I see posts about the battles between child and parent over school picture day outfits ALL THE TIME. Tears are shed on this day as the two parties try to pick out an outfit, and yet they have very different ideas of what the outfit should look like.
I have a few questions for you as you think about your goals of picture day for your child (whether it be kindergarten pictures, or for your child in middle school)…
When you look back at this picture, what is it that you want to see? What is the purpose of this photo?
Is it to remember your child in this moment? Perhaps remember their favorite outfit, their fun personality quirks, and their true self? Is it to capture this day, this year and bring back fun memories?
Or is it to show them all dressed up?
Is it to see your child confident and happy?
Or is it to see them uncomfortable and frustrated?
The Purpose of School Picture Day
Guys, the purpose to me is to capture the happiness and my child’s likes. I want to look at the photo and remember that my daughter loved matching stripes with stripes, and that her favorite shirt one year was a bug shirt. I want to remember that she refused to wear anything but dresses one year, and that she wore her hair in silly ways another.
I don’t want a posed picture that’s also not representing her true self. I don’t want her shoved into an outfit that she never actually wore or liked, and feeling uncomfortable come picture time.
I want the picture to show her confidence. And the picture is going to show her confidence if she’s wearing something she likes- her favorite outfit. Even if it doesn’t match, or if it is as casual as it gets. I want those outfits in the pictures because when I look back 20 years from now, I am going to smile at those memories. I’d rather be smiling over memories, than remembering the battles and tears over clothing.
“Pick your battles” is a common thing in the back of my mind. I decided long ago, when our daughter could first dress herself and have a say in things, that it was a battle that I didn’t need to fight. Not only that, I didn’t even want to pick out my daughter’s clothes. I wanted to see her personality shine through. I wanted to see her have ownership and feel confident in that way.
I love seeing her mismatched outfits, and her “matched” stripes with stripes. I love helping her do her hair however she wants… with 10 clips or no clips. Because it’s HER.
We made one rule in this house:
The outfit has to make sense.
That’s it. It has to make sense.
So on cold days, when our daughter wants to wear a dress, she has to wear pants under it to stay warm.
And if she’s going to ballet, she needs to wear her leotard and appropriate attire.
And if she’s outside running around and getting dirty, she needs to be aware that her favorite outfit could get stained, and that an outfit she cares less about might make more sense, but it’s her call- her consequences to deal with if something happens to it.
She has to dress for the weather appropriately. She has to dress for what she’s doing.
Dresses don’t always make sense to run around and play in, but she can add shorts to make them appropriate. A dress doesn’t fit under a snow bib very easily, so it doesn’t work and doesn’t make sense.
We talk her through each scenario in these younger years and help her find an outfit that makes sense. But other than that, EVEN ON PICTURE DAY, she picks her own outfits. She works to make sure it makes sense. And if it matches or doesn’t, that part doesn’t matter.
Her outfits make me smile because she picked them. She loves her outfit and I love looking back at the pictures remembering her fun style.
What we do to prepare for picture day:
I have our daughter pick out her outfit at the beginning of the week, right after I’ve done laundry.
This way, her favorite outfit is clean and set aside for picture day.
Come picture day, there are no arguments, no tears shed, no issues- just our daughter smiling and wearing the clothing of her choice.