Chic, picky, and two years old

I'm not the world's most organised person, and laundry is one of my personal demons. If clean clothes make it out of Mount Foldmore on the couch, then they are truly honoured. It's a particularly intense battle at the moment. Vieve has developed a sudden and strong interest in choosing her clothes and dressing herself... six or seven times a day.

When I say "interest", I mean screams of "No. Other! No. Other!" if she's not impressed with the offerings. An attempt to help her get out of the stranglehold she's created by inserting head AND arms into the neckhole will generally cause her to shriek, jump up and down and then throw herself backwards on to the floor. And one can not be seen in the same ensemble twice, darling! Ahh, redheaded two-year-olds.

Her sartorial choices are rather spectacular. I think my favourite was the turquoise tog bottoms worn as a one-shouldered asymmetrical top (head and one arm through one leg hole, arm through another), along with rainbow BabyLegs leg-warmers and a turquoise teddy bear.  Splendid.

She's also been to Playcentre wearing a size 4 Thomas dressing gown and the rainbow leg warmers, but as expected she immediately went to the costumes and dressed first as a chicken, then a zebra (with rainbow legs), and then as a nudist builder (nappy and hardhat).

Unfortunately it was raining and chilly, so I had to insist that the Thomas dressing gown join the builder outfit. Classy.

We're working on getting her to understand temperature-appropriate garb. She's usually quite happy to add things, so cold isn't such an issue, but hot is another story. One stifling hot evening she went to bed in lightweight short summer pajamas. Next time I went in, she was wearing two pairs of the beloved rainbow legwarmers on legs AND arms, a long-sleeved shirt, and had a thick woollen jersey stuck on her head.

She's also become much more sensitive to grubby or wet clothes. Whereas she practically used to bathe in the paint and the waterplay at Playcentre, now a wet sleeve is cause for complaint. I've made it clear that she has a maximum of two changes of clothes per session, and fortunately she seems to accept this rule.

If only it held true at home! It's better now that we've rearranged furniture so that nap-time doesn't mean the entire contents of their wardrobe being strewn across the floor, and they can't access them as freely as before. I don't mind them having some choice, and I certainly don't mind the repetitive doffing and donning that allows her to master the skills, but I do object to washing quite that many clothes! They always seem to get just too dirty to re-use later, even if only worn for 10 minutes.

My eldest son never had any interest in clothes or dressing himself. Vieve's twin brother Finn will express a preference, and will have a go at getting dressed and undressed, but he is nowhere near as picky as she is. How long does this stage usually last? What's your experience?

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