There was a time dressing kids alike horrified me.
A little over six years ago, I was childless. And my opinions ran strong. One such opinion was dressing my kids the same way. "What about their INDIVIDUALITY?!" I would shout from the rooftops. Then my second kiddo came along and my third in rapid succession. Parenthood really humbles you in a hurry.
Now? I dress my kids identically from their hats to their shoes whenever we go into a crowded place. On our most recent trip to Disney, there wasn't a day we made it from our hotel room to the lobby without at least three comments about how "cute" my daughters were. They were and are but, damn, it made me cringe. Why? Because I don't dress them alike to be "cute." I dress them alike for their safety and my sanity.
I dress my kids identically for my sanity.
For funsies, let's tackle the sanity piece first. Have you ever packed for a family of 5? It's rather daunting. And then making sure everyone is coordinated enough to avoid family pictures that look like my 4-year-old dressed us all. Heaven help us.
Making sure everyone has their *everything* and nobody is missing socks, undergarments, diapers, or (gasp!) a swimsuit requires advanced skills in materials management that I do not possess. Besides which: I'm not trying to start my vacation stressed out. I've done this more than a few times and the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. I'm not insane. Yet. By packing matching outfits, I can literally lay out everything in a nice grid, and visually make sure we're good to go. I do not need to maintain a mental checklist and that certainly decreases the stress of forgetting something for someone.
Check this out. Everything is arranged nicely and I can see that I'm missing a wetsuit and shorts for my youngest, a sleep shirt for my middle, and my oldest is all set.
Dressing my kids alike has probably saved my marriage. It's definitely saved my vacations.
The second piece of this sanity-saver involves my husband. He's clueless. Whether it's weaponized or not is yet to be determined, but for the sake of this blog and my marriage, I will give him the benefit of the doubt this time.
While it's certainly nice to be with someone who allows me to manage the household without a lot of pushback, there are times I don't want to give GPS coordinates for him to be able to find any of the things. Keeping everything uniform allows me to SHOW HIM exactly what he's looking for. He's an engineer. This level of detail is important.
But mostly I dress them identically for their safety.
Now I know the REALLY startling piece is the safety bit. What's that about? It's actually the main reason I go through this whole song and dance when doing my seasonal shopping.
Kids that are dressed alike are less likely to get lost in the first place.
No, I'm not kidding. I spent a week at Disney in May and I will tell you that when people see your children CLEARLY DRESSED ALIKE, they are more likely to keep you together. Seriously. They are less likely to cut you and your family off and more likely to give your little people space.
It's amazing to watch and, quite frankly, restores my faith in humanity. It is also easier for the parent to spot their little people because you don't have to REMEMBER what any particular kiddo was wearing in a sea of people.
On our most recent trip, my kiddos wore bright pink shirts with rainbow striped shorts. I figured less than a handful of people would be wearing either and so I could spot my kids from up high OR by looking down low between the sea of legs. And I was right! Khaki? Plenty. Navy? Absolutely. Rainbow stripes? Not so much.
Kids that are dressed identically are easier to find
Imagine for a moment you are a panic-stricken parent who has lost their child. And you have a few. Are you CERTAIN you are going to remember EXACTLY what that particular child was wearing? I'm not and I don't want to leave it to chance.
All the TikTok tips in the world aren't going to help you if you can't remember what your kiddo was wearing to begin with. In a world where your children have dressed alike - you WILL remember this information because you've seen it three times and/or have an exact replica nearby. This also becomes helpful if you need to get higher authorities involved in the search for your kiddo.
Here's how to pull this off for your family.
At this point you might be thinking this is a really smart idea (or not) an wondering how to pull this off for your own family. You probably have kids in multiple different sizes and want them to be comfortable, but highly visible.
The shopping part is easy. Find a store that can accommodate both a large age range AND patterns that are cute but aren't everywhere. Plenty of stores are in the "matching family" market, but I shop at Primary and Tea Collection almost exclusively for this reason.
Primary is almost always running some type of sale and Tea Collection runs significant sales around holidays (i.e. Memorial Day, Labor Day, Black Friday, etc.). You really can't go wrong with either.
Last but not least...
In highly congested places (like Boston or Disney, for example), I also stick a safety tattoo on each of my kids.
This way, if they get lost, they have my phone number easily available and they don't have to remember a long string of numbers when they're stressed. Pretty sure my husband doesn't even know my phone number on a normal day, so I'm not expecting a stressed-out three-year-old to get it right.
I place it somewhere easily visible so that it's more likely for another adult to see it, as opposed to my kids trying to remember it's there and communicate that to a stranger. Again, I'm not trying to leave it to chance. You can pick them up on Etsy.
Spending a few moments NOW on safety will decrease your stress exponentially later
With a little intentionality in your life, you'll be on your way to a less stressful public outing with your favorite little people. There will absolutely still be tantrums and tears (theirs and yours), but by spending a few minutes considering safety before the activity, you can (hopefully) decrease the cortisol and maybe keep your shit together until the ride home. Take it from me, it's absolutely worth it and people tend to respect the uniform. Good luck and happy adventuring.
Have you tried matching outfits for your kids?
Let us know what your experience was like in the comments below!
Our next reco: Tips for Flying with a Baby (Free Packing Checklist)