Why Dressing My Kids for School Is My Biggest Fear

kids going to school

There is a photo of me on my first day of kindergarten that still hangs in my parents' living room.

I'm wearing a uniform -- a navy blue tunic with a white blouse underneath. I came to love that my school had a uniform, but that day all I could think about was how scratchy it was.

My long hair is severely middle-parted and pulled into a ponytail. My navy blue socks are hiked up high to my knees. I'm holding my favorite stuffed animal and giving a halfhearted smile. I knew I looked ridiculous.

Of course, my parents thought I looked great. And I did in a 4-year-old slightly nervous about going to school for the first time kind of way.

But I think about that photo every time I dress my kids for their first day of school. Here's why:


I know their outfit will be immortalized not only in our house, but in their classroom for the rest of the year.

I didn't think about it when they started kindergarten -- luckily I'd talked them into respectable flowered sundresses and convinced them that barrettes would be a great idea -- but day one is when their teachers take the picture that will become their avatar from September until June.

That same shot, no matter how poofy their hair is, or how ill-fitting their clothes are, will be used to mark their cubbies, their journals, their folders, their classroom art projects ... basically any representation of them for two semesters, aka an eternity if you're a kid.

That's a lot of pressure! And the funny thing is, as we transition from summer into September, we're always at an awkward point with clothes. They've pretty much grown out of their summer gear but the back-to-school fall stuff is way too big since I buy it that way on purpose. 

Also, as they get older, I have less input on their styling. They want to pick their looks, which I am thrilled about most of the time. Let's face it, even the most Punky Brewster throwback is charming when you're 7. It's just that this day, I'm irrationally programmed to want things just so.

We have a few weeks until school starts, but in preparation I've already started asking them what they'd like to wear or planting suggestions and saying ... maybe we should save this dress or that shirt so we can set it aside. It's annoying them. And me.

The other day one of my girls told me she decided on an outfit. "I have a great idea," she said, "Do you still have your school uniform?"

Do you overthink what your kids should wear to their first day of school?

Image ©iStock.com/Christopher Futcher

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