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Defending My Right to Wear Pajamas to School

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When I have to deal with my daughter's morning routine, "pretty" goes right out the window.

woman in pajamas at school

Jeanne Sager: It takes only 10 minutes to get to my daughter's preschool in the morning. We run in, I help her hang her jacket on the hook, give hugs, high-fives and kisses, and I'm back in my car and headed back home.

Between here and there, I see a maximum of four to five other adults -- including my daughter's teacher, the teacher's assistant, the postmistress (OK, so I make one stop on the way home) and one or two other parents who are dropping their kids off at the same time as me.

In total I am gone 25 minutes. At the most.

Throw in the snow I have to tromp through and the show-and-tell pieces and extra booster seat I have to carry (for the other set of parents on our carpool to use for pick-up), and you'll excuse me for not putting on my Sunday best.

Some days, I don't even get dressed. Oh, I'm wearing clothes. I live in upstate New York -- it's freezing here in the middle of summer. I always wear clothes (just ask my husband).

But I'm the type of mom who would be outside in the cold at a certain British school. Following in the footsteps of a British supermarket that instituted a dress code for moms, officials at the school have just announced a ban on mothers showing up in the drop-off line in their PJs. The Daily Mail quoted one teacher who accused parents of being "slovenly and rude" by showing up in nightwear.

"People don't go to see a solicitor, bank manager or doctor dressed in pajamas, so why do they think it's okay to drop their children off at school dressed like that?" Joe McGuinness asked.

To be honest, Mr. McGuinness, it's because we're generally not spending the sort of time at school drop-off that we are with our bank manager. At school, we pop in and pop out. At the doctor's office (at least here in the states), we might be spending three hours. (Although, come to think of it, when I'm feeling particularly awful, I have worn my PJs to the doctor's office, too.)

And when we go to see the lawyer, Mr. McGuinness, we generally don't take the kids. Which means we have a lot more time to gussy up, and a lot less stuff to worry about on the way.

On preschool days, I climb out of bed in the morning and throw on a pair of (clean) sweats before heading to my daughter's bedroom to start getting her things together for the day. I usually shower at night, so the morning routine for me consists of a vigorous toothbrushing, some mouthwash swishing and putting my contacts in. If I'm feeling especially perky, a quick spritz of my husband's favorite perfume might be added to the routine. (It's also useful on days when I don't get my night shower.)

And then, "me" time is up. The preschooler is awake, and she needs to be encouraged to dress, reminded to put on her winter boots ("Yes, honey, I know rain boots are boots, but no, they don't count"), prodded to brush her own teeth ("No, chewing on the brush doesn't count, either") and urged to swish her mouthwash.

Then it's hair to plait or a clippie jar to sort through, show-and-tell to rescue from the bottom of the toy box, a car to warm up, breakfast to rustle up. Are you getting the picture here? It's called motherhood -- most of you are familiar with it.

Most days I do manage to put on a pair of jeans in exchange for the sweatpants. I've even moved from my husband's oversized sweatshirts to my own slightly less gargantuan ones.

But if you want me to hoist a booster seat out of a road-sand-covered car (remember, upstate New York) every morning in black wool pants, just so I can turn around and drive home and send said pants to the dry cleaner, how about giving me back a chunk of my tuition check? Didn't think so.

next: OMG! He Knocked Out His Tooth!
31 comments so far | Post a comment now
Anonymous March 1, 2010, 7:29 AM

Have you heard of those new denim sweatpants? Those sound perfect for your situation haha! To be honest, I don’t think sweatpants are that bad. Certain types of pajama pants that are obviously pajamas probably won’t fly though. Either way, all that matters is that you take care of what your kids need in the morning - as long as you do that, everyone else can just shut their mouths.

Patti March 1, 2010, 7:57 AM

I’m confused. Your headline talks about wearing PJs, yet your article actually talks about wearing sweats. In my view those are completely different things.

Regardless, I completely understand the challenge of getting out the door. As a full-time working mom who splits my time between working at home and working out of my clients’ offices, I understand the desire to cut out unnecessary steps in the hectic morning. But going out in PJs is just way too much. In my view it completely sends a message to both the children and teachers at the school that they are not worthy of the respect to even get dressed for, that school and teachers are so unimportant that they don’t deserve the effort of the 90 seconds it would take you to put real clothes on.

Just my two cents.


Kari March 1, 2010, 8:29 AM

Are you kidding me? Clothes are clothes. As long as they are not dirty, who is to determine whether my style is appropriate for a certain “venue”? There is absolutely NOTHING disrespectful about wearing sweats or PJ’s to drop you child off a daycare.

If my child’s daycare were closer to my home, then that is exactly what I would do. That would give me the opportunity to go back home and get dressed without having to respond to my kids immediate needs.

People need to relax. My goodness.

Cheryl March 1, 2010, 8:47 AM

You know what? Wake up 10 minutes earlier and get dressed. You don’t have to wear your prom dress, but it is inappropriate to show up anywhere but your bedroom with your pj’s on. Some attire just is not appropriate for everywhere.

Kristy March 1, 2010, 9:35 AM

Wether or not wearing PJs in public is appropriate is besides the point. How is it anyone’s business what another person wears?

True Mom March 1, 2010, 1:41 PM

Here is a thought…do you allow your pre-schooler to go to school in their pjs?? When did the idea of getting dressed become “to much”? As a mother of two, I ASSURE you that getting dressed, even to drop off a child, is a 100% guarantee. Anything other than that would be LAZY!

Mommy to 3 March 1, 2010, 1:48 PM

This is the most pathetic post I have ever read. Shame on you! What are you teaching your child(ren) as far as personal respect and appearance?
Get up earlier and represent yourself, and your family like an ADULT.

Bonnie March 1, 2010, 1:50 PM

So Sad that laziness has become the norm. I do not allow my teenagers to go in public in those colorful pj bottom looking sweatpants, and I certainly would not do that as well. Shame on you for the disrespect you are showing your childrens educators, as well as yourself.

SAH Dad March 1, 2010, 1:54 PM

I would shake my head at any woman or man I saw in a school drop off line in their sleepwear. Workout clothes is where I draw the line. How long does it take to pull a sweater and jeans on? The same amount of time that it takes to pull on sweatpants and a t-shirt.

Your children will be old enough soon to realise that you slept in those clothes, and then what? Will you complain that they are ungrateful because they want you to drop them off around the block?

Get dressed. It really is not that hard.

Mousuke March 1, 2010, 7:31 PM

While you all certainly have the right to wear PJs day in and day out……how hard is it to put on some flattering jeans or a skirt and an attractive shirt? How hard is that, really? Because I do it everyday. I spend no more than five minutes getting dressed and primped everyday (I shower the night before), I have kids to take care of and drop off too, but I don’t see what’s so difficult or time consuming about putting on a nice outfit and wearing your hair down. It doesn’t take any more time to put on a skirt than it does to put on those ratty sweats.

Anonymous March 2, 2010, 5:58 AM

Lazy. Are you not working? If so that’s even worse - you’re staying home, sending your kid off to school and you can’t even bother to pull yourself together? What on earth are you doing all day then? Ug - reminds me of my lazy siblings - never dressed, in sweats all day, sending there kids off to school just to go home and pretend that staying home is a job.

Christine March 2, 2010, 6:13 AM

I think the fact that you are all giving her grief is ridiculous. She has the right to wear anything she wants and to have someone tell her what she can and cant wear is pathetic. I completely agree with her post stating that if she were actually spending time at the school then she would bother but to hop in the car drop the kids off and head back home is another thing. Get off your high horses and find something else to gripe about!

Get real March 2, 2010, 6:52 AM

Christine, did this hit a little to close to home? Lazyness is contagious… so is sloppy.

Jeanie March 2, 2010, 7:01 AM

These are the same moms who allow their children in house slippers to go to the mall. Ridiculous. Mom’s are lowering the bar so much that children are responding by not even trying to step over it. What lesson is there in this? “Do the least you can, but hey that’s good enough.” Good enough rarely is.

Shawna B. March 2, 2010, 9:34 AM

I work. I have kids. One is in preschool. The other is a baby. I completely understand both sides. Two words: trench coat.
Problem solved.

Denise Owens March 2, 2010, 10:34 AM

How embarassed your children will be of their Mommy if they are not already. Grow up and learn how to be a respectable Mother.

c. g. March 2, 2010, 11:43 AM

there is a time and a place for everything under the sun. regular clothing = EVERYWHERE. pajamas = BEDROOM. Note to the adult allowing a child to call the shots: GET A CLUE!

Drab and fabulous March 2, 2010, 12:50 PM

If getting dressed is a problem…how soon before showering falls by the waste side?
It is a slippery slope from unkept to slob. Invest in a few quick go to pieces (yoga pants if ACTUAL pants are to frightening) and then change. If your children were representing themselves this way, you would help them change it to more appropriate behavior, so you should do the same. This is a very bad example you are setting.

A Teaching Mom March 2, 2010, 12:53 PM

We see this every morning, and even sometimes in the afternoon…and let me tell you mom’s out there… We notice. We talk. We raise our eyebrows and shake our heads. It is ridiculous the outfits that some parents find it appropriate to wear, even in the car line. Does this make us judgmental??? Yes. If you don’t like it, GET DRESSED! It makes a horrible impression, one that stays with your child, as well as the staff, all day long.

Angie March 2, 2010, 12:56 PM

Clearly the writer doesn’t care. But I bet she is the first to complain if anyone comments about her outfit.

Either dress appropriately or deal with the disapproving looks…Your choice.

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