Via the answers to five questions Bessi Graham kindly gives her view on Clothing Children.
1. As a woman and a mum you fill a variety of roles everyday. Can you describe some of those roles?
I am a wife and mother as well as a person building a business in a new emerging sector which is massively demanding and carries with it challenge and opportunity!
Because of the way we want to raise our kids my husband and I have chosen to swap roles - meaning he is what would traditionally be the "female role" of "primary caregiver".
We knew to do my job well I needed to be focused and that meant Brad needing to be at home more and able to be the main person holding our family together. This has meant that I no longer cook, do the food shop or the washing! When I say we've swapped I really mean it!
The question of roles interests me because our experience over the last few years has shown us that so many stereotypes about "sex" are actually more to do with "role". When you swap roles many of the male/female stereotypes that applied to the opposite sex suddenly start to be things you experience... Fascinating, but a conversation for another blog!!!
2. Who is in your family?
I consider my family to be my husband Brad, my step daughter and my two sons. They're my favourite people in the world!
3. What is important to you about the clothes your children wear? Does your philosophy, approach to life or ethical choices affect your children's clothing?
I probably have the daggiest children around and I LOVE that! I dress my kids for comfort and practicality. My favourite kids clothes are hand-me-downs, I love free things! My kids spend more time in their pajamas (or naked!) than anything else. I let them wear pajamas in public, bare feet in public, it really doesn't phase me.
My kids are gorgeous and loved, and they know that. Their clothes are simply practical, nothing more.
Of course if we were going to a special event I'd make sure they looked smart but I'd still never buy them expensive clothes or dress them up for every day life.
With my step daughter, who is a teenager, it is slightly different. Two reasons: one, she's a girl so there is an added layer of wanting to help her to learn how to be confident in her skin and how to dress for her body shape, her own style and colouring. Secondly, she's older so teaching her the wonderful art of learning that a bit of modesty, and leaving something for the imagination, is much more tasteful and appealing that being trashy is important to me. Even with her though she has never placed a great deal of importance on clothes and we've certainly never spent a stack of cash on clothes for her. I'd rather her have a small wardrobe of clothes that suit her, fit her well and make her feel good than heaps of ill-fitting, unflattering, cheap clothes.
I don't replace clothes for my kids until they are completely RUINED! Most of their clothes were hand me downs, then get worn by both of them and then get passed on to my cousins son!
When I do need to buy them clothes it tends to be for my oldest son (if we don't have enough hand me downs in the next size up!). I wait for sales and then I buy 3x short sleeve t-shirts, 3x long-sleeve t-shirts, 2x jumpers, 3x shorts, 3x long pants (usually at least two of these are track suit pants for comforts sake), underwear and socks. I have never spent more than $200-$250 on all of the items listed above that they need in one size. When I have done that I then pass the clothes down to my next son and then on to my cousins son so pretty good value I'm sure they'll get passed on again after that too!
If the kids are particularly interested in a certain toy, character or theme I've bought them a t-shirt or pajamas featuring that favourite thing but because that's "special" we give them that as a birthday or Christmas present. I do take their colouring into consideration when I buy clothes too I must admit! Luckily for me both boys have the same colouring which helps!
5. From your experience, what tips would you give a mum grappling with clothing her children?
I'd simply say think practically and let them be kids. They'll have plenty of time to be sophisticated and dashing (if they want to be) when they're an adult. If you buy flash, expensive clothes you'll end up stifling their play because you'll be more concerned with them ripping their pants or staining their shirt... That's just unnecessary stress in my mind.
I consider one of my main jobs as a parent as teaching our kids the art of "time and place". There is a time and place for most things in life and the ability to make wise judgements about that is what they need to learn. Clothes are a bit the same, time and place need to be taken into account.
In our family home is a place for pajamas and chilling out and that's just the way we like it.