Why I Take All 3 of My Daughters Clothes Shopping With Me, Every Single Time

With three daughters ages 10, 8, and 5, you'd think taking them shopping for clothes would be what nightmares are made of, and you're partially right. Dresses, tops, pants, and accessories are typically flying everywhere, the girls are bickering over who gets to try on what (because they can't match, heaven forbid!), and emotions are running high as my daughters make darn sure things are 100 percent fair, as in, this one doesn't get more than her sisters, and vice versa. But I have learned over the years that powering through this dramatic scene is well worth it, because the number of times I'd need to shop and return things if my girls weren't with me at the store, would amount to a full-time job, and I am not being paid to be a personal shopper!

In the past, I tried picking out outfits for my girls. This approach worked when they were really little, and couldn't fight me on buying three identical sets of everything. But, sigh, they've outgrown this adorable stage, and have developed their own very strong senses of style. My oldest is starting to get into trends, and before my very eyes, now knows more about fashion than I do! "Mom, that's not what my friends are wearing," she'll inform me when I show her a certain look I like at the store. There's an eye roll in there, too, of course. My middle daughter's look is sporty and cute, and although I have an idea of what she'll like, sometimes the outfits she gravitates toward surprise me. My little one is the toughest to shop for, believe it or not. At just 5 years old, she is fiercely opinionated about what she'll wear. So much so, it would not be worth it for me to pick things out for her, since she is likely to flat-out reject my choices.

I've been down the road of excitedly selecting outfits I am convinced each of my daughters will adore, only to get home to show off my purchases and have them ceremoniously picked apart. The girls try to be nice, but I can see they aren't loving their old mom's idea of what would look cute on them. Once in a while, I still get it right, but given that my daughters now care so much about clothes, I insist that they come with me to shop. Not only can they try things on (so I'm not running back and forth to the store for exchanges), but I'm not guessing what they might like. Most importantly, if they pick out their own clothes, they are going to actually wear them. I find that when I do the shopping on my own, sometimes shirts or shorts will sit in their drawers unworn until they no longer fit. And wasting money is the last thing I want to do when I have so many kiddos to clothe (I also have an infant son).

Even if we shop online, the girls are right there with me in front of the computer. Recently, they were attending a daddy-daughter dance and needed dresses. The styles I pulled up for their consideration were apparently nowhere close to what they had in mind. Luckily, when they showed me what they wanted, I saw their vision, and I was happy to add those selections to my cart. It's not that they always get what they want! When I don't care for what the girls pick, like if I feel a certain look is too mature, I'll tell them it isn't happening. I am open to letting my kids shop for their own clothes, but I still get the final say, since it's my money and I'm their mom.

Is it always fun to take my three daughters shopping for clothes? That would be a resounding "no." One of them always ends up crying (Sometimes it's me!) if a desired piece is out of stock in their size, or two of them fall in love with the same jacket or top. But I'll take an hour or two of heightened emotion over wasting my time buying things they scrunch their little noses at, or that end up not fitting, any day of the week. My time is limited as a mom of 4, which is why taking each of them on solo shopping trips isn't really feasible either. So in the end, I figure, let's get 'er done so I can move on with the 82 other tasks on my to-do list, rather than spending valuable time, and sometimes gas money, on multiple trips to the mall, or UPS store to exchange items that, well, I'd wear, but my apparently my kiddo won't.

At least there's always an adult beverage waiting for me at home after a shopping trip, and, hey: sometimes going to the clothes store with my girls is a blast. I look at them and feel so lucky to have daughters to shop with. It's not exactly the worst thing they love clothes and love to shop! In the end, seeing the smiles on their faces when we pay for the purchases is all the reward I need. That, and like I said, a (very big) glass of wine once we get back to our house.