My ineptitude as a Mom is never so apparent as when the seasons change, especially when fall turns into winter and it becomes too cold and probably illegal for my kids to wear shorts and t-shirts. I feel lost, like someone pulled the rug from the underneath me, and I get panicky. I have trouble remembering what we all wore the year before, and I fear my kids will legitimately freeze before I find the time and courage to begin what I call “The Switch Over.”
The Switch Over is really just me swapping out all the summery clothes for the wintery ones and buying some new clothes to fill in the gaps. I know it doesn’t sound all that bad, but it causes a stress avalanche that consumes me until Christmas. It’s a good thing that the Christmas season is so calming and relaxing because otherwise I would be headed for a mental breakdown.
The Switch Over has six distinct steps:
Step One: Identify the summery clothes that are too ripped, stained, small, or out of style to be accepted by the kids next year, and either throw them out or donate them. Sometimes this step feels cathartic–purging is after all one of my greatest pleasures–but other times it hits a really sensitive nerve, reminding me that my kids are growing out of their childhood right in front of me and that the day is coming when they won’t let me cup their little buns in the palm of my hand.
Step Two: Haul three 25-gallon plastic bins containing the winter clothes up from the basement. Here is where the panic should start to subside, but it doesn’t, because half of these clothes are also too ripped, stained, small, or out of style and again I have to withstand a flood of emotions that make me wish for a time machine so that I can always hear my last and youngest child mispronounce the word “suppose.” Anyway, the half that remains is not enough to get me through the entire winter, which leads to Step Three.
Step Three: Shop for new clothes. This step used to be easy and almost enjoyable. I would throw a kid or two into a stroller, hit Gymboree, GapKids, and The Children’s Place and emerge with a ton of super cute coordinated outfits. Now that they are older, my kids don’t want to look like Winnie-the-Pooh but Lebron James and so I am not allowed to shop at those stores anymore. My kids want me to shop at The Sports Authority and/or Dick’s Sporting Goods, but OMG have you seen those prices? Sweatpants at the Sports Authority are $65 each, and a single football jersey costs more than $100. Also, nothing really fits my kids because these stores are generally geared toward teens and older.
Step Four: Conduct peer interviews. If you have kids and you run into me during the month of October, I will probably grill you with regard to how and where you shop for your kid’s clothes. I need a reality check. “Am I doing this right? Do you really shop at The Sports Authority? What size pants does your son wear?” It’s amazing how clueless I am compared to everyone else. Most other Moms in the northeast expect the weather to turn colder in the winter and know how to handle it, but I am shocked, confused, and frankly, offended. If you are reading this from Florida or southern California, please know how lucky you are.
Step Five: Suffer rejection. So eventually I will enter The Sports Authority with the right coupons and verify with the salespeople that the clothes I have chosen are something Lebron himself would indeed wear, but my children will almost always reject the first round of winter clothes I bring home for them. It’s true that I might avoid this by bringing them with me, but then I would have to bring them with me. I would much rather make several trips alone than drag even one cranky kid with me in that small sliver of time we never have available.
Step Six: Finally restock the drawers and lug 75 gallons’ worth of summer clothes back to the basement. Step Six takes several weeks to conclude as I finish up the returning and exchanging process at The Sports Authority and slowly work through the laundry, continuing to identify and store those items that are meant for summer. One day around Thanksgiving I will realize it’s all over and that I survived another year. Relief will wash over me, until I hear that first Christmas carol on the radio and then I will wish for the easy breezy days of The Switch Over.