Her clothes, her choice, her confidence—Why my daughter picks her own outfits

My daughter is growing right before my eyes, and I don’t want to be teaching her that matching clothes is what life is about.

Her clothes, her choice, her confidence—Why my daughter picks her own outfits

Lately, the challenges in our house are around choices. Specifically my 3-year-old making decisions for herself on what to wear, what to eat, when to do what she’s asked to do—you get the gist.

My spirited, independent, lively toddler is learning how to assert herself. She’s starting to figure out limits and boundaries and how far she can push me and her father. She is learning about who she is and the world around her.

This is the beginning of her figuring out what she likes and doesn’t like, what she wants and doesn’t want.

It is exactly what I want to be happening—right?


But I’ll let you in on a little secret: I like to make choices, too. Because I’m used to being in control and because honestly, sometimes it’s just easier.

However, as Grandmother Willow in Pocahontas says, “Sometimes the right path is not the easiest one.” (And yes—I did just quote a fictional tree character from a Disney movie. #MomLife)

‘Easy’ doesn’t always mean ‘better for our children.’

So it seems that ‘choices’ are challenging for all of us around here these days.

The other day when I asked my daughter to put on the clothes I picked for her and she came out of her room wearing a bathing suit and a tutu, I had to stop and think, Is this a battle I want to fight right now?

I decided it was, because it was a chilly day out. Sure, I want her to make choices for herself, but I also want to teach her how to make safe, sound choices. So I explained that it was a cool day and she would probably be more comfortable in a shirt with sleeves and pants of some sort. So I asked her to try again.

And she (very proudly) came out in her sister’s Halloween costume from last year—a Boots the monkey costume. “Mom! This has sleeves! This is a good choice, right?”

I stopped myself again. I really wanted to say, “You are wearing a Halloween costume that is way too tight and we need to go out in public. But I didn’t. I said, You know? You’re right! It does have sleeves. Are you comfortable? Yes? Okay, let’s get going then.” So, off we went.

I am not going to lie. It was hard. I didn’t want her to go out in the monkey costume. I wanted her to put on regular clothes.

But, as her mother, I have to start deciding what I care about or don’t care as much about. Because I am teaching her about life based on what I pay attention to.

What lessons are worth hammering home and which are okay to let slide?

Because—WHY should I care if my daughter put together a pretty wacky outfit (by society’s standards) if she chose it for herself, was proud of herself and didn’t want to be told to take it off? I mean, that’s annoying, and I honestly don’t want to rain on her personal independence day parade.

WHY would I care if she wants to wear her hair up in a ponytail, down in her face, in a braid, with a headband or definitely NOT with a headband, etc.? If she’s happy and comfortable with her hair—I should be too.

WHY do I care about rushing out the door to the library if she doesn’t want to go and she would rather stay home and paint? We can just go to the library another day when she’s in the mood for it.

WHY do I want to demand that she explain to me what’s wrong or why she is upset, when I should be respecting her space and allowing her to feel her emotions? She will come to me when she’s ready and I need to trust that.

WHY do I care that the puzzle pieces are all not fitting properly because some are misplaced? If it is not bothering her and she’s having a grand ol’ time―I better keep my trap shut.

WHY would I care if her socks don’t match? Like, seriously, I have gotten myself sort of worked up about this which is completely ridiculous. Socks should be a non-issue.

The thing is—my daughter is not my project.

The thing is―my daughter is not my prize to show off.

The thing is—my daughter is not my property.

The thing is—my daughter is not me. She is her own person.

What I’m learning, as a still relatively new mother, is that I shouldn’t be caring about superficial stuff. I should be working on letting the things go that don’t really matter.

Because, my daughter is growing right before my eyes, and I don’t want to be teaching her that matching clothes is what life is about.

What I DO want to be teaching her are lessons like—

Doing the right thing is hard, but it always feels better than doing what you know is wrong.

Always speak up for those who can’t.

If someone is playing by themselves at school, ask if they’d like to join you.

Kindness matters. Treat everyone around you with respect.

Open your heart and let others in—don’t be afraid.

Work hard. Believe in what you can do. Practice the things you want to be better at.

Don’t change who you are because what the world tells you is “normal” or “beautiful”—be true to you you are. Be unapologetic about it.

You are a beautiful person—inside, outside, in your heart and soul—you have what it takes to make this world a better place.

And there is only one you. No one else can be a better version of you because you are one-of-a-kind, as we all are. Don’t shy away from what makes you unique. Embrace it. Get comfortable with it.

And don’t let anyone rain on your independence parade, baby. Not even me.

We're so glad to live in a time when modern baby gear exists. Sure, no one is going to argue that having a baby is easy—but it can be easier with support from some gadgets designed to help your baby and put your mind at ease.

As you build your baby registry, look for products that go the extra mile to make your life a whole lot easier. For example, what's better than a bassinet? A bassinet that can rock by itself. And what's better than a traditional baby monitor? One that allows you to actually take a peek at your baby. Believe us when we say these upgrades can make all the difference.

Here are 10 baby gadgets that will make your life so much easier… relatively speaking, of course!

A bassinet to promote safe + sound sleep

HALO Innovations Bassinest Swivel Sleeper Essenta Series Nautical Net

The safest place for your newborn to sleep is in your room, but not in your bed. Thanks to the swivel function of the Halo Bassinest, you can easily tend to your baby during the night—which means more sleep for you, too. Trust us when we say that is the best gift you can give a new parent.


A smart swing for your baby

4moms mamaRoo 4 Bluetooth Enabled High-Tech Baby Swing - Classic

Believe it or not, many babies are born with strong opinions about how they want to be rocked, swung or shushed to calm down. With the mamaRoo's various motions and reclining positions, you'll be able to find a setting your baby loves when you need to free up your hands for a bit.


A complete travel system for car + sidewalk

Chicco Bravo Travel System - Indigo

No matter where the day takes you—or what mode of transportation you need to get there—getting a complete travel system for your baby will equip you for anything.


A swaddle you don’t have to wrestle

Love To Dream Swaddle UP Original

What do babies and Harry Houdini have in common? A knack for breaking out of tight constraints—which can be a headache when swaddling is the best way to help promote good sleep. Thanks to a breakout-proof swaddle that allows your baby to sleep with their hands up, you don't have to work up a sweat just to get your baby comfortably swaddled.


A nursery wherever you need it

Baby Trend Lil Snooze Deluxe II Nursery Center

During the early days of parenting (when you are feeding and changing your baby around the clock), having convenient access to everything you need with a go-anywhere nursery station can save you serious time and energy.


A little help for stuffy noses

Fridababy NoseFrida Nasal Aspirator

Up until the point years down the road when your child is able to blow their own nose, the sniffles can be a real struggle—but not with a nasal aspirator that makes it easy for you to get that snot out of their nose.


A way to keep an eye on your baby

VTech 5" Digital Video Baby Monitor - VM5251

Trust us when we say you'll sleep better when you know your baby is also sleeping soundly. That's why we're so thankful for modern-day video monitors, which allow you to check in on your sleeping baby without running the risk of waking them up when you sneak in for a peek.


A bassinet for hands-free rocking

Simmons Kids Silent Auto Gliding Elite Bassinet - Odyssey

Babies are soothed by rocking motions. But what does that mean for you if you can't rock them throughout the night? With an auto-gliding bassinet, they can comfortably drift off to sleep... and continue snoozing.


An easy way to contain diaper smells

Diaper Genie Expressions Pail

Sometimes it's the little conveniences that make a big difference in the quality of your day-to-day life. That's why a great diaper pail should not be undervalued: By containing the smell, you will save yourself dozens upon dozens of trips to the garbage can.


A white noise machine that pulls double duty

Hatch Rest Sound Machine, Night Light & Time-to-Rise

A phone-controlled sound machine may be something you never considered until now, but it will be a major lifesaver for years to come, especially as it can also function as a time-to-rise clock that promotes good sleep habits for your child.


And as for securing all these awesome products? Well, a Target baby registry is the way to do it. By creating your baby registry with Target, you will also enjoy their Year of Benefits registry program, which includes perks like a welcome kit with more than $100 in savings and samples, two 15% off coupons to complete your registry, and a full year of returns. The benefits are better than ever right now: Target just launched the Year of Exclusive Deals perk as one of its registry benefits, and this includes a year's worth of discounts on baby essentials (think diapers and formula) and comes complementary when you sign up for Target Circle.

Because while parenting may not be "easy," deciding to register with Target definitely is an easy decision. Start your Target baby registry now and enjoy shopping with a Year of Benefits featuring a Year of Exclusive Deals available via Target Circle, two 15% off coupons, a year of hassle-free returns, a free welcome kit and more!

This article was sponsored by Target. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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