking into pre-school with no trousers on.



The biggest hurdle we have at the moment, not only on pre-school days is getting Ivy dressed. It’s like as soon as her clothes for the day are laid out in front of her, she channels her inner-celebrity and demands 5 or 6 options, all of which she scoffs at. Tights are too tight, socks aren’t right, tights are too prickly, leggings aren’t flat, pants are the wrong ones, and before you know it we’ve got ourselves our very own hurricane Ivy, and any plans to go out have been pushed back an hour, if not more.

Why us?

When you’re finding your feet as a parent, it’s so easy to think that all the other parents around you have their shit together. After all, the only insight you might get is from social media where everything looks ‘just right’, or in the conversations you have. Only the closest of friends will open up about the nightmare they’re having at home. In reality, we all know that everyone has gone through this stage at some point or another. This dressing, or not dressing should I say, is one of those things where I personally felt we were the only ones going through it. But that’s not the case.

Considering their size, you’ve got to admire how tenacious and persistent a toddler can be if they have their mind set on something. How hard can getting a toddler dressed be? VERY f*cking difficult if they don’t want to. In our many efforts to get out the door on time every morning, we’ve tried plenty of options. Not one is a silver bullet, but some days they work, some days they don’t. That’s the nature of toddlers. Here’s some of what we’ve experienced.

Provide options

I really thought this would be the answer. I mean, who could say no to FIVE options put in front of them? A toddler. There’s got to be something they’ll like, right? 5 options later we’re still sat on the floor in pants and tears (sometimes nearly both of us) and no closer to leaving the house. However, sometimes this does work and although the combination of leggings and top she chooses is like she ran through a charity shop blindfolded and backwards, at least she’s wearing something!


Whether it’s a toy, some food, or whatever is in arms reach. The fight to get socks on can sometimes be overcome with minor distraction.

Take time

I’ve never been a morning person in the sense that I don’t like talking to someone for the first few hours of the day. But I have no issues with getting up early. Nine times out of ten Ivy wakes us up so we can’t always apply this approach, but not rushing to get out the door always helps, leaving time to get brains engaged instead of feeling like a military drill and shoehorned into the car.

Get Fed

Ivy is just like me, without food she is useless; grumpy, short-tempered and doesn’t apply logic to the situation. I personally think breakfast is essential, and if I was to prioritize anything in the morning routine it would be food. A full stomach usually means everything else falls into place.

This is a stage and it will pass. Something I try (and fail) to remind myself with every difficult morning we have. But if there’s anyone out there with some good suggestions, we’re all ears!

Got some free time? Course you do, we’re in a national lockdown. Have a read of some of the other ramblings I’ve posted on here:

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