Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Why Do We Have to Shop for Winter Clothes in August?

It was 77 degrees out, and I was scouring the internet for snowsuits for my kids. Obtaining inclement-weather apparel for my children was not what I wanted to be thinking about at the end of September, but retailers have dictated that I must. For, if I wait until November again, like I did the first winter I had a child, I'll be screwed.

I'm not the first to say this and it's unlikely that I'll be the last, but please, retailers of America -- align your selling schedules to coincide with the calendar and weather patterns the rest of us live by. I'm sick of looking for bathing suits in February and snowsuits in August. I have empathy for anyone who hasn't purchased their kids Halloween costumes yet, as it's slim-pickings out there, more than a month before the big day. Before I had kids, I found this "season ahead of reality" practice slightly annoying. With kids, it's beyond frustrating. I hate trying to predict shoe and garment sizes months in advance. I hate the panicky feeling, knowing that if their matching Christmas jammies aren't purchased by mid-September, they'll be wearing Valentine's Day or St. Patrick's Day jammies to bed on Christmas Eve. I wish my kids' growth schedules perfectly aligned with whatever bizarro-world retail calendar stores live by, but they don't.

One beef down, one more to go -- Things that shouldn't be gender-specific, but are.

Last year, watching my little guy in his affordable, Stay Puffed Marshmallow Man snowsuit, tumbling and barely able to walk because of his bulk, I vowed to invest in better winter gear the next time around. So, I started pricing things out. Yes, the better snowsuits are close to twice the price of what I'd been paying, but, if I got gender-neutral ones, my daughter could use it, then my son the following year. Snow boots and suits aren't something kids will wear out and are ideal candidates for hand-me-downs.

I explained my theory to my husband, who agreed (although, he probably would have agreed to just about anything, so I'd shut up about snow gear while we were out on our boat on a warm summer's afternoon...). The more I got to looking though, the harder I realized it would be to find gender-neutral snow clothes. I finally found one that, though slightly boyish, would work. I showed it to my husband, telling him it was the only one I'd found that was neither pink nor blue. "They're on to you," he said. "They know you're trying to cheap out and use the same snowsuit twice, so they intentionally make them in only pink or blue."

He's right, of course. As the mother of both a girl and a boy, I've found this to be true so much along the way. Things that have no business being gender-specific are nearly impossible to find in gender-neutral color-palettes. Bikes. For toddlers, there are Princess bikes and Lightning McQueen bikes. Luckily, my daughter likes Cars, so that worked. But, I couldn't help but wonder -- why couldn't there be a plain, yellow bike? Aside from the push to pigeon-hole kids into liking only "girlie" or "boy" things, this is ridiculously (and needlessly) expensive for us parents. A while back, a study came out saying that parents who had two girls were the happiest parents. I've figured out why, they know they're going to get their money's worth out of all those Princess bikes and pink, flowered snowsuits that they have to buy. As a parent who has both a girl and a boy, I beg of you -- please start making things that my kids can share.

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