Courtesy of Steph Montgomery
10 Reasons School Dress-Up Days Are The Absolute Worst

by Steph Montgomery

I've learned there are certain parts of parenting that sound fun, but totally aren't. For example, taking your kids to the park — an hour of getting ready for 15 minutes of playtime before an injury, fight, or tantrum (in front of "perfect moms") ruins everything. Also, preschool soccer games — an hour of preschoolers crying, running aimlessly, and sitting on the field, but surprisingly, very little soccer. But the top award for things that don't meet your parenting expectations goes to school dress-up days. There are so many reasons school dress-up days suck. So many, you guys. Getting your kids ready for school is hard enough, so do us parents really need to worry about dressing our kids a certain way in the name of school-related festivities? Really? We're going to make this a thing?

Here's why they suck for parents, who usually find out about them at the breakfast table the morning of, or actually read about them in the newsletter but then promptly forget: you don't have enough space in your brain for such things. And when you find out the morning of, you feel like you have to scramble and find the items of clothing your kids want/need to wear, only to remember you haven't done laundry in over a week or your kid doesn't actually own any sportsball jerseys or yellow clothes. (Seriously? A bright, neon yellow shirt is mandatory? WTF?).

They also suck for kids, if I'm being perfectly honest, and especially for the kids who don't fit in, but want to. No matter how many times you tell your kid it's OK for them to do their own thing — by either dressing up or not dressing up — it seems like some jerk child will tell them otherwise. Kids can be mean, you guys. They also really suck for kids with sensory issues. "Sorry, sweetheart, you don't have any pajamas that fit and also have short sleeves and shorts. No, I can't go get some. School starts in 15 minutes." They are also no fun for kids with anxiety. "Sorry, honey, you don't have black shoes. Can you wear your rainbow shoes that have literally every other color on them instead?" FML.

I honestly wish teachers and schools would skip dress-up days entirely. No matter what you call them or how psyched the kids are for them, when it comes to expectation versus reality, they just aren't fun.

Because You Find Out About Them At The Breakfast Table

It really sucks to feel like you are ahead (for once), and everything is going smoothly, only to discover 15 minutes before the bus arrives that it's a dress-up day at school. Then, you have to be a "mean mom" (God, I hate being a "mean mom"), who says, "Sorry, you should have let me know yesterday." I have our morning routine down to a science. I don't have time to go hunting for a yellow shirt or special hat for dress-up day.

Because You Totally Forgot About It

With four kids in school, and a baby to care for at home, my partner and I have had to create systems for remembering things, like calendars, reminders, and routines. Most of the time we manage (barely), but still, my "mommy brain" only seems to have room for a limited number of things, which doesn't seem to include school dress-up days. Priorities.

Because Your Child Always Wants Something Specific

Courtesy of Steph Montgomery

We don't have room in our budget to buy new clothes every time our kids' school or teachers decide they are going to wear pink on Wednesdays or that they need to support the local team or celebrate a random holiday. Sorry, not sorry.

Because You Haven't Done Laundry In A Week

My partner and I have five kids, who each own plenty of school clothes. So, when their teachers suddenly announce dress-up days, it can mean extra laundry for me or that I have to change my weekly routine, which makes my #momlife that much harder. I have so little time as it is, so changing or adding to my routine to accommodate random school dress-up days sucks.

Because Some Kids Are Not Neurotypical

I have kids with anxiety, and they desperately want to fit in. I also have kids with sensory issues, and they can't stand certain fabrics or styles of clothes and, as a result, will literally chew or mess with their clothes all day unless they are soft and simple. Having to wear something special, or wearing a costume to school, seriously interferes with their ability to pay attention and learn, which is what school is for, right?

Because The "Color Of The Day" Is Bizarre

Last week each of our four school-aged kids had a different class color on spirit day. It's bad enough to have to find one thing in a random color that actually fits and happens to be clean, but four random colors the day-of? Yeah, that's more than I can manage, my friends.

Because Not Everyone Cares About Sports

Courtesy of Steph Montgomery

I hate sports. Pretty much the only reason I follow sports is to know when I should avoid going downtown and what times I should shop at Target because everyone else will be watching the game. So, yeah, we don't have a ton of sports-related clothes at our house. I guess that means our kids miss out.

Because Kids Are Particular About Their Clothes

Our kids are very particular about what they wear, and my partner and I let them dress themselves, as long as they are weather-appropriate. Two of our kids would wear shorts year-round if we let them, one is super creative, one seems to outgrow their clothes moments after trying them on, and one wears long-sleeves, even when it's hot. Finding clothes that meet their particular needs and wants that also correspond with dress-up days is pretty much impossible.

Because There's Always One Child That Doesn't Want To Participate

I love it when my kids don't want to do school dress-up days, until, that is, they come home in tears because other kids were jerks about them not participating. Kids can be so mean.

Because Kids Have Anxiety About Fitting In

Dress-up days almost always involve anxiety and tears. Either your kid doesn't dress up and feels left out, or doesn't wear the right thing and feels like they don't fit in. It's just another way society teaches kids that conformity is a value (when it's totally not), and to give mean kids an opportunity to be bullies. I say hard pass, my friends, and I will unapologetically support you if you and your family do, too.

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