I admit it. I do not like laundry, especially trying to get stains out of the kid’s clothing. But here is the dilemma, I wholeheartedly believe in kids playing outside, splashing in puddles, making mud pies, and getting dirty. It sounds like a no win situation. Kids play outside equals mom desperately huddled in the laundry room trying to google how to get the latest combination of grass, mud, dandelion, marker, ketchup, and popsicle out of dear daughter’s pants.
I’ve figured out the essential children’s clothing that solves this issue. My solution is simple, play clothes.
What Are Play Clothes? (AKA: Essential children’s clothing so moms can stress less)
Play clothes are comfortable clothes that my kids typically wear around home when we are home all day or when they are going to play and get messy. The kids wear these clothes to perform science experiments, eat ice cream cones on the deck, camp, hike, or just go play outside in the backyard. They’ve actually had play clothes since they were babies! Play clothes are meant to take on the most wear, tear, and stains of childhood. (The kids’ other clothes can then stay in better condition and get far less stains, too.)
These are essential children’s clothing because these clothes have a free pass to get super messy. And the last time I checked, kids are super messy.
How Do Play Clothes Help A Family Be More Intentional?
Freedom for the kids
In play clothes, kids have the luxury to roll down a hill, dive after a ball, play in mud puddles, and explore the woods. They have permission to get messy and dirty. Outdoor free play helps kids develop motor skills, reasoning skills, and confidence.
Painting and other messy projects are great time to wear play clothes. Better yet, go outside to the little picnic table to paint. (Everything then can be washed clean with rain or a garden hose, including kids on a hot day. 😉)
Not that my kids don’t get messy in their other clothes, they do. It’s just play clothes are supposed to get messy. When kids wear play clothes, they can focus on playing. They don’t have to worry about ripping a hole in their pants or splattering mud up to their knees.
My daughter is a beautiful combination of neatness and energetic messy, fun-loving play. On more than one occasion, she has asked me if she was wearing her play clothes. When I responded with a yes, she took off running and shouting, “Yaaaaaay!” Her typical neat self gets time off to simply go play.
Less Stress for Mom
Here is my secret and why play clothes are essential children’s clothing for me. I don’t worry about washing stains out of play clothes. I don’t even try to get them out. No pretreating, no soaking, and no scrubbing. Play clothes get thrown in the wash with detergent, and I walk away. I don’t care if they have holes in them or stains down the front. They get a basic wash and put away in the play clothes drawer.
The purpose of play clothes is to allow my kids to get messy and enjoy their childhood while I happily let them. When my child runs up to me to hand me the handpicked bouquet of dandelions, my first thought is about his loving gesture, not the mud splattered all over his clothes. I can enjoy the little moments more and not think about the stains I am going to have to get out later.
Play clothes allow me to relax and enjoy the fleeting moments of motherhood more and helps me create more Little Moments to Connect with my kids through fun play together.
How to Afford Play Clothes?
Hand Me Downs
Play clothes are great because they can come to you already in play condition. When you get hand me down clothes with holes and stains, they are perfect play clothes! You didn’t spend any money on them, and they’re already well experienced at playing.
Good Clothes Turned Play Clothes
I just went through my daughter’s pile of leggings. She’s somehow managed to put holes in at least 7 pairs this year. 🤦♀️On a good note, she has more than enough play clothes for this summer. I’ll cut some off for shorts, keep some as pants, and give some away.
School or “good” clothing that is now worn down, stained, or are starting to get a little small all make great play clothes. Again, the price is right, too.
Don’t forget to keep play shoes on hand to complete the outfit. Old tennis shoes, crocs, and rain boots all make great play shoes.
Garage Sales and Thrift Stores
If you don’t get hand me downs, garage sales are a good place for play clothes. I like to go to community garage sales where I can hit several houses within a short amount of time. Try to find a sale where the clothes are cheap, like $0.25 or $0.50 each. Don’t forget to look for boxes labeled free. Again, it doesn’t matter if they are stained or have holes. Think of these as hand me downs from a friend you just met today.
Churches and other non-profits often have rummage sales during the summer where you can usually buy clothing by donation or a grocery bag full at a time, too. These are a great way to help a good cause and get affordable play clothes.
If I haven’t convinced you yet that play clothes are essential children’s clothing, give it a try for a day. Watch as your children’s eyes light up when you tell them they can get as messy as they want in their play clothes? Feel yourself relax as you don’t have to figure out how to get stains out of these clothes today. And maybe, just maybe, you can enjoy your coffee while it’s still hot as you watch your children happily play in your backyard.