Does seeing kids in perfectly clean clothes at the end of the day make you wonder if they ever get to play?

Tracey - posted on 10/12/2011 ( 40 moms have responded )

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This is something I've noticed over the years.

I homeschool my kids and always have. They're now 15, 12 and 6. When the older two were little, they were usually clean when I went out (and now always are). But sometimes, when they were little, I'd have to run a last-minute errand at the end of the day. They'd be playing in the sandbox or up a tree, and I'd have to just hustle everybody in the car and go. I didn't have time to put them in perfect clothes or clean them up. Now that they're older, this is no longer the case.

So I'd get to the store about the same time as the moms who were picking their kids up from daycare, preschool or school. Their kids would be in white, scuffless sneakers and neat, unstained clothes with their hair in perfect order. My kids might have grass stains on their knees, mud dried on their shoes, and leaves in their hair. I could just feel their moms' noses tilt upwards.

But I could feel mine going upwards, too: are these real kids or were they kept on a shelf all day? How could they be really playing and stay that spotless?

Does it bother you that kids don't seem to have opportunities to get out and be kids and explore and get messy? Do you see messy kids in public and assume they're from a trailer park, or do you think "those are real kids who just had a real day"?

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~♥Little Miss - posted on 10/12/2011

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My kid should not have to be dirty to prove to the public eye that he plays. I think that is a ridiculous thought.

Sal - posted on 10/13/2011

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im like you april, the kids go through numeous changes and all i seem to do is wash but i guess thats my choice happy and dirty or bored and clean.....i don't know how they get so messy sometimes, they can be changed sitting quietly before we leave, i go to the loo and hey presto they are filthy again...grrrr

~♥Little Miss - posted on 10/12/2011

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Nope. My son is a kid who does not like to be dirty. This does not mean he does not play, we just often would change his cloths. You are not their parents, and have no idea what they are doing. It would be the same as judging a kid that is filthy, and saying the parents don't take care of them.

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[deleted account]

My neighbours kid is 5 now and she is so spotless.I have seen her dirty after being out.The thing there is mom is a super clean freak.That's why shes always so clean etc.Once in a while she breaks free and jumps in the mud etc but mom just loves to keep her clean.She(mom) goes mad if she scuffs shoes etc.I told her allow her out in older stuff and it won't matter.Shes dressed in the best to play on the street and then its all taken off and in the wash as soon as shes in doors..that includes shoes being washed.

Most of the time the child is so carful not to get dirty while playing as i have heard her mom giving out to her.

Tracey - posted on 10/14/2011

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My littlest in particular is a dirt magnet. And her hair is silky and slightly curly, and tangles very easily.

I kid you not, on more than one occasion I've put her in clean clothes and made sure she looked good, and then popped into the shower quickly to find her covered with something. She's now 6, and she just did this recently. I put her in a nice white blouse with a pink shrug over it and a pair of nice pants, and when I got out of the shower, she'd gotten some kind of brown powder all over it (found out later it was hot chocolate mix). I work 3 jobs and the kids are in all kinds of activities, and I simply didn't have time to find another matching outfit for her, so out the door we went. I was embarrassed everywhere we stopped! I asked her "Why don't you want to keep yourself clean?" and she said to me "Why should I want to?" My other two always wanted to be clean. This one doesn't. Drives me nuts.

Sylvia - posted on 10/14/2011

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Well, my particular kid always came home from daycare all filthy LOL. So did a lot of her friends, but then there would always be a few kids who had the same opportunities to get dirty but for whatever reason just didn't.

I think some kids enjoy getting dirty, some don't mind it because they're having fun, and some just do. not. like. it. So I try not to make assumptions. But there's one little girl who (with her mom) rides the same bus I do, and she's always perfectly groomed with perfectly spotless clothes -- even her snowsuit is always spotless! -- and I confess I do wonder, because I honestly don't understand how any child could possibly stay that clean. Especially in winter in Toronto -- I feel like I get filthy the second I step out the door. But maybe her mom is just WAY better at laundry than I am...

[deleted account]

Would not assume they did not get to play.I was a very clean kid but i climbed trees and then couldn't get down lol.

I went on bike rides with mates.I got up to lots as a kid.I was not dirty but i had lots of bruises or scratches from climbing trees, bike, walls etc.

My oldest is just like me up to all sorts.But remains quite clean.

Merry - posted on 10/14/2011

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Erics usually quite clean. Hes never played in mud or dirt or even gotten sand all over. He never gets grass stains.
If he's outside the dirtiest he gets is his hands and knees.
Inside he gets food on his clothes sometimes, paint or pen sometimes. That's about it.
He doesn't like being dirty so he uses wipes and towels alot.
I never change his clothes unless absolutely necessary because I hate wasting money on laundry so I usually wet wipe his clothes if possible.
Ove never judged kids based on normal kid messiness but if they're really dirty I will take otice and wonder if their mom even cares about their upkeep.
Too clean has never been judged in my mind I'd assume the kid Is like Eric and likes being clean, or the mom changes clothes often.
I usually am just smiling away to see any adorable kid, clean or dirty :)

Shana - posted on 10/14/2011

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No I wouldnt assume that they dont get to play, because my 2nd son is such a neat freak! Even from very little he wouldnt (and still wont) eat ice cream as its "too messy", he only eats certain lollies (mainly ones that dont melt) and seems to be the only one of my 4boys that can emerge from a sand pit and manage to remove every grain of sand. Hes such naturally very worried about being clean. My 3rd son, we often laugh that he must absorb his food as he tend to wear just as much as he eats...he is the splattered kids always...hes not purposly messy hes naturally very clumsy - he will bump into furntiure that hasnt moved in his life time...

April - posted on 10/13/2011

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I never really thought about it because I change my son's clothes about 3 times a day! He is the messiest kid I know. Even if we're staying home all day, I still change his clothes often. He is 2 years old and loves dirt, sand, paint, and getting things out of the refrigerator himself! I started changing his clothes a lot as an infant because he HATED bibs! Just sort of continued on with the tradition, LOL!

[deleted account]

The only thing I usually do before heading out is wipe the kids hands and face with a wipe. As long as a kids face is cleanish then I think nothing of it. It's when I see kids that look like they haven't had a shower in a week that I think any different but then again what do I know they could just like eating th mud like my 1yr old and the mum mightn't have had time to clean the kids face.

Sal - posted on 10/13/2011

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please note....children that get grubby each day or pop out in dirty gear at the end of the day is vastly different to chidren that never get clean clothes or bathed....

Sal - posted on 10/13/2011

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i had this conversation just yesterday when i arrived at a freinds to be greeted by her 2 year old covered head to toe in mud and the biggest smile ever....happy happy muddy boy,i cant remember a day in my childrens lives ( my son is 16) where a bath has been a waste of water and yes i know some kids are always clean and neat....i've just never known one who was happy about it.....

[deleted account]

My son never comes home from school clean and his shoes always have scuff marks on them. I let him get messy. I let him step in puddles (not the HUGE ones) even if we're getting ready to walk into a store. I let him play in mud and put dirt in his hair. He's a kid and I want him to enjoy it. He'll have the rest of his life to worry about impressing people. As far as other people's kids? I don't care one way or another if other people's kids are clean or dirty and I wouldn't even begin to judge either way. Some kids prefer to be clean and some are messy like mine.

[deleted account]

My kid is a neat freak...lol! Yes, she plays outside and we do arts and crafts like crazy around here. But if she gets dirt on her hands or pants, she HAS to clean. She also likes to match. I know that's probably not typical of kids. She's very particular about things.

Krista - posted on 10/13/2011

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I don't judge either way, unless the kid is seriously unkempt and neglected-looking. If it's just normal kid mess, then I think nothing of it. My kid isn't really one for getting dirty, but he has sported a full beard of peanut butter on more than one occasion. You wash it off, but there have been plenty of times that I've missed a spot. Big deal.

Now, if I saw a kid at a playground who was spotless, and the parent kept chiding them to not get dirty, then I'd feel sorry for the kid. But just seeing them out and about? For all I know, they'd just had a bath and changed before heading out.

Ez - posted on 10/12/2011

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When I pick my 2.5yo daughter up from daycare she looks like a total mess. No shoes, hair all over the place (and the teachers typically have already redone it several times), paint on her shirt, dirt on her knees. She looks like a kid who has been playing hard all day. It doesn't bother me in the slightest.. I take it to mean she has had a good day! And that's why I don't send her in good clothes.



There are some parents at this daycare who insist their kids be cleaned up and changed before pick up. I personally think that's a little extreme. But whatever.. not my kid, not my problem.



Do I care what other people's kids look like at the end of the day? No not really. Though my Mum and her sister still take the piss out of their brother (my Uncle) because he used to come home from school with his long white socks still pulled up and shirt still tucked in lol.



ETA: If we have been at home and have the opportunity to change clothes and tidy up before going out, of course I do.

Johnny - posted on 10/12/2011

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That's cute Joanna. I will hope for that for my future. Faces and hands are easily wiped. It's hard to clean clothes while out and about. Mine is only 3, but I am kind of hoping she hits a "clean freak" phrase sometime. Probably because I'm a clean freak, lol.

Firebird - posted on 10/12/2011

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My 6 year old daughter hates getting her clothes dirty. Her shoes are a bit dirty, hands, face... any bit of skin, no problem, but never her clothes. So I don't usually make assumptions about other people's kids.

Brittany - posted on 10/12/2011

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Caoleb goes to public school and EVERYDAY he comes home filthy from head to toe. His socks are dirty, i have clean his nails every night, he has dirt on his pants and shirts. I no longer allow him to wear white shirts to school.

Then again he is a little boy.

[deleted account]

I don't pay much attention to whether or not the kids around me are a mess or not.... including my own. ;)

Medic - posted on 10/12/2011

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My kids are always clean in public, end of story. My son is in kinder and goes to gymnastics right after so when I pick him up he is sweaty but his clothes are clean. My 23 month old goes to an in home daycare and her provider will shower, clean up, wash clothes through-out the day so when I pick her up she is clean. Even If I have to run out last min I throw clean clothes on and pass out baby wipes.

September - posted on 10/12/2011

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Um no. Our son is rarely dirty and plays all day long. Inside and outside. He hates being dirty and will ask to change his clothes if he gets them dirty or wet. Our son is allowed to get as messy as he want's he just want's a fresh pair of clothing when he's done. Not a big deal.

Stifler's - posted on 10/12/2011

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And half the time my son has drawn on himself with pen and it doesn't come off when I try to clean him up to go down the street.

Stifler's - posted on 10/12/2011

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Yeah no everyone around here I see at the park their kid has bare feet, chocolate on their face and water spilled down their front. Let kids be kid. I don't assume they're from a trailer park, mainly because of the $80 000 car they just got out of.

Kimberly - posted on 10/12/2011

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My daughter will be two next month and for the most part I can say she has been seen in public very clean. Yes she plays outside for most of the day with her sandpit,dirt,water,mulch,etc but for me if I do have to run out quickly I make a quick lookover of her clothes, if there too bad they get changed and I always have wipes in the car to give the hands and face a wipe. This is just how I want my daughter seen and by no means am I going to judge other peoples kids on how clean/dirty=fun/nofun My daughter will get usually two showers a day but thats simply because we live by the beach and we go down most morning so when we get home I do like her to wash all the sand and sunscreen off before sleeps. She is very happy to play in the mud,dirt,rocks but will also get me to wipe her hands. You can tell the difference between a kid who is dirty from fun and a kid who is dirty from lack of care, that I dont like seeing because I dont like seeing kids not being looked after properly. Kids will be kids and some get dirty some dont but I think at the end of the day as mothers we should accept each others parenting choices rather then judge them, lifes too short for that

Janice - posted on 10/12/2011

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I typically think the latter - messy = fun. I worked at a daycare and it used to drive us crazy when parents were upset about their child getting messy. Kids get dirty no big deal. Like others have said some get dirtier than others too, so a clean kid doesn't always mean they dont play either.

What is funny about this topic is that I fear the opinions of others enough to constantly worry about my own daughter being dirty in public. Like if we are going out in the am my daughter (23mo.) is in her diaper until the last minute. I dont want her to spill on her clothes before we have even left the house. But if she does get dirty I dont freak out (well, only in my head, lol).

Mary - posted on 10/12/2011

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I should also add that I've never have anyone give me a "look" if we go out and are painted, glittered, dirt-spattered mess. I have had a few moms wistfully say to me, "Oh, I remember those days when my kids were little! Enjoy it while it lasts!".

Johnny - posted on 10/12/2011

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Kids too clean? I wish I had THAT problem. My daughter goes to daycare, and by the time I pick her up at the end of the day, she's usually in different clothes than I sent her in because the first set got too dirty. They play outside for about 2 1/2 hours a day, no matter what the weather. She usually has paint in her hair, glitter in her ear, sand in her pockets or her underwear (ouch!). If I need to run to the store after picking her up, I try to sponge her off in the washroom before we go and put her in a clean jacket. I feel like I am dragging a dust devil through the grocery store. When she was at home, I could change her and wash her more when we went out, so she's always look sort of tidy and be in clean clothes.

Denikka - posted on 10/12/2011

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I think it depends on how often I see the other kids or how well I know the parents.
My son is 2.5yrs (daughter is 8.5 mo but not really into messy play yet :P) and out in public, he's usually pretty clean. Maybe not spotless, but his clothes are clean and his face and hands have been washed, etc.
Now, take off his shirt and you'll see a different picture XD He likes to tummy paint with his markers XD Just about never gets any on his face or hands, but his tummy and legs are generally COVERED. Just stuff that wouldn't normally be seen.
Not only that, but he's usually running around in just a diaper (total nudey boy XD) and when we go out, he gets thrown into clean clothes out of the closet. So when we leave the house, he's usually spotless :P

Now, I do know a lot of parents who are total germ/dirtaphobes. And that makes me sad. There's a difference between a child who's naturally neat or doesn't like to get dirty and a child who's not allowed to get dirty. Dirt is FUN and I'm trying to teach my son that XD he's gotten mad at me a couple times now because I'll take some mud and paint on him XD Tribal markings FTW :P I'm sure he'll come around though XD he's only mad cause mud's not colorful enough :P

So at a glance, no. I don't really judge a kids cleanliness (unless it's something like bad hygiene, then it's just kinda an *eww* reaction) I only really judge if I know the kid and/or the parents and know WHY the kid is clean or not.

Amie - posted on 10/12/2011

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Uh no I don't think that. (that they never get to play) I also know my children - they play on our back 40 acres all the time. They come home from school, change their clothes - do their homework and head outside. Whether it be walking through the bush, chasing the dogs or going for quad rides - they are outside and playing hard.



I refuse to take them in public messy. Untidy is fine, messy is not. To me a messy child shows a parent who lacks the foresight to take those 5 minutes to change their clothes and wipe their face. In many cases it takes less than that for me and I have 4 kids.



I know that sounds a lot more harsh than I mean it to but I'm in a hurry here. I'm heading outside myself with our two youngest and I can hear my husband coming down the stairs with them now. =)

[deleted account]

Some kids are messier then others. My son goes to daycare and they play outside everyday (weather permitting). He comes home with sand and mulch in his shoes and dirt on his pants. Sometimes his shirt has food, paint and marker stains where as other kids are perfectly clean and they participated in the same activities he did!



Edit: I do know some kids who are not allowed to play outside. It more has to do with the fact their parents are neat freaks and can't handle the extra dirt. it makes me sad because kids need to get out and exercise and get fresh air. My mother in-law is like that. When my son goes over to visit he has to play inside. My mother in-law also doesn't like bugs which is another reason she won't take him outside. Sometimes she will sit on the porch and blow bubbles with him but he can't go further then 5' feet away.

Lady - posted on 10/12/2011

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Two of my kids are allways messy two of my kids are alway clean - it's just their personalities - my youngest daughter can paint, play in the sand and the mud and still be spotless - my oldest daughter can walk across the garden and be filthy - so I tend not to judge evry child and family is different!

Mary - posted on 10/12/2011

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By late afternoon/evening, Molly is a walking advertisement of all the fun things we did during the day. This is especially true of her hair - it's rather long, and if I don't put it up, there are always splotches of paint, dirt, leaves, chalk dust, and perhaps some peanut butter in there as well. My husband can almost guess what we got up to during the day just by looking at her.

The truth is, I honestly don't care too much what either of us looks like at Target or the grocery store. I say this, because if she is a mess, then I generally am as well. She's not yet 3, so anything she's doing, I'm right along side her. There have been days on end when my fingers are stained with food coloring, or I've run out to the store with foamy paint splattered in my bangs. I typically don't even notice, unless someone points it out. We wash our hands a million times a day, but the big hose-down doesn't happen until bedtime.

She's in preschool now two days a week, and I have to admit that despite all of the painting and other fun projects they do, she is rarely stained or messed-up when I collect her. I'm pretty amazed at that. I know that they all wear smocks when they do any messy crafts, and somehow, her saint of teacher gets her to wear it the whole time. I tried twice to get her to do it at home, and it just wasn't worth the hassle. Hell, even on the days her hair is down, she doesn't get anything like glue, playdoh, or glitter in it there. When she's at home, you would think I used these things as styling agents.

My sister did a lot of messy play with her kids when they were younger, but she also changed their clothes about 50 times a day. My niece loved this, since she was one of those kids Kate brought up, who hates being messy. My daughter hates changing her clothes, and could give two craps about whether or not she is covered in sidewalk chalk. I'm good with that, since changing her outfits multiple times would just mean more laundry for me.

Sherri - posted on 10/12/2011

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Nope it makes me think they are good parents that care about their children's appearance in public.

I NEVER brought my kids in public dirty EVER. Even if it was a 2 second errand I threw them in the tub gave them a 2 second wash down and changed their clothing.

Also my son is in Kindergarten 5 days a week has snack, art, gym and recess and still comes home 100% spotless everyday. They are out quite a bit and are certainly kids.

Lady Heather - posted on 10/12/2011

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I'd say it's pretty rare that my kid is out shopping in grass stained or muddy clothes. That's a little strange to make the assumption that they don't play because they are clean. I keep play clothes for her and just strip them off when she comes in. I've never had a situation where I've just had to dash off with a messy kid. Considering I generally have a long wait for the bus, there aren't a lot of last minute shopping trips. My kid is also extraordinarily tidy. She's always been that way. Even as a baby she could eat a bowl of spaghetti and not get any on her. So even when she's out making mudpies, she doesn't always get very muddy. Sometimes she just runs around the backyard and comes in looking the same as when she went out. All kids have different styles of play. I'm not going to make her jump in puddles just for appearances sake. Ha.

Becky - posted on 10/12/2011

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I don't generally notice other kids' clothes unless it is really extreme, you know, in front of me in the check-out line and really stinky or something. But I hope other people don't notice that too much either, because my kids usually are in dirty clothes! They're 2 and 3 and are still not the neatest eaters in the world, plus they do like to play outside. If I changed them everytime they used their sleeve as a napkin or spilled a bit of applesauce on themselves, I'd do nothing but laundry! So, we don't go out with them in filty clothes, but yeah, sometimes they do have a bit of leftover food on them.
I don't think I'd think much of it if I saw kids still clean when they were being picked up from school, like Rebecca said, they're probably not playing outside as much as kids who are at home are.

Kate CP - posted on 10/12/2011

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I don't assume that at all because I make my daughter change when she comes home from school. She has to wear a uniform and I don't want it getting even more mucked up. When she comes home she's fairly clean with some food splotches on it here and there occasionally and then she changes.



...THEN the real dirt comes into play. ;)



Edited to add: Some kids really are just clean freaks. :P

My daughter *HATES* getting dirty. I mean she FREAKS OUT when she gets mud on her. I have tried gardening with her, nature walks, mud pies...she just hates dirt. :P

[deleted account]

I don't know that I would assume anything one way or another. I do think many kids that go to daycare don't get to go outside as much as they would if they were at home with a caregiver. And my kids spend, on average, at least 3 hours a day outside. And are generally filthy. In fact, their hands are so tan they look like migrant farmworkers. But there are so many ways to raise kids that I'm not sure if one is better than the other. So I wouldn't say that bothers me, but I also have noticed the noses up in their air from other moms when my kids are dirty.



Edited to add: To me there is a difference between dirty and unkempted -- kids with dirty hair, unbrushed teeth, etc. I do worry about, more from a neglect perspective than anything else. But a kid with grass stains and dirt -- not so much.

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