Viral: Yes, sometimes I dress my kids in tomorrow’s clothes before they go to bed

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When working mother of six, Madeleine West, shared a clever tip she occasionally uses to get a jump-start on tomorrow’s hectic schedule, she never expected to create such a controversy.

Viral: Yes, sometimes I dress my kids in tomorrow’s clothes before they go to bed

You may have heard this statement repeated ad infinitum across social media recently, dissected and redirected, attracting a slew of lovers and haters in its wake.

Well here it is, from the horse’s mouth. A more frank, honest comment from a hard-working mum you would be hard-pressed to find: Occasionally, and let me stress occasionally, when the following day’s schedule is thick with dance concerts and soccer finals, birthday parties and unexpected guests, or I am working and will be called to set at 5am (ouch), I will bathe my kiddies and pop them in tomorrow’s clothes before story time and bed.

Picture: Instagram / Stocksy

I am not talking full school uniforms, I am talking track suits, casual wear, and if it is a school day, the foundations: stockings and T-shirt perhaps. There is no way I would snuggle them up in a pressed shirt and starchy tunic. I spend far too many hours slaving over the ironing board as it is!

So much time spent dressing all those little bodies

On an average morning, it takes me roughly 45 minutes to dress my munchkins. They all still need some degree of assistance, from nappies, to tying shoes, to plaiting hair. On some cold mornings, when a warm, snug bed just won’t let them go, it is quicker for me to dress them all in their entirety than struggle through, nagging them to pull on socks, find their jumper, button their shirt.

When I know I will be absent on such a morning due to work, I feel it is kinder to my kids, and to whomever is generous enough to be caring for them, to ‘partially-dress’ them the night before. Clean clothes, on clean little bodies, and into a clean bed. If there are any little accidents of the type small children are prone to, naturally a full set of fresh clothes (plus linen) is called for. Same applies if they have drooled, snotted, or dribbled any other form of gummy gooeyness on themselves.

I do not send my babes out into the world in the same clothes day after day, unwashed and unloved, despite what many may assert from the safety of their electronic devices.

Mornings with six kids are hectic. Image: supplied

I am not sorry

I do not have anything to apologise for. I am a mum, no better or worse than any other mum, struggling to get by and do right by her kids regardless of what the world throws at her. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, I fully embrace that. Opinions are like bottoms, everyone has one, but some opinions, like bums, are best not trotted out in public. Some opinions come not from a place of belief and integrity, but from a place of anger, fear, and plain old cruelty.

I wrote my book, Six Under Eight, with the earnest intention of prompting discussion about parenthood: The good, the bad, the ugly. I am the first to admit that I am no expert, but as a mum of six, I think I have faced many of the events unique to parenthood. In it I have written an honest account, warts and all, of how I manage to keep my little tribe moving forward, in the hope that it would empower other parents, make them feel good about their choices, let them laugh in the face of overwhelming chaos, and show them that none of us is perfect.

We all make mistakes, that is what makes us human, but if you learn from your mistakes, that makes you a better human, and a truly great parent.

Madeleine West’s book compares parenting her six kids under eight to an extreme sport. Image: supplied

Build us up; don’t tear us down
Online forums have become the equivalent to the villages of old. Social media is our community, providing the support networks so necessary in raising happy, healthy kids. You can criticise my choices, what I wear, what I do. That is your opinion, that is your right. It is no skin off my nose.

But sadly, by tearing down rather than supporting our peers on the crazy rollercoaster that is parenthood, we shutdown all discussion, and cut off honest dialogue, as people will not share their stories for fear of being judged. The most tragic consequence is that there are mums, dads and carers out there who really need advice, really need a shoulder to cry on, really need help, but will never ask in an environment so quick to judge, but slow to empathise.

So listen to your heart, listen to your instincts, and most importantly, listen to your children, and you can’t go wrong. Never be afraid to ask for help: for every Judge Judy, there are 10 Loving Lucys and Compassionate Camerons out there ready and willing to lend a hand.

Parenting is riddled with trials and tribulations, but if you can smile, remembering these little folk were, are, and will always be your babies, inextricably tied to you by blood, love, and all the pitter, splatter, and clatter in between, then you are a good parent.

We are not, and never will be, perfect, but in our children’s eyes we are the most perfectly imperfect parents they could ever wish for. Our little ones wouldn’t have us any other way, and at the end of the day, that is all that matters.

Madeleine West is an actor, a writer and sometimes a comedian, but most importantly, she is a mother to six young children.

How much should your child sleep?

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