Toddlers move at their own painfully slow pace, and mine is no different. She rarely displays a sense of urgency and, no matter how excited she is to get to preschool or the park, she lallygags her way through the morning with a blatant disregard for punctuality. So when she finally started to display an interest in getting herself dressed rather than having us wrestle her into some clothes, I became hellbent on making sure we didn’t lose yet another hour to our morning routine. In an effort to speed things along, I turned dressing into a game ⏤ specifically, the ‘Get Dressed Hide-And-Seek’ Game.
Just as one would assume from the name, the game combines getting dressed with hide-and-seek ⏤ and it was an instant hit. The premise is simple, put your clothes on as fast as you can and then come find mom and dad, who are hiding somewhere in the house. It makes total sense to a toddler: The faster I can complete this task I don’t want to do, the quicker I can get back to having fun. We’ve been playing the game for over a year now and while, sure, there are some mornings where she’d rather us help put her pants on, it remains as fresh today as when we started.
Which is nice, because the benefits are many: Not only does it add excitement to getting dressed while speeding up the process, but it also teaches self-reliance, motor skills, and provides practice with decision-making since we sometimes let her choose her clothes. Best of all, it offers parents a few minutes of quiet time to pour a cup of coffee or make their lunch before work.
Prep Time: None
Entertainment Time: 10 minutes
Energy Expended by Child: Minimal
What You Need:
- Your kid’s clothes for the day.
- A good hiding spot.
How to Set Up:
Depending on the age of your child, set-up can involve either one or two steps. If they’re younger and still aren’t making their own fashion decisions, select your toddler’s clothes for the day, from socks to sweatshirt, and lay them out on their bed or floor. Then herd them back into their room from wherever in the house they’re eating breakfast or playing or not getting ready for daycare or preschool. If they’re old enough to rummage through the dresser to pick their outfit ⏤ clothes that you’re comfortable letting them wear out of the house in ⏤ simply escort them to their room.
How to Play:
If you know how to let your kid get dressed, and you know how to play hide-and-seek, then you know how to play ‘Get Dressed Hide-and-Seek.’ After selecting your toddler’s clothes for the day, bring the child into the room and inform them that you’re going to hide somewhere in the house. It’s their job to put the clothes on as fast as possible and find you. Then close the door and run away to enjoy a few glorious minutes of peace. It’s that simple.
Most of the time, that is. If you have a younger child who still struggles to pull their shirt completely over their head, or pants all the way up, it’s best to hide close by and listen for those angry yells of frustration. When I hear my daughter wrestling with her head in the armhole, I generally pop in to ask if she wants help. Sometimes she concedes defeat while other times she admonishes me for even asking. Either way, on the occasions where I help, we’ve added a more traditional component to the game: counting. I again leave the room and close the door so she can finish dressing, but this time she has to count to five before coming out ⏤ just to afford me enough time to re-hide, often on the floor behind the kitchen counter with a cup of coffee in hand.
Note: it easy to get caught up doing something around the house while they’re getting dress and forget to hide. This can lead to great disappointment if they come out while you’re still doing dishes and don’t be surprised if they yell:“You were supposed to be hiding!” One way my wife and I found to combat this ⏤ as it tends to zap her interest in the game ⏤ is to have her yell that she’s coming out before opening the door, which gives us a split second to duck into a closet. Usually, we both hide and after one parent is found, we look for the other together.
Also, as my daughter’s gotten older ⏤ she’s now a little over 3-years-old ⏤ we started letting her pick her own clothes on some days, which adds a few extra minutes of fun to the game and creates an element of surprise when she comes barreling out of her room to find us. What’s she going to be wearing that day? It’s always fun to see, although sometimes does require an outfit change, which adds another round to the game. On mornings where we’re ahead of schedule, we’ve also taken to playing at least two rounds of the game: one in which she puts on her underwear, shirt, and shorts/pants, and another for just her socks.
Anything a parent can do to light a fire under a kid in the morning and cut a few minutes off the routine is huge. The ‘Get Dressed Hide & Seek game’ does just that. It gamifies the chore of choosing clothes and getting dressed and offers kids an exciting reason to want to do what you need them to do, that is, get a move on. And if the house gets quiet for a few minutes and you can watch a full segment on the morning news, well then all the better.