Let's Be Reasonable
We've been in Florida for almost two weeks now, and we've got about a week to go. It's been a nice change of pace, but I think when we depart for balmy Minnesota next Friday, we'll be ready to head back. We'll be ready to be home, not ready for the three days of return travel. Obviously one of the things that has been nice about being in a warmer climate, especially with children, has been the ability to spend our days in more casual attire and not have to worry about winter coats and snowpants everytime we go outdoors.
Shortly after we arrived at the place we are currently staying, Jess made the comment that you could definitely tell the house was a vacation house, because while they had an ample supply of things you need to go about your everyday life, nothing was excessive. They provided us with towels, but not eleven different sets to choose from like Monica on "Friends". Everything seemed pretty simple and straightforward. Everything you need, nothing you don't. Okay, we likely won't use the formal dining area at all during our stay here, but you get the point. Jess mentioned that might be a good way to declutter our own home when we get back. Keep only the items we would use on vacation and purge out all of the extra stuff.
From an apparel standpoint, this can be easier said than done, especially because when you are on vacation you likely don't need much because you aren't doing much. If you are going to the beach everyday or every third day as we've been doing, you can usually opt for the same thing - swimsuit, flipflops, floral shirt and oversized hat. Obviously that would not fly, even on a casual Friday, at most places of employment. Except at my "job", where the dress code is considerably more lax. This is one of the very seemingly small things that I think can make parenting incredibly less stressful. I would think that anyone who has shown up at the office with baby spit-up all over the shoulder of their dress shirt might agree. My kids don't care what I wear, as long as I wear something - they're not to the point of being embarrased by me in public yet (more to come on that later). I have been known to wear the same clothes for multiple days in a row. As Andrew McMahon likes to rhetorically ask in song, "When did society decide that we have to change and wash a t-shirt after every individual use?"
There is something to be said though about the simplicity of mundane decisions, like getting dressed, when you are on vacation or traveling. When I spent my semester abroad, I lived out of a backpack for four months. My options were pretty limited, and this was great because the making the choice of what to wear was often times made for me. I have three shirts; one is dirty, and one I wore yesterday, so naturally I'm going to wear the third (I think I had like five shirts, but you get my jist). Author Barry Schwartz points out in his book The Paradox of Choice, that while we believe having numerous options is a good thing, often times we suffer from choice paralysis when it comes to some decisions. There was a great article a few months ago about why some of the smartest/most influential people wear/wore the same thing day in and day out. One less choice to make.
I also think there is an aspect of reasonability at play here as well. Here, in sunny SW Florida, it seems reasonable to see people in shorts and Ft. Myers Beach tank tops going about their day because, well, it's SW Florida. Back in Minnesota, it seems reasonable, espeically this time of the year, for someone heading to the office in a suit and tie to also be sporting (at least while outdoors) some massive snowboots. What I often find perplexing are the clothing-related societal traditions we tend to hang on to for nonrationale reasons. At my last job, I worked a lot of wedding receptions, most of which took place in the hot and humid summer. It always amused me when a sweaty (often intoxicated) groomsman or father of the bride/groom would come up to me during the reception and demand to get the air conditioning cranked up more. It seems reasonable that he should expect to feel comfortable in a three-piece wool suit on a 90 degree day in late July, right? Or the whole concept of women wearing high heels to look more attractive. And of course those doctors that wear ties must be better at what they do.
When it comes to getting kids dressed, reasonability is my first concern, and that means it seems reasonable that my kids should be dressed in clothes. Period. The next concern should be if they are within a reasonable margin of error (plus or minus one season) for weather appropriateness. It is merely bonus points if those clothes match or are what a Gap ad deems as "cute". My general operating procedure is that I only dress my kids in things that I have seen them wear before. I recently learned that this results in a lot of "color blocking" which my wife informed me, "isn't necessarily a bad thing." Luckily Isla has been able to dress herself for some time now, so my objective with her is convincing her to actually get dressed. Getting Havi dressed draws many similarities of a Greco-Roman wrestling match. Gus screams and kicks too (obviously), but my goal with him is a little different (avoid getting urinated on). Both Isla and Havi are perfectly comfortable traipsing around the house in their undergarments like someone else in the family (I'll let you guess who); even in the winter when we keep the thermostats at a brisk 62 degrees.
When we get home I'll put away the swim trunks (Jess will probably throw them in the garbage) and resume my routine of wearing either the jeans with the stitched up hole in the crotch (Thanks, Mom!) or the other ones. I haven't yet found the male equivalent to yoga pants. I suppose I could just start doing yoga (or say that I do) so I can wear the pants. I hear they are pretty amazing. If you seem me out and about with the kids and I'm wearing the same thing you saw me in last time I was out and about with the kids, go ahead and pass all the judgement you want. I'm just glad that we're wearing clothes. You should be too, considering the alternative of course.
Maybe for the 4 & under crowd.