Miss O is entering Junior Kindergarten this year. Where I’m from, kids start at age 4. We opted to send her to private school which means she has to wear a uniform. Everyone always says “it’s so much easier when they wear uniforms!” Yeah, that’s what they think. They’re not the ones who have to take a 4 year old clothes shopping. Have you endured this nightmare? Because I sure have and I’m here to keep you from pulling out your hair. Yes folks, I did the dirty work for you.
Miss O hates clothes shopping. She loves to choose her own outfit in the morning but getting her to try on clothes in a store is like trying to baptize a cat. Only a heck of a lot more tears. She’s still at the age where I can just buy most of her clothes and she’s happy to wear them. I know what she likes and what she doesn’t like so it’s pretty easy. Basically, as long as it’s pink and/or sparkly, she’ll wear it. Here’s where uniform shopping became really fun: Her uniform isn’t pink or sparkly. It’s navy blue & yellow. And she has to wear black shoes. Oh, the horror!
Getting your kindergartener prepared for uniforms is a new battle (because you don’t have enough of those already). Finding uniform pants that fit correctly is next to impossible, especially when your school uses a specified uniform company. Have you see those pants? They’re stiff, the adjustable waist is just nonsense and the sizing is seriously messed up. Miss O wears a size 5. But not in uniform clothes! Surprise!
Here’s a few tips to get you through the nightmare
- First and foremost, ask the school the exact uniform protocol. While Miss O’s school requires a few specific items with the insignia on them, I found out that the bottoms are pretty much a free-for-all. Private schools tend to be a bit more stringent on uniform protocols but I found that the director of her school is very understanding for the younger kids. This opened up a world of possibility knowing that I could visit any of the big chain stores and grab pants in a size 5 that I knew would fit. I also inquired about sweatpants for gym class and asked if yoga pants were okay. She said as long as the pants are navy blue, it doesn’t matter where they came home. *phew* So if you aren’t sure, ASK! Ask the school, ask a fellow parent you may know with an older child in the school. Don’t go at it alone!
- Stores in Canada that carry uniform clothes:
- Old Navy
- The Gap
- Children’s Place
- Joe Fresh
- Carter’s/Osh Kosh
- Stores in Canada that carry uniform clothes:
- Pants with buttons. Seriously? They make these for 4 year olds? Does your 4 year old know how to do the button on their pants? Mine sure doesn’t. Upon ranting to my mother about how Miss O was just going to have to walk around with her pants undone all day, she gave me a brilliant solution. Remove the button and sew it on the front of the pants, covering the button hole. On the reverse side of the button hole, sew on some velcro or a hook & eye clasp. You do not need to possess any sort of sewing skills to accomplish this. Navy pants + navy thread = invisible mistakes. I picked up a 6-pack of hook & eyes for trousers & skirts from Walmart for $1.67. Velcro is also dirt cheap. You can do this!
- Belts. There are a lot of belts available for young kids that they will be able to figure out. This will also help them to, you know, keep their pants up. You can also find things such as toddler pants adjusters that loop through the back 2-3 belt loops only, simply google it for the many options available. This will reduce the need to fuss with a belt in the washroom but still ensure your kid’s pants will stay up.
- Shoes. Oh, the horror of my pink lady having to wear black shoes. Here’s where we found a compromise: black shoes that are pink on the inside. Thank you, Geox, for making these wonderful Mary Jane’s that are pink inside and have a small flower embroidered with black thread on the top of the shoe. I knew these shoes were approved because they sold them at the uniform store; however, being the thrifty parent that I am, I went to a local discount shoe store and found the exact same shoes for $10 less. And it was buy one, get one half off so I endured the torture of finding winter boots for her at the same time. On the plus side, there are no stipulations regarding gym running shoes at her school so this was also a wonderful compromise. She’s got an awesome pair of pink & mint runners she’s excited to wear three days a week.
- Ask for help in the stores. Don’t be afraid! I was at my wits end during the shoe shopping debacle of 2016. I found a wonderful woman working in the store who had a big smile on her face. This was the person I wanted to help me not leave the store crying and empty-handed. She was a saint. She had patience and then some. She made me feel like less of a horrible parent. And if the store clerk really isn’t as helpful as you had hoped, don’t be afraid to politely ask them if they have another clerk who is more knowledgeable in the specific department.
- Skirts & tunics. Do you have a little girl? Save yourself the headache and buy them the uniform skirts/kilts and/or tunics. Get some little bicycle shorts to wear underneath and you’re all set. Thick tights will work for the winter months. Honestly, the pants are a last resort for me. Miss O has to wear her formal uniform once a week. So that’s only one day per week that I have to deal with the pants nightmare. I can handle that. Cold winter days may provide more pant headaches but I’ll deal with that when the time comes.
- Used uniforms. I bet you any money that your school has a used uniform sale once or twice a year. Miss O’s school has one at the end of the school year and also right before the school year begins. Unfortunately, the end-of-year one fell on her birthday and I didn’t want to torture the kid on her special day so I didn’t check it out. The beginning-of-the-year sale is next week and I hope to pick up a few things. This will also save you major $$$.
- Alterations. When all else fails, take it to the professionals. Feed your kid before you go to avoid a hangry toddler and bribe them with ice cream and candy for afterwards if they behave. If you decide to get alterations done, check with the uniform company as they may have a special deal or discount with a particular tailor. For Miss O, I get 10% off at a local chain.
I promise that you will get through this! Asking for help from anyone and everyone around you is the best way to keep you from tearing out your hair. I’m right here with you in the battle and I hope and pray that this will be nothing but a memory after the first week or two at school. It’s got to be smooth sailing after the first year…right?
Andrea can always be found with a new craft in front of her, a form of technology on her right and a coffee on her left. This is how she survives suburbia with her two crazy toddlers in tow.