Keeping clothes clean...whose responsibility? How do you handle - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 21 Old 05-20-2013, 12:41 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My little girl is 5 and by most respects cares about her appearance, likes her hair done, likes girly things, willingly cleans her room when asked, is a super sweet and helpful girl.  All this to say that she is a bit of a slob when it comes to keeping her clothes clean.  Every. single. day. when she comes from school her uniform is dribbled with food, hand prints, splatters, it is mind boggling how a little girl can get so dirty at a school that doesn't even have a real playground!  I do know that she does wipe her hands on her clothes, wipe her mouth on her clothes and also put her shirt in her mouth to chew/suck on. 

 

I have addressed all of the issues I know of.  Told her she is not allowed to wipe her hands/mouth on her clothes, to use a napkin, to wash her hands, wipe her mouth in the bathroom with water and paper towels.  It doesn't seem to sink in, the habit seems deep and that worries me that I can't break it!

 

I see other children when I pick her up from school and they are not stained and dirty or disheveled and it's disheartening!  What can I do?  What do you do?  Are your kids responsible for keeping their clothes clean?  Help me!?!

 

And BTW I do use stain removers and pre-soaks and all the laundry tools I can to try and clean up after the fact, but I want to find a way to get through to her about taking of her own things in some way when it comes to her clothes.

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#2 of 21 Old 05-20-2013, 01:31 PM
 
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Honestly, I find both my dd's get stuff all over their clothes every day too (they're 3 & 6).  They also have that tendency to wipe everything off on their clothes.  On one hand, I'd much rather they wipe things on their clothes than the sofa or chairs or the rug, but I get the frustration OP.  I really try to just hand them a napkin, hanky, or wet washcloth and say 'here - you need this' and assume they'll eventually grow out of this.

 

 

I DO think that she could absolutely participate in some of the extra cleaning work - like mixing up and tossing her clothes in a bucket to soak overnight for you, using some kind of stain stick and going through a pile of her clothes to treat for you.  She might even find it a bit fun.  

I used to have to scrub the bottoms of my socks for my mom when they were too dirty, and for awhile my sister was only 'allowed' to wear black pants (because they always got so dirty and getting them clean was just too much for my mom).  It's not exactly a horrible thing to assist with, and laundry is actually a task that's within a kids means to help out with.      

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#3 of 21 Old 05-20-2013, 01:48 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I appreciate your thoughts and I will enlist her help, maybe she will see the dirt from another angle?  Either way.

 

I think I must be wanting a magic solution, but there probably is not one, lol!

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#4 of 21 Old 05-20-2013, 02:32 PM
 
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It's expensive to keep buying them clothes for school like that.  My daughter was very hard on her pants at that age, and it felt like I was spending more money on jeans than most parents.

 

Some kids are just pigpen-ish.  Like the Peanuts character, dirt just seems to stick to them but not others.  They walk out of your house in the morning adorable, with hair in clippies, and they come home looking like they just rode a motorcycle through a food fight.  I have no idea how they get like that.

 

I think you just chip away at it until she eventually starts to remember not to wipe her hands on her clothes.  She'll get there, just not any time soon.  

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#5 of 21 Old 05-20-2013, 02:43 PM
 
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My kids are 3 and 5 and I just accept the dirt. Dirty clothes in a five year old are signs of an active, joyful life. We work on napkins/hand washing/art supplies but it is totally normal to get really dirty every day. I am not sure I'd want my kid to come home from school clean.

 

One thing I have found is that better quality clothes really do launder well. If she has to wear a uniform my sister swears byt the Lands End ones.

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#6 of 21 Old 05-20-2013, 03:40 PM
 
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With my 2 oldest we always say if both of them were playing in a mud puddle my dd would be covered from head to toe and ds wouldn't even need his hands wiped off. It's just their personalities.

Sounds like some of your issues aren't that she's "messy" it's that your Are frustrated that she's chewing on her shirt not using a napkin, etc. and for that I would say just keep plugging along with teaching her those skills.
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#7 of 21 Old 05-20-2013, 06:45 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by JudiAU View Post

My kids are 3 and 5 and I just accept the dirt. Dirty clothes in a five year old are signs of an active, joyful life. We work on napkins/hand washing/art supplies but it is totally normal to get really dirty every day. I am not sure I'd want my kid to come home from school clean.

 

One thing I have found is that better quality clothes really do launder well. If she has to wear a uniform my sister swears byt the Lands End ones.

While I understand and appreciate the sentiment behind what you are saying in your first few sentences, I have to respectfully disagree in some regard.  I love that she is a happy healthy active girl, I think they are not the same thing.  I certainly don't think that all of the children who go home cleaner than my girl are some how less joyful/less active.  I don't want her to play less, but that doesn't mean I do want her to use her uniform as a jumper-sized napkin either, y'know?  I don't want her to be more inhibited in her play time, but maybe a little bit more conscientious when she is eating so that she doesn't dribble a fair amount of each thing she eats at lunch down the front of herself! 

I agree with a pp that she is totally a little dirt magnet.  And she does come home looking like she went through a food fight on a motorcycle!!!

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#8 of 21 Old 05-20-2013, 06:49 PM - Thread Starter
 
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With my 2 oldest we always say if both of them were playing in a mud puddle my dd would be covered from head to toe and ds wouldn't even need his hands wiped off. It's just their personalities.

Sounds like some of your issues aren't that she's "messy" it's that your Are frustrated that she's chewing on her shirt not using a napkin, etc. and for that I would say just keep plugging along with teaching her those skills.

You are totally right, I am much less worried about the actual dirt than I am with the habits that contribute to her over-all uckiness!  I guess part of it is that it just surprises me that she is like this.  She is a very bright girl who likes to clean up and help mommy around the house and I have said over and over(although probably not consistently enough) to please use a napkin and get your shirt out of your mouth and she doesn't seem to be latching on to it.  I am having a light bulb moment right now though, I think.  I wonder if it is just my disbelief that is stopping me from consistency and ultimately if she doesn't believe I'm in it then she isn't in it either......y'know!

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#9 of 21 Old 05-20-2013, 09:16 PM
 
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I found a lot of success with this issue in my preschool class by holding up my used napkin and asking "do you want your clothes to look like this " and when the kids said no I asked them what we could do to stop that from happening. I did this maybe five times in a few weeks span and napkins are used constantly now with no nagging or reminders.

My was always messy but I had a lot of success with oxy spray so I never worried and she grew out of it on her own. Last year I did notice that my detergents were no longer working and I experimented with many cheap brands before going with a pricey name brand. There was an immediate difference in quality so you might consider a new detergent if the spray isn't working.
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#10 of 21 Old 05-20-2013, 09:21 PM
 
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Originally Posted by dauphinette View Post

get your shirt out of your mouth and she doesn't seem to be latching on to it.

 

 

First, she is just 5 and I think you are expecting too much. A lot of little kids are a mess after school -- lunch time alone can do that, much less art, hands on lessons, etc. Even without the playground, they may be working with stamps, markers, paint, etc just for writing lessons! Yes, some kids are neat fairly young, and you didn't one of those. winky.gif  Also, the kids at the school I work at get ONE small, thin, napkin. A lot of them use it, and then use their clothes. They can ask for another one, but most don't. It isn't so much that they don't use the napkin, but that it really wasn't adequate for entire meal that they are mostly eating with their fingers. 

 

Second, is she stressed? Chewing on clothes isn't really a messy thing. It could be a stress release or a sensory seeking thing.


but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#11 of 21 Old 05-21-2013, 07:19 AM
 
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My DD did both of things earlier this school year. I haven't seen a sleeve hole in months and she must be going to the napkin/utensil table on a more regular basis.
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#12 of 21 Old 05-21-2013, 07:55 AM
 
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Well there's a balance here I guess. Kids do get messy at school, but on the other hand she can learn to use a napkin rather than her sleeve, though I don't think she's behind in skills for not being in the habit of doing that yet. I guess I'd keep teaching her to wipe with a napkin instead of her clothes.

One of my kids gets dirty easily. The other one was more difficult overall but was very neat. But the one with an easy personality seems to be filthy all the time. I change her clothes and brush her hair and she seems to be a mess almost instantly again. I think some kids are just messier than others. I suppose the trick is trying to get them to pick up habits that will keep them cleaner (like using a napkin) but habits take some time and repetition to get. It can be maddening. I wonder if it would help if she carried a cloth handkerchief with her, but honestly if she's like my kids, she'd lose it and it would become a tragedy.

I agree with whoever said that the chewing on clothes thing sounds more like a sensory or stress thing than a mess thing. That makes me think that your dd might be sensory seeking in general, and touching messy things a lot for the sensory experience. Maybe creating sensory experiences that are either less messy, or that happen when she is wearing stuff that you don't mind getting messy, might help fill that need? And maybe she could wear a little bracelet she could fidget with or something?
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#13 of 21 Old 05-21-2013, 06:02 PM - Thread Starter
 
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First, she is just 5 and I think you are expecting too much. A lot of little kids are a mess after school -- lunch time alone can do that, much less art, hands on lessons, etc. Even without the playground, they may be working with stamps, markers, paint, etc just for writing lessons! Yes, some kids are neat fairly young, and you didn't one of those. winky.gif  Also, the kids at the school I work at get ONE small, thin, napkin. A lot of them use it, and then use their clothes. They can ask for another one, but most don't. It isn't so much that they don't use the napkin, but that it really wasn't adequate for entire meal that they are mostly eating with their fingers. 

 

Second, is she stressed? Chewing on clothes isn't really a messy thing. It could be a stress release or a sensory seeking thing.

She is a sensory girl.  And I guess I don't know how to know if she is stressed or not.

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#14 of 21 Old 05-21-2013, 07:19 PM
 
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My seven year old ds is always dirty. It's just his normal state. He attracts grub.


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#15 of 21 Old 05-22-2013, 11:07 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Well there's a balance here I guess. Kids do get messy at school, but on the other hand she can learn to use a napkin rather than her sleeve, though I don't think she's behind in skills for not being in the habit of doing that yet. I guess I'd keep teaching her to wipe with a napkin instead of her clothes.

One of my kids gets dirty easily. The other one was more difficult overall but was very neat. But the one with an easy personality seems to be filthy all the time. I change her clothes and brush her hair and she seems to be a mess almost instantly again. I think some kids are just messier than others. I suppose the trick is trying to get them to pick up habits that will keep them cleaner (like using a napkin) but habits take some time and repetition to get. It can be maddening. I wonder if it would help if she carried a cloth handkerchief with her, but honestly if she's like my kids, she'd lose it and it would become a tragedy.

I agree with whoever said that the chewing on clothes thing sounds more like a sensory or stress thing than a mess thing. That makes me think that your dd might be sensory seeking in general, and touching messy things a lot for the sensory experience. Maybe creating sensory experiences that are either less messy, or that happen when she is wearing stuff that you don't mind getting messy, might help fill that need? And maybe she could wear a little bracelet she could fidget with or something?

Exactly, I don't want to be misunderstood, I do get that kids get messy, they do messy things at school and I am sure you are very right in saying she probably needs more napkins at lunch time.

 

I just need some ideas on angles to try and hit so that I can help her see that clothes cost mommy money and since she likes to like nice I need a little help!

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#16 of 21 Old 05-22-2013, 02:06 PM
 
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I understand your frustration. My DS wears holes in the knees of his pants SO quickly, it drives me crazy! My solution this year has been to send him to school in shorts unless it's truly truly cold (we live in SoCal, so there aren't many too-cold days). I understand the old tradition of not letting boys wear long pants until age 12 now -- I wonder if that was a purely practical rule that mothers made up after having to mend pants one too many times. 

 

Anyway, for your DD, are you the one packing her snack/lunch for school or does the school provide it? If you're packing it, could you buy some really cute/fun napkins to encourage her to use them, or pack an individual wet wipe? (I know, expensive and wasteful, but maybe you'll only have to do it for a few months until she gets the hang of it.) The shirt-chewing is tougher to address -- I guess just constant reminders until she outgrows it. My friend's son is required to wear collared shirts for school, but chews on all his collars, and it drives her crazy too. She wishes she could just send him to school in t-shirts, because he doesn't chew those! 


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#17 of 21 Old 05-22-2013, 09:46 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Oh, I love the idea of sending a cute napkin AND a wet wipe, both.  Thank you, this is what I needed to hear :)

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#18 of 21 Old 05-22-2013, 09:48 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My friend's son is required to wear collared shirts for school, but chews on all his collars, and it drives her crazy too. She wishes she could just send him to school in t-shirts, because he doesn't chew those! 

Yeah, the uniforms are SO much more expensive than it would be for me to go to the thirft store and just buy some grubby play clothes to send her.  Each jumper is $40 and each blouse is $30 but even her sock get so dirty and they have to be the school socks which have an emblem so they cant be bleached, it is a mom's nightmare, lol!

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#19 of 21 Old 05-26-2013, 08:18 PM
 
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She is a sensory girl.  And I guess I don't know how to know if she is stressed or not.

 

 

What is currently being done to address her sensory issues, especially while she is at school?


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#20 of 21 Old 05-27-2013, 12:13 AM
 
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I wish I had some helpful advise for you, but I don't.  If she is doing this till the age of 13 then you know you have problem.  Yes, I work with 13 year olds that still do this.  Hopefully it is just a stage.  All kids do develop differently.  I have little no experience dealing with kids from this age group.  

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#21 of 21 Old 05-27-2013, 08:57 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Ummm, I feel silly saying nothing, but that's the truth.  I guess I have always had a vague understanding that she had some sensory "things" but that has been the extent of things.  What am I missing out on?  What should I be doing/knowing/reading/etc?  Thanks for asking, I appreciate the thoughts.

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