How to Dress a Toddler in 30 Easy Steps

Do you have a toddler? Do you attempt to convince him or her to wear clothing every day? Have you found this process time-consuming and dangerous? Are you looking for strategies to make your morning routine go a little more smoothly? Then you’ll find my 30-step method for dressing my feisty and opinionated toddler completely useless.

How to dress a toddler in 30 easy steps. Make your morning routine easier by abandoning all hope | Parenting Humor

How to Dress a Toddler in 30 Easy Steps

Step 1: Compose yourself before entering the toddler’s room. If you go in expecting a fight, there will be a fight.

Step 2: Resolve that there will not be a fight.

Step 3: Greet the toddler with a friendly and casual demeanor—remember, she can smell fear.

Step 4: After removing the little one from her crib, prepare to dress her in the clothes she “helped” you pick out the night before.

Step 5: Stand your ground when she refuses to wear the clothes. Ignore signs that a tantrum is imminent.

Step 6: Ask her nicely, but firmly to wear the clothes. Remind her that she chose these clothes. Realize she does not care about the protocol that exists in the adult world about wearing the clothes you picked out the previous night.

Step 7: Prepare for a full-on tantrum.

Step 8: Realize you’re running late.

Step 9: Attempt to restrain a kicking and screaming toddler with one hand while pulling on her pants with the other.

Step 10: Get kicked in the face.

Step 11: Retreat.

Step 12: Reason with yourself that toddlers like choices. If you give the toddler a choice, she’ll feel empowered to make a decision.

Step 13: Attempt to silence the voice inside your head that laughing hysterically at likelihood of Step 12.

Step 14: Pick two perfectly acceptable shirts and let her decide which once she wants to wear.

Step 15: Breath deeply when she refuses both options.

Step 16: Go through the toddler’s entire wardrobe attempting to get her to pick something.

Step 17: Breath deeply when she refuses all options.

Step 18: Stare hopelessly at the pile of clothes you’ll have to clean up later.

Step 19: Ask the toddler what she wants to wear.

Step 20: Attempt to not lose it when she responds, “Wanna watch Caillou.”

Step 21: Remind yourself that you’re the adult, and the toddler is going to do what you say.

Step 22: Laugh/cry when you realize how insane this sounds.

Step 23: Ask again: What do you want to wear today?

Step 24: Breath deeply when she points to the Minnie Mouse t-shirt and penguin pajama pants that she slept in. Restrain yourself when she indicates that she wants to wear an Elsa tank top over this getup.

Step 25: Retreat. Regroup. Prepare for war.

Step 26: Beg her to wear something that she hasn’t slept in for three nights instead.

Step 27: Accept that the toddler isn’t going to budge.

Step 28: Admit defeat.

Step 29: Allow her to go to daycare/a playdate/music class/the zoo in her pajamas… again… this week.

Step 30: Pray that she’ll agree to put on shoes.

Toddler To-do List: Fall Wrap Up

Fall doesn’t technically end until December 20, but our toddler to-do list included mostly seasonal activities. So now that we’ve officially kicked off the holidays, it’s probably time to revisit our list.

Time flies when you’re having toddler fun, amirite?


Go to a football game. We took Emme to a Northwestern football game in early September. Here Emme is enjoying a snack in the stands and sporting her new hat. That’s my husband’s leg. He’s a runner.

Check out a local fall festival. Again, we crossed this one off the list early and attended Oktoberfest in Berwyn. But it rained on and off, so we cut our time at the festival short. We talked about going to another one, but never did.

Visit a farm with animals and a pumpkin patch. Did I mentioned how much I loved the Green Meadows Farm in Wisconsin?


Go on a hayride. Done.


Splash at an indoor water park. We basically had the waterpark at Timber Ridge Lodge in Lake Geneva to ourselves. And we’ve already booked our trip for next year.


Decorate a pumpkin. We did this. I don’t have evidence of it.

Go to the zoo. We did end up going to Boo at the Zoo at Brookfield Zoo, but it was not a great day for the toddler, and we didn’t stay long. Maybe we’ll try again next year.

Dress up for Halloween and trick-or-treat. Yep. And yep.


Have a dance party or two. Sometime in October, Emme became obsessed with Taylor Swift. We listened (and danced to) Shake it Off about 10 times a night for a week. What I learned is that I do not hate Taylor Swift.

Explore a new playground. We did actually make it to a new playground for a playdate in Western Springs.

Take fall photos. Nope. Not this year. At least nothing fancy.

Visit an art museum. Turns out you can take a toddler to the Art Institute of Chicago.

still life

Visit a children’s museum. We took Emme to Kohl Children’s Museum in Glenview.


Learn about Thanksgiving. With Gena’s help and my mom’s book selections, we crossed this one off the list, though I’m not sure she “got it.” She told me “Happy Birthday” on Thanksgiving. Close enough.

Keep Your Young Child Happy and Occupied on Thanksgiving

By Gena Kittner

For many, Thanksgiving is spent rushing across town, gulping down multiple turkey dinners, and indulging in various varieties of pie.

Not at our house. My husband, daughter, and I stay pleasantly house-bound at Thanksgiving in order to have more time to travel at Christmas.

We’ve done it this way for more than a decade and love it.

While staying close to home has its benefits (stuffing the turkey in your PJs, refilling your wine glass knowing you have no where to go), an entire day spent turkey basting and football watching isn’t overly appealing to my 3-year-old.

Activities to Keep Your Toddler or Preschooler Busy on Thanksgiving Day

So, if anyone finds themselves in the same Thanksgiving boat, here are some activities we plan to try this year to keep the kiddo happy and the adults more or less relaxed:

Enlist child labor
My husband is the primary chef of our Thanksgiving feast. It’s everyone else’s job to stay out of the way (and, eventually, do dishes). But there are a few areas where Ellie can help and stay momentarily busy. Last year she poured broth into the stuffing mix. This year she might move up to bread ripping and potato mashing.

Daddy keeps an eye on our little Thanksgiving chef.

Plan a craft
It’s hard to go wrong with the handprint turkey. Kids trace their hands on brown construction paper and color the fingers for feathers. Last year we made one for each guest and used them as table setting name tags. This year we might make a turkey using a stuffed brown paper lunch sacks or start a construction paper Christmas garland. The craft ideas are endless. Check out Pinterest for inspiration.

Get some fresh air
I know it’s easy for me to suggest this living in balmy Tucson, Ariz., but taking a quick walk, stroller ride or playing a game of tag or hide and seek is a nice way to break up the day and maybe prime the kids for a nap (always my goal).

Put in some FaceTime
Even if we can’t be with the people we love doesn’t mean we can’t say hi. Ellie loves showing her cousins all her toys via FaceTime or Skype and saying hi to Grandma’s puppies. Doing this on Thanksgiving has the extra benefit of saying hello to some extended family who might also be around.

Write or draw a menu
If your child is old enough, have him or her write out everything in your family’s Thanksgiving dinner. If your kiddo can’t yet write, have them draw pictures of turkeys, potatoes and cranberries. After dinner they can put a star by what they liked best (umm pie?). Write a date on the back and keep it from year-to-year.

Try something new
Even though Christmas is just around the corner, surprise your child or children with a new toy or game, such as a puzzle everyone can work on or a toy with some assembly required. Just make sure it’s easy enough for adults to do while simultaneously cheering on their team.

Gena is a Midwest transplant living in TucsoGena Kittnern, Arizona with her husband and 3-year-old daughter, Ellie. When not killing scorpions, Gena writes about food and family. Follow her on Twitter @genakittner, and check out her previous guest posts on Mommy Sanest.

Gone Blogging: Guest Post on {kidlist}

You can find me over at {kidlist}. If you’re not familiar with {kidlist}, it’s a fantastic resource for parents in the Chicago western suburbs. Check out my post (and photos of my daughter): True Toddler Life: I Took a Toddler to the Art Institute of Chicago.

A Visit to Green Meadows Petting Farm

Back in July, I stumbled across an article on Red Tricycle Chicago that highlighted Chicago-area farms offering family friendly activities. Ever since our outing to Garden Patch Farms in June, I’ve been wanting to take Emme to another farm. The petting zoo aspect of Green Meadows Petting Farm caught my attention, and I became mildly obsessed taking Emme to this Wisconsin farm.

But I needed an excuse to make the trip.
A Visit to Green Meadows Petting Farm in East Troy, Wisconsin. Add this petting farm to your list of must-do activities with toddlers in Chicagoland. Only 90 miles from the Chicago area.

Luckily, my husband had a conference last week in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin where he would be staying at Timber Ridge Resort, which features an indoor water park. It was the perfect excuse for a mini-family vacation.

Lake Geneva is less than 90 miles from our home in the western suburbs of Chicago — incredibly easy to get to — and Green Meadows Petting Farm was about 20 miles from our hotel in East Troy, Wisconsin. It was the perfect day trip for Emme and I while Daddy spent the afternoon in meetings.

Welcome to Green Meadow Petting Farm |

The entrance to Green Meadows Petting Farm farm is a bit unassuming, but beyond this yellow building, the grounds blew me away. For $13.50 each (children under 1 are free), Emme and I had access to more activities and animals than I expected. Admission to Green Meadows Petting Farm also included a hayride, a pony ride, and a pumpkin picked from the farm’s pumpkin patch.

Green Meadows Petting Farms|

We lucked out with perfect weather: blue skies, sunshine, and temperatures in the mid-70s temperatures. We took advantage of the picturesque day and spent hours exploring.

Green Meadow Petting Farm | www.mommysanest.comFrom a fleet of Cozy Coups to a variety of bikes, a small merry-go-round, and a learning center with a train set, there was so much to keep Emme busy at Green Meadows Petting Farm that she could have easily played for an hour or more without even bothering with the animals.

Goats at Green Meadow Petting Farm |

I did eventually convince her to move on from the toys so that we could check out the animals.

Green Meadows Petting Farms |

Despite what it looks like, no kittens were harmed in the making of these memories.

We didn’t even go to every pen, but we did manage to get up close and personal with goats, kittens, and chickens. From afar we saw horses, a Texas longhorn, and pigs. Feeding the animals was definitely one of Emme’s favorite parts of the day.

Chicken at Green Meadows Petting Farm |

Playground at Green Meadow Petting Farm |

We wrapped up our visit to Green Meadows Petting Farm on the playground, picked out a pumpkin, and took a pony ride (included with admission). At that point, I was too tired to wait for the next hayride, which runs roughly once an hour.

Pumpkin Patch at Green Meadow Petting Farm |

“It’s heavy, Mommy.”

Pony Ride at Green Meadow Petting Farm |

There was more to do at Green Meadows Petting Farm than I ever expected, and I’m so glad we drove the 30 minutes from Lake Geneva to visit it. We stayed almost three hours and probably could have stuck around longer. Emme loved it, and I’m hoping we’ll have the opportunity to come back.

If You Go To Green Meadows Petting Farm

  • Bring quarters for animal feed. Emme loved feeding the animals, and I had fun feeding the goats and chickens too.
  • Consider packing a picnic lunch. There’s plenty of seating where you can have lunch. Green Meadows Petting Farm does have some food you can buy. I ended up getting Emme baked Cheetos because I’m campaigning hard for that “Mother of the Year” award. I bought myself a cookie because that’s the award for “Mother of the Year.”
  • Plan to spend a few hours. Like I said, there’s a ton to see and do.
  • Go on a weekday if you can. I cannot imagine how busy this place gets on the weekends, especially in the fall when farms visits are on everyone’s to-do lists. There were other people at the farm, but it was completely manageable and there were few lines to deal with.
  • Check the schedule. In the spring and summer, the farm is closed on Mondays. It’s open seven days a week in the fall from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Admission to the farm ends at 2 p.m.
  • Call ahead if you have a group. There are details on the website about making reservations if you’re planning to come with a group of 20 or more.