What is it with kids and coats?! I love coats. I just bought another one last week. (It was on sale, I swear.) I’m already fantasizing about the coat I want to buy for next winter. Canada Goose, please! Coats keep me warm. Coats protect me from frigid wind and wet snow. Coats are my friend.
But not to kids. To kids, especially sensory kids and specifically my sensory kid, coats are sheaths of discomfort, veils of anxiety, and shrouds of misery. Coats confine, constrict, and constrain. Coats are the enemy.
As the mom of a kid who would rather eat worms than wear a coat, I have some practical advice for parents in the throes of coat season.
- Move someplace warm. I just moved my kids from South Florida to New Jersey, so evidently I didn’t get the memo.
- Do your homework. If moving isn’t in the cards (or you just moved to New Jersey), begin your coat research in mid July. You’ll need plenty of time to find one with no tags, zippers, buttons, pockets, Velcro, long sleeves, or too much “puff.” Good luck with that!
- Don’t make him wear a coat. Gasp! If he’s cold, he’ll put on a coat. Maybe, maybe not. Kids, and sensory kids in particular, have crap loads of willpower. If the absence of a coat, the fear of hypothermia, and/or the stares from judgmental parents are too much to handle, skip to #4.
- Adopt a litter of puppies. Wrap your kid in a cloak of said puppies. He’ll be warm and happy forevermore.
- Allergic to dogs? Find a basic coat (see #2) that’s lined on the inside with fleece as soft as a puppy (see #4). Then, break two toothpicks in half and place the pieces inside your favorite sock while humming “Row, Row, Row Your Boat,” flush three ice cubes down the toilet, hop on your left foot six times, eat a bowl of chocolate chip ice cream, and say a prayer.
- Blame someone or something else. Where the hell is Daddy every morning at coat o’clock?! Buy an indoor thermometer that reads the temperature outside. Hang a sign next to it that says: “When the temperature goes below [fill in the blank] degrees, you must wear a coat.” Kids are excellent at torturing Mommy but far less skilled at whining and crying at small appliances.
- In exchange for wearing a coat, let your kid wear shorts. All the boys are doing it! A coat on top and shorts on bottom will create balance and order in the universe, and it won’t look ridiculous at all. Just avoid snow boots. Snow boots and shorts will turn heads.
- Harness the power of guilt. There have been many mornings when, out of pure desperation, I’ve reminded my son of all the poor and neglected children in the world who don’t have coats to keep them warm, how fortunate he is to have parents who can afford to provide him with a coat to keep him warm, and how disappointed I am that he doesn’t appreciate just how lucky he is to have a (flipping!) coat to keep him warm! It almost never works, but someone has to win the lottery, right?
- Distract him. Throw a pie at your kid’s face, hire a clown, or pop a confetti cannon when it’s time to put on the coat. Do whatever it takes to get him out the door without realizing his coat is actually on.
- Buy another coat. I hate this piece of advice because as much as I love shopping, buying a kid another coat is a fool’s errand. The only coat he wants is a notacoat (not a coat), and by the time he goes down the outerwear rabbit hole, stores will only have coats in stock that are XXS, XXL, or NOS (Not On Sale).
However bad your coat struggle is this winter, keep in mind that warm weather battles over putting on sunscreen are right around the corner. In the meantime, pay close attention to your kid’s coat hysteria and take notes so you can shop smarter next year. With my kid, it was the top of the zipper that poked his skin just underneath his chin that drove him batty. Zippers are the root of all evil. Obviously.