Looking to re-enter the workforce? Aside from dusting off your résumé and job skills and securing competent, reliable child care, going back to work can be a daunting prospect. You’ll miss their little faces and not being there when they come bounding through the door at the end of their school day. But a quick reality check tells you that your income is essential to maintaining a decent standard of living under your roof.

Obstacles abound for moms seeking to rejoin Club Nine-to-Five, and they start before you make it through the front door. Knowledge, however, is power. Gaining some insight into the workforce “norms” that can scupper your goals of fast employment and attractive income earning will keep your head firmly out of the clouds. To that end, we'd like to arm you with some hard truths and effective strategies to get you where you want to be.

Flat Out Bias

Forget the glass ceiling—watch out for those glass doors. Mothers face more discrimination in the job market than childless applicants. Men can have sired enough children to field a football team only to have praised and awe heaped upon them, but parenthood is a drawback to employers if you happen to be female. Stay at home dads have yet to balance out this inequity.

Patrick Ishizuka, assistant professor of sociology in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri conducted a field experiment to study the anti-motherhood bias in the labour market.

The experiment: 2,210 fictitious applications were sent to low-wage and professional/managerial job listings in six U.S. cities. Two similarly qualified applicant résumés were sent in for each position with the only difference being one application included “signals” of motherhood, such as Parent Teacher Association volunteer work, while the other application—also for a female candidate—listed volunteer work in an organization that was unrelated to parenthood.”

The results: in the low-wage service jobs sector, childless women received a callback rate of 26.7% while mothers garnered only 21.5%. Similarly, in professional and managerial positions, 22.6% of the childless female applicants received callbacks compared to 18.4% for mothers.

The Motherhood Penalty

Also referred to as the Family Gap or Motherhood Earnings Gap, the Motherhood Penalty occurs when becoming a mother causes a negative effect on a woman’s income.

It is tough for everyone to work while parenting, but it’s especially tough for moms because of societal norms and expectations. As Vartika Kashyap says:
“… a mother is 78 percent less likely to get hired and women in the workplace who have children earn 15 percent less than women who don’t when compared to an equally qualified non-mother.”
Employers maintain that mothers aren’t available at all hours, but after hours work is becoming increasingly frowned upon by labour unions, and companies are finally adapting to this new “overwork” intolerance.

Forward-thinking companies are starting to address the problem of work-life balance. Yet still the uniquely female conundrum—i.e., working mothers being expected to work like they don’t have children and raise children as if they don’t work—has working moms everywhere spinning in circles.

Burn Out

According to classic sociological literature, a “second shift” occurs when women finish their full-time paid day of work only to arrive home and begin work on unpaid family and domestic duties.

A recent study from the University of Pennsylvania found mothers who are employed outside of the home still take on a greater share of household tasks. A McKinsey study revealed that mothers are more than three times as likely to perform the majority of housework and caregiving during the pandemic. And a Visier study found 70% of full time working women do all or most of the caregiving in their home.

In a two-parent household during the pandemic’s lockdowns, one of the breadwinners had to manage the kids, and it was overwhelmingly Mom who did. This second shift for moms takes a measurable toll on their health, both physically and emotionally.

For those of you in a couple relationship, financial guru Warren Buffett advises that “the most important decision in your life is who your life partner is going to be.” The right partner is going to be someone “who is supportive of your decision to continue working […], will be hands on with the kids, wash the dishes, fold the laundry, change diapers, and who will be a team player and not just ‘help out’ or ‘baby sit.’”

If you have a partner, don’t expect that partner to read your mind—speak up about what you need in terms of support and what you think is a reasonable distribution of labour in your household. Tracy Brower reminds us that:

“Moms can also respond by reevaluating the expectations they place on themselves. Children aren’t looking for perfect mothers, only mothers who love them deeply.”


How to Fight Back

Give a killer interview. Make them see the value of your ability to multitask and delegate, two stereotypically maternal qualities. Call the interviewer back to follow up. Finally, research the company before going in to apply for a position there.

Not only will you impress them during your interview with your knowledge of their company, but this gives you a chance to see if and how they support mothers in the workplace. Maybe skip the secretive ones and move on to an opportunity that is more upfront about its parental benefits and childcare policies.

On the homefront, take advantage of government benefits and incentives, plus free community offerings: childcare subsidies, education savings programs, dental care programs, municipal extracurricular activities, community family events, parenting tools, etc. You need every penny you can get your hands on to keep your brood rolling forward on a smooth and enriching track.

You can also try home-based employment or side hustles to eliminate childcare costs. Just remember to get your online game up to speed, particularly if you decide to become an online retailer.

Do not rely on sales to friends and family to support your new venture. Ask them to spread the word, but start any new venture by generating sales from new markets on your own. This will give you a more realistic sense of how your business might fare over the long term.

Nowadays, there are many online entrepreneurial opportunities for and by women that allow you to set your own hours and, therefore, income level. Plus, they provide mentoring and tech support. Yay for the sisterhood!

Go forth into the fray with your chin up and these tips in your back pocket.

Maybe wipe that jelly off your neck first, though.

By Jane Thornton

Feature image: Ketut Subiyanto; Image 1: Sarah Chai

mother and daughter practicing yoga together - the work life balancing act

As a parent, perhaps our greatest worry is “am I spending enough time actually raising my child?” It’s tough. We want to provide for our offspring while rearing them in a rewarding relationship. The concerns and duties of everyday adult life, however—employment, housing, domestic chores, etc.—all conspire to pull our attention away from our wee one(s). 

Relax. This is normal. Instagram, Disney movies and glossy magazine spreads give us a false idea that a parent's life revolves entirely and tirelessly around being there for the kids. In reality, even the most organized and financially secure people struggle with child-rearing. So for the 98% of us living ordinary, disorganized, insecure lives, the challenge is to find a work-life balance.

Raising Emotionally Secure Kids

The challenge is especially tough because the stakes are high for our children. Children naturally reach out to their parents when they need or want something until they are taught to do otherwise through admonishment or neglect. What children need most of all is our attention and our approval/acceptance.

When we spend time focused on our child, they feel worthwhile and worthy of love and respect. These concepts are something that can't be explained to a child—they have to be modelled.

Amy Morin states the obvious: the rewards of undivided attention between parent and child are mutual. The Peaceful Parent Institute tells us that a deepened empathy for a child brings a deeper, truer understanding of who they are as an individual; as a little person finding their way through this big scary world. 

When we can really be attentive to our children, we get to share their experiences and learn what they need from us. As we learn what they need, we can guide them and teach them life skills, and this guidance becomes a platform of accrued knowledge beneath them. That platform gives our kids a bigger, more stable base from which to launch their next stage of development.

Given the importance of this one-on-one attention, then, how do we create these ideal conditions when we’re being pulled away by work and other responsibilities?

Daily Routines

Here is the happy newsparents can accomplish this focus time as they go throughout their daily at-home routines. Erin Ollila suggests that you can readily prioritize family time simply by incorporating your child’s assistance with age-appropriate household chores.

Toddlers can pick up toys while you chat with them about their favourite ones. Elementary school-age children can set the table and clear away dishes while unpacking their day. Teenagers can make dinner while expanding on their latest dream career. 

Don’t just listen as you work—ask questions. By using this “tasks while talking” approach, the child learns that they are a part of the household unit with something to contribute. They feel recognized, valued and snugly woven into the family fabric. 


mother reading to two kids in bed - the work life balancing act

Reading to your children
and having them read to you is a vital quality time activity that reaps huge rewards. Books contain ideas that can be the springboard for endless conversations between the two of you, while reading aloud may help in the detection of a learning difficulty.

Reading Eggs lists the benefits to reading aloud with your children. Aside from enjoyment (most kids relish the physical and emotional bonding that reading time provides), increased attention span and building cognitive skills, Reading Eggs suggests that there are three big advantages your child will gain through reading: 

  1. A stronger vocabulary through listening to new words being used in context. You have heard that small children are little sponges, soaking up everything they hear. Their environment and experiences are reflected in their communication skills. 

  1. Stronger connections between the spoken and written word. Reading aloud brings clarity to what letters in various arrangements sound like and mean, and illustrates the difference between the structure of text and speech.

  2. A safe method for exploring particularly strong emotions such as jealousy or grief. A tale with characters who experience deep and overwhelming emotions in scenarios that allow for them to play out helps children to understand and accept their own feelings and those of others, and this facilitates discussion of their emotions with others.

Making reading part of your child's bedtime routine is a small investment of time with huge rewards for you and your little one.

Getting Outdoors

Staying active with a regular evening activity like a walk is good for the whole family and removes the glowing screen element from your together time. The passing scenery can be fodder for comments, or your conversation can flow from whatever is on the child’s mind. 

The important part is that the child recognizes that this is their time with you, so Morin advises absolutely no phone calls or texts during this time. Demonstrate clearly that you place your child at the top of your list. Obviously, you don’t want a little time tyrant on your hands, but through daily active interaction with your brood, you prevent those devastating feelings of unworthiness that can set a child back in so many ways for so many years. 

Tagging in Help

Although there is no substitute for a parent’s love and attention, sometimes we all need to enlist the aid of trusted caregivers. Perhaps because of illness or because you get swamped at your workplace, having a shortlist of competent and loving support people upon whom you can call is a critical resource to develop. 

Have your candidates over for coffee/tea and see how they interact with your kids. Ideally, you want someone who won’t impose new standards of behaviour in stark contrast with your household’s established expectations and standards. Children trust you to protect them from rude surprises. 

You've Got This

Learning who your child is the single most fascinating thing you will ever be allowed to witness. No two children are the same. Even twins differ in significant ways. One child might thrive in the great outdoors while her older sibling would rather chat with you on the couch about a book they just finished. Each child shines under a different spotlight. Be that spotlight.
You are what your child wants and needs most. Your very presence gives security on a multitude of levels. Secure children are happy children and, eventually, well-adjusted adults. It is an honour when your children come to you with their fears and woes. By demonstrating that you can be present in the moment with them, even when those moments are short, they will, in turn, reward you with their heaviest burdens and their greatest joys.

Written by Jane Thornton

Feature image: Kamaji Ogino; Image 1: Alex Green

two pairs of legs dangling over graffiti covered wall - connecting with your teen

How was puberty for you? A period of grace, growing self-confidence and widely-acknowledged popularity? If yes, you a rare individual indeed. For the vast majority of us, the answer is a resounding no. 

Now that child development studies have revealed some of the causes of adolescent struggles, parents have a better understanding of their teenaged children’s experiences and are thus better equipped to offer guidance around common pitfalls. 

It sounds simple enough: anticipate or deduce a potential problem, apply appropriate words of wisdom, and then skip off happily with your adolescent into the sunset, hand in hand, having saved them from needless suffering. Watch as their respect and admiration for you beams from their adoring face.

The bubble-bursting truth, of course, is that as a group, teens often reject with great vigour what they see as unsolicited parental interference. Rachel Ehmke observes that the teenage years can be very like a second toddlerhood in that our teens “are doing exciting new things, but they’re also pushing boundaries (and buttons) and throwing tantrums. The major developmental task facing both age groups is also the same: kids must pull away from parents and begin to assert their own independence. No wonder they sometimes act as if they think they’re the center of the universe.” 

And so, the question remains: how can parents mitigate the often ugly side effects of these hormonally saturated years? These suggestions might help.

Sleep is Crucial

Encourage good sleep habits. This is a big one and often difficult to enforce. The hormonal changes taking place in the adolescent brain affect sleep patterns. Children need plenty of shut eye to ensure good overall health and development, especially when it comes to brain development. The following tips from raisingchildren.net can help you establish positive sleep habits in your teen:

  • provide a comfortable, quiet sleep environment

  • establish a winding down routine away from screens, including phones

  • encourage regular bedtime and waking time each day

  • set a goal of 8-10 hours of sleep each night

Sign every petition (or even start your own) in support of later start times for secondary schools. The current model caters to working class parents’ schedules, but is punitive to the natural sleep cycle of adolescents.

Be Patient with Brain Development

mother and teen playing in vineyard - connecting with your teen

In her creative piece “Dear Mom and Dad, Please Stick with Me,” Helene Wingens shares a plea for patience from the teenage perspective. This fictional teen recognizes and shares facts about her developmental stage and all its sundry stumbling blocks. In particular, Wingens emphasizes brain development, i.e., that teenagers have an under-developed prefrontal cortex, which is the part of the brain responsible for rational thought. 

This means that your teen isn’t stupid or learning challenged when they do something on impulse that leads to unhappy consequences. A more fully developed brain might easily have avoided making a bad judgement, but your teenager's brain might not be there yet. Here’s Wingens’ take home message: do not conflate intelligence with judgement. Save that critique for when your child is over 25 years old and their brain has achieved full maturity.

Wingens suggests that parents consider the following behaviours to best guide teens through the ocean of uncertainty they find themselves in: 

  1. Model adulting. What a child sees you do has far more impact than what you say to them. Modelling is the best way to give advice.  

  2. Allow them to figure things out for themselves. Consequences of their own actions and decisions are potent learning tools which build confidence and resilience.

  3. Tell your child about you and all the crazy things you did as a teenager. 

  4. Help them put things and events in perspective. Teach them how to rise above their current situation to see the bigger picture so they know that this terrible moment will pass. 

  5. Keep them safe and feeling secure. They need to hear that drugs and driving don’t mix and that one should never leave one’s drink unattended anywhere. Reassure them that they can turn to you for help without anger or lectures no matter how (dis)tasteful the situation. Repeat this ad nauseam in non-dramatic tones.  

  6. Be kind. Don’t ever mock or be cruel. Remember how you were at this age and adjust your expectations accordingly. 

  7. Validate their interests by actively showing your interest in the things they enjoy.

Help your teen choose a range of activities that interests them. This variety will help with crucial overall brain development. Hobbies such as music, sports, visual arts, languages, video games and nature exploration will stimulate growth in related areas of the brain. It is very important that you display interest in their interests. That said, by all means talk about their latest game or dance routine or wildlife discovery, but not to excess. Otherwise, you might drive them away from both you and the interest. Remember that it’s theirs, not yours.

Listen and Wait

Teenagers are people, believe it or not—complex people, who may not know how to recognize or verbalize their needs. Ask minimal questions and observe a lot. 

Jeni Marinucci, editor of the Yummy Mummy Club, shares her struggles and successes when trying to connect with her teen daughter. Most of her successes involved ceasing to bombard her child with endless questions in an attempt to crack into her world. She says:

So, the next day when I saw my daughter in the morning, I did not ask her if she wanted breakfast. […] But rather than starve that morning, an amazing thing happened; she looked at the empty space on the counter where a quick but sensible breakfast would normally be, and then made herself a waffle.

More validation of the choice to be less inquisitive followed when this same normally closed off child came home from school that same day. Marinucci greeted her, but suppressed the urge to ask how her day went. Her daughter then said “You won’t believe what happened today...”

Communicate When Things Change

Parenting teens is hard. Forgive yourself if you’ve been inconsistent with household policy and rules. In the face of an unending barrage of petulant snipes and energetic claims that you're being unfair, acquiescing to the occasional challenge of your authority for the sake of peace is perfectly acceptable.

If you give in to something, let your teen know whether this is the new normal or a one-time relaxation of the rules. When you grant them a new freedom, let them know their behaviour is under scrutiny and will determine future developments in their autonomy. Dangle that carrot and follow through accordingly. 

Money can’t buy a patient, loving parent or a well-adjusted adult. 

Written by Jane Thornton

Feature image: Aedrian; Image 1: Zen Chung

girl in red dress with tablet - free life skills lessons for every child

As parents, it is our number one job to raise happy, self-sufficient people and successfully launch them out into the world. We strive to raise people who are capable of looking after themselves and others, which is no small feat. Thankfully, we already have the foundation we need to create such amazing human beings. It requires only manageable portions of your time and some investment from the bank of knowledge. 

We sometimes get hung up on trying to give our children music lessons, art lessons or other lessons that we think will make them knowledgeable and well-rounded. The most important lessons, however, don’t cost a thing, because the most important lessons are life skills.

The essential lessons below have a reach far beyond that of learning guitar basics or mastering ballet choreography. Plus, each “class” happens at a time perfectly suited to your family, making them much easier to schedule into everybody's busy daily lives

Critical Thinking

The most important life skill is critical thinking and reasoning. Pair this with strong research skills and you’ve got a kid who won’t fall prey to campaigns of any sort: political, professional or personal. 

Advise your kids to ask questions. Toddlers have mastered the art of asking “why?,” so encourage them to just keep asking as they grow older. You might require massive amounts of patience, but for them, asking why is an essential critical thinking skill. Once your child learns to figure out why things are done the way they are, they can understand the world more easily.

Life is like a giant research paper, and you can teach your kids to check their sources before trusting them. They'll learn who benefits when they follow a request, which lets them develop savvier ideas about when it's better to go along with what's being asked of them and when it's better to resist. Bright Horizons offers guidance on how parents can begin to instill critical thinking skills into their children.

Financial Literacy

Until schools understand the importance of financial literacy and put it in the curriculum, teaching kids about finances is up to you. Budgeting, banking and debit card use are good starters. 

Take your child into the bank and walk them through opening an account and using a debit card. Encourage them to ask questions should anything be unclear to them. They trust you, but the teller may not be so approachable in their eyes. ATMs might appear downright hostile to a child.  

The sooner they start managing their allowance and/or birthday money, the better they will understand how to stick within the household budget and their personal budget. You might have the experience of hearing your child make very public complaints to complete strangers (like store clerks) about not having enough money, but the trick here is to not care. Simply explain to these strangers that “they’re learning how to budget” if you feel the need to say anything. 


Housekeeping is another crucial skill that many adults young and old struggle to adequately grasp. Teaching household tasks offers a great opportunity for connection during lesson time. Plus, from changing a lightbulb to painting a door properly to routine cleaning, when each of these tasks is learned, some of the household responsibilities shift from your plate to the shared family plate.

Start lessons and chore assignments when children can comprehend what you want them to do and why. Explain why doing the chore is a good thing (e.g. putting toys away removes trip hazards for everyone and prevents favourite playtime buddies from being lost). Lisa Marie Fletcher of The Canadian Homeschooler lays out the benefits of having children contribute to the upkeep of the family living space.

Chores like laundry can be complex undertakings fraught with peril for even the most experienced launderer among us, so take your time, be clear and strongly encourage that they err on the side of caution, i.e. wait for your guidance when in doubt.

Applying for Jobs

young woman with coffee cup and pink binder - free life skills lessons for every child

How to apply for a job is something everyone will need to know at some point in their life, unless your teenager wins the lottery and has mad financial planning skills. 

Resume and cover letter writing websites abound, offering free tips and templates. Use this as a chance not just to teach kids the basics about cover letters and the like, but to ask what may be most concerning your teen about applying for and holding down a job. Discuss your own trials and tribulations while employment seeking—related anecdotes almost always contain elements of humour and wisdom. 

Food Prep

Nutritious food preparation and understanding the food cycle is something absolutely everyone on Earth should know. 

Food guide daily servings recommendations have changed dramatically over the past decade, and kids should be kept in the loop about how ideas about nutrition have evolved.

Meat and dairy, for example, are no longer the reigning monarchs. Plant-based proteins and whole grains are preferred, along with regular water consumption. Kids don't want to hear this, but they should know that processed and sugary foods are the villains and deservedly so—poor diet contributes to a plethora of avoidable health issues such as tooth decay and heart disease.

Teach your children to buy the best food they can afford. Explain why a bag of protein-rich quinoa will stretch further than cheap ramen noodles that have you paying for empty calories. Also show them how to avoid food spoilage and waste so they don't have to clean out any crisper drawer horrors. 

Walk children through a farmers’ market and have them speak with the vendors. Locally grown food is better for the community in terms of sustainability and promotes a fiscally sound economy for its members. Kids can and do grasp these concepts.

Have them grow their own food. Time puttering in the vegetable garden or windowsill herb patch is time very well spent. Show them the critters living in the soil (microscopic or otherwise), all of whom play valuable roles in the production of the food they eat.

Learn New Skills as You Teach

Don't feel restricted to teaching basic things you already know. Take this as an opportunity to learn new skills together with your child.

Rob Kenney of the video series “Dad, How Do I?” teaches people everything from the proper way to tie a necktie or change a flat tire to how to iron a dress shirt or unclog a stopped up sink. Kenney began the YouTube channel when he realized that many adults were not taught these important life skills growing up and now find themselves foundering in adulthood. 

Kenney understands on a personal level the full loss that children experience when a father leaves a family: his did when Rob was 14 years old, opting to walk out on a family of eight children. His own adult children encouraged him to make the series and now his channel has over 3.31 million subscribers. Kenney gets his how-to tips from a wide variety of trusted sources. He then makes step-by-step videos and compiles them for easy referencing by others in need of some expert guidance.

When to Call in the Experts

Learning how to drive a car, how to administer first aid and how to swim could easily be included in the life skills library, but these lessons might be best left to qualified professional instructors. Some lessons are simply not a great time for chatty bonding. 

If you’re not confident about your knowledge base in any subject area that arises, find an expert, and do so nonchalantly in front of your child. It's important for children to see that there's no shame in not having all the answers or in seeking help. Calling in an expert gives you an opportunity to model how to go about learning something new and how to find someone to teach you.

Your child’s essential classroom is at your fingertips—no special equipment required.

Written by Jane Thornton

Feature image: Helena Lopes; Image 1: RODNAE Productions

two girls holding hands going up mountain path - clothing your kids

There are some old-fashioned rules about clothing your kids that have been handed down from generation to generation. They are good rules…for the most part. Back in the “good old days,” families were bigger and parents had to use every tool in the toolbox to keep children clothed without breaking the wardrobe budget. For 98% of us, those budget limitations haven't changed.

Fortunately, consumer practices are undergoing a big turnaround these days, shifting from fast and disposable fashion to a more eco-friendly outlook. In this new era of sustainability, consumers are working to reduce, reuse and recycle everything, clothing included.

This interest in reusing and recycling is wonderful news for the planet and for your pocketbook. Cheaper clothes, however, aren't always better. If you're wondering how to make the best clothing choices with the budget you have, these suggestions will help put you on the right track.

New Isn't Necessary 

The saying “hand-me-down is just fine” is 80% true. Indeed, secondhand is best in terms of affordability and sustainability. Passing garments along keeps them out of the landfill and keeps parents from having to buy things their children will quickly outgrow. 

Rachel Brown shares the dismaying fact that Americans alone throw out twice as much clothing annually as they did 20 years ago, upping their textile waste from 7 million to 14 million tons. Depending on content fibre, it can take over 200 years for textiles to decompose in a dump. 

Making clothes out of repurposed fabrics can be a big budget saver, too, if you have the time and the skill. Clothing that's been made by a skilled and fashion-savvy sewing enthusiast allows for a greater choice of colours and textiles than you might find in stores. Before commencing on a garment, ask for your child’s input and set a budget so you know you and your child will be happy with the result. 

The Right Step

Where the “hand-me-downs are fine” statement stops being true is with footwear and undergarments. Underwear should be new and made of cotton to keep tender skin ventilated and chafe-free. You should always invest in new shoes whenever possible, as well.

Here’s why: each person has a distinctive contour to the sole and anatomy of their foot. The shoe takes on the impression of this contour, rendering it a customized fit to that wearer. A new wearer’s foot will not be able to overcome the original impression, which could lead to greater complications than just an uncomfortable fit. 

Sole Science also warns about the risk of contracting fungal or bacterial infections, which can easily be contracted through breaks in the skin or under the toenails. Athlete’s foot, warts and other infections could result from second-hand shoes if they're not properly cleaned and disinfected.

Check shoe sizing regularly—kids grow so fast that it may be just a matter of months before they outgrow their new footwear. This is one area where it can be hard to keep up with the cost. One option, if it's possible for you, is to allow extended family members (grandparents, aunts, uncles) to pay for a new pair of runners, snow boots or hikers. If family members are looking for a meaningful gift, footwear is a good choice

Day Trading in Textiles

grey and white children's wool socks - clothing your kids

One creative way to keep clothing costs down is to organize a clothing swap amongst your mommy friends. Plan an event that runs just 2 hours to keep things fast and simple and doable in a busy parent’s schedule. 

Invite a maximum of 10 swappers and set a minimum (5) and maximum (10) for articles of clothes each guest must bring. Tell swappers that all clothing must be freshly laundered and in good repair. 

Katie Kavulla suggests this approach to claiming new-to-you treasures: for each piece of clothing contributed, a swapper gets a sticker with her/his/their name on it to apply to a garment that they would like to take home. Any crossover claims can be settled with a quick round of “rock, scissors, paper” or by letting the concerned swappers bargain with their other claimed clothing pieces. 

Clear your display space of as much clutter and furniture as possible. Organize the garments into sections: shirts and tops, pants and shorts, dresses and skirts, outwear and seasonal and, finally, miscellaneous items. Encourage your swappers to let you donate unclaimed items to a local shelter.

Buy QualityIt Will Last Longer

This is 100% true. You really can feel and see the difference quality makes, so take your time and examine each piece of clothing you buy for fabric content and manufacturer’s craftsmanship. Shoddy seams now will only lead to repairs later. 

Look for fibres such as bamboo and hemp for both comfort and longevity. Quality costs, of course, so to make it work for your budget, consider secondhand purchases and/or a smaller wardrobe. 

Fast fashion is like fast food. It is easy on the pocketbook and maybe even the eye, but it will cost you in the long run. With inexpensive clothes, you can expect garment degrading to begin as soon as the first wash. 

Do Not Give in to Trends

While it is always fun to see what’s new in fashion, keeping up with trends is costly in more ways than one.

Trends tend to ignore the comfort and health of the wearer in favour of sensationalism. Tight clothing can pinch and bind, causing your child to be distracted and even hurt. Overly thick soles, for example, can be a trip hazard. Pointy-toed shoes and boots will cause skeletal deformities, blisters and calluses. 

Fashion trends can also fly in the face of the parental desire to keep children as children. Low cuts and clingy fabrics deny our little charges of their time of innocence and instead sexualize them in wrappings that suggest maturity well beyond their years. Dr. Gwen Dewar reports that this campaign of age-inappropriate allure is launched at girls much earlier than boys, whom the industry leaves alone until the onset of puberty.

Classics are the way to go when clothing shopping for your kids. Think slim jeans, not skinny cuts; faded denim, not acid wash; bright colours, not neons, and so on. What you are looking for is current styling that can be passed down to your next child without the pieces being obviously dated. Keep in mind that children’s clothing consignment shops also look for garments that age well. 

Pick Your Battles

It’s always okay to say no to a child who is asking for a piece of clothing that exceeds the bounds of your budget. It is not okay to exert absolute control over their wardrobe choices, though. Just like adults, children need outlets for self-expression. Letting them pull together their own look for the day is a great place to start. 

Start early. Ask your toddler what they’d like to wear each morning. As long as their choice leaves them adequately covered for the weather, let them have their way. Curb your urge to cringe—clashing colours and patterns are fun. This will be good practice for you as they get older and present more and more ideas that are outside your zone of comfort and familiarity.

One fun-loving mom allowed her pre-schooler son to dress her every day for one week with adorably funny results.  Another “hired” her 8-year-old daughter as her personal stylist for what turned out to be seven days of unapologetically bold glamour.

This surrendering of parental style say-so now will translate into smoother transitions of power as your child matures because mutual trust and respect have been established. All journeys begin with a single step and this one can set the tone for the trip of a lifetime. Do expect a few off-the-schedule meanderings though.

Written by Jane Thornton
Feature image: Josue Michel; Image 1: Lum3n