Home » Blogs » Childhood Behavioral Concerns » No, I Don’t Care If My Kids Are Dirty, Messy, or Mismatched.

No, I Don’t Care If My Kids Are Dirty, Messy, or Mismatched.

The number of comments I receive in a week about the way my kids are dressed is astronomical. Most of them are sweet, curious questions from people who want to know what led to my daughters ending up in knee-high socks with sandals on a 28-degree day. Or why they’re wearing a tank-top and a winter coat on the same day. Or why they have green face paint on.

Most people are so sweet to them about.

Other people are borderline OCD and are driven nuts by the way my kids look. Ha.

But I think the comment I get the most often is, “Oh, man. Doesn’t that get messy?”

Yep! Sure does. It’s messy for my four-year-old daughter to paint her face every morning before anyone else in the house wakes up. Sometimes she uses markers, sometimes paint, other times her sister’s makeup.

People say, “I think I’d probably hide the markers from her if I were you.”

I could. My husband definitely does when he’s home. But I really don’t want to. As long as she’s not coloring on my walls (which she hasn’t done in a really long time), then I don’t care if she’s coloring on her body. It doesn’t hurt her or anyone else, and I don’t give two craps about her looking presentable in public. I care about her being fed, loved, taught to, and confident.

If she’s happy in knee-high socks and Hulk makeup, then why should we care? We really shouldn’t. She’s not even in school yet so she can’t “distract” anyone.

(Though, I have a bit of a soap box that starts with, “If every child was allowed to paint his/her face, then no one would be distracted by it in class.” But that’s an argument for another day.)

Why should I care if my seven-year-old daughter hasn’t worn matching clothes more than five times this year? I shouldn’t, and neither should anyone else. No one her age is going to make fun of her because they don’t care. And the only reason they care when they get older is because we teach them to care.

They’re just colors. They’re only patterns. There are no rules about which ones can be worn at the same time and which ones can’t. Nothing about what she wears determines who she is, how intelligent she is, or what lies within her heart.

And let me tell you, her heart is incredible. Kids her age notice that about her and they love her for it. Not one kid has cared that she wears brown and black at the same time, or that she wears dress shirts with sweatpants.

No one cares.

But one must ask, shouldn’t I at least care about them being dirty? Shouldn’t I want them to be clean for their own health?

Here’s the thing. My kids each take baths ALMOST every day, which is a significant increase from when they were babies. Their bodies are clean in all the important areas, but they don’t LOOK clean.

And I don’t care.

I don’t care that their hair isn’t brushed or that there’s spaghetti on their cheeks. I don’t care that they have leftover paint on their shirts from three months ago because it won’t wash out. I don’t care that they have holes in the knees of their leggings.

Those things make them look dirty (apparently?), but they do not equate to dirtiness. And even if it did, I’d rather my kid be dirty and kind and happy than clean and rude.

Yes, I know that kids can be neat and clean AND kind, but there’s only so much time in the day. We choose where we put our energy as parents, and the battle of “neatness” is just not a battle I care to waste my time on.

If your kiddos are far from perfect (on the outside) according to the world, then take comfort in the fact that they really don’t need to be.

And if your kiddos ARE perfect on the outside according to the world, then teach them to not only see beyond appearances, but to SEARCH for what’s beyond a person’s appearance.

No, I Don’t Care If My Kids Are Dirty, Messy, or Mismatched.

W. R. Cummings

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APA Reference
Cummings, W. (2019). No, I Don’t Care If My Kids Are Dirty, Messy, or Mismatched.. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 24, 2019, from


Last updated: 14 Jan 2019
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