4 Moms answer questions: Why skirts? and more

Howdy, howdy friends!  We’ve been doing our 4 Moms series for quite a while now, and I’m feeling a little more casual.  Maybe I’ll even let my hair down while you’re here, literally.  The hair clip feels just a little too librarian these days, though some of my older readers might remember why I always wear my hair up during the warm weather.

This week, the 4 Moms are answering questions from our readers.  [email protected] Olives will be talking about baby books, family worship and camping.  Smockity will tackle road trips, honoring your husband in the small things, and preparing for a new baby.  The Deputy Headmistress is keeping us guessing, but it’s sure to be enlightening!

Here are a few questions from my own mailbag.  As promised, the first one deals with what we wear:

1. Jodi asked, “Would you mind sharing what has led you to wear ‘mostly skirts most of the time’”?

mostly skirts, most of the timeJodi,

Our choice to wear mostly skirts (and dresses) most of the time is a cultural statement.

We don’t believe that there is anything inherently sinful about a woman or girl in pants or shorts, but we do object to the androgyny of our culture – the insistence that there is no substantial or meaningful different between the sexes.  This philosophy is lived out many ways, but one way that we see it is in the often indistinguishable differences between girls’ and boys’ clothes.

Even the styles that were considered specifically masculine or feminine not many years ago have now blended and blurred so that too often the only way to tell which gender a garment is intended for is by which rack you found it on.

Because of this, one way that we choose to counter it is by dressing in a distinctly feminine way when we go out in public.  Our girls wear clothes that could never be mistaken for boy clothes.  Ditto for the boys: no tight legged low-cut jeans that look like they came off the girls’ rack.

2. What do you do about internet rules, filters etc for the kids?

We use Covenant Eyes internet accountability software to keep all the members of the family accountable for the sites they visit.  This isn’t a filter (which often blocks useful and appropriate sites) but a reporting system that flags suspicious sites for review.

The children are generally limited in their recreational time online to 15 minutes/day on Facebook.   Additional internet time is by permission only.  Of course most requests are approved.  Usually they want to write a blog post, type up a poem or short story, research a current topic of discussion, pursue an entrepreneurial interest, practice typing, etc.  As long as the time is being used wisely, we don’t have a hard fast rule about how much time each child spends online.

3. I know families are loud and our houses are loud but where is the line for too loud? I don’t expect our children to be silent in the house but sometimes.. Just curious if you have any rules about this?

I’d scream for help now, but you probably wouldn’t hear me over the din.

I come from a very large, very quiet family.  My parents’ house is living proof that not all families, and not even all large families, are loud.  I and my 13 siblings are soft-spoken, and we take turns talking.  Sometimes we just sit quietly and enjoy each other’s company.

I married into a very loud – er, exuberant family.  They talk a lot, and they do it loudly, sometimes all at the same time.  They are – and we are – the life of the party.  I’ll admit that it took me years to adjust, but now I love it…usually…

When my own children were all small, I fought the gene pool.  I kept the TV volume very low when they watched movies to encourage them to speak softly.  I corrected them consistently for playing too loudly, and our house was usually quiet until Daddy came home and riled them up.

But then they grew up.  I was soon outnumbered, outweighed, outvoted and out-talked.  The preacher blood runs strong in my husband’s side of the family, and even if we don’t believe in women preachers the girls still get the preacher lungs to pass on to their sons.

There do need to be limits, and I’ll be the first to admit that our family of loudmouths is the LAST family you should be asking for advice in this area.  That’s probably not the answer you were looking for, but I’m just keeping it real here.  Real loud.

4. I have 3 girls, two are very close in size to each other, and one is very close in size to me. I struggle with sorting socks and unmentionables! Since you have more girls than I do, I thought you may have some insight into keeping track of who’s whose of those items which the kids don’t want to share..

The trick is to buy different patterns or colors and then to remember which pattern or color belongs to whom.

And the trick to that: have your children sort the laundry.  Quite honestly, sorting the laundry is one job I just can’t do myself.  My girls share and swap clothes so often I’m entirely lost, and they know it.  I can handle mine, hubby’s, the 2 boys’ clothes, and little Bethany.  The bigger girls are on their own.

Another solution that we use on occasion is to have each member of the household pull his/her own belongings out – either while the laundry is hanging on the drying rack, or by scattering a freshly dried load on the sofa or table for all to see.  Of course in this case, somebody has to help the very young ones, and I always do my hunney’s laundry for him.

5. Bath Schedule–  With so many kids…how do you or when do you get baths and showers in?  Do the older siblings bathe the babies?

The older members of the family shower daily, some in the morning and some at night – both, if we’ve been jogging or otherwise worked up a sweat.

The younger ones bathe as needed, sometimes more often than others.  Their baths often come in the afternoon or early evening, and the older ones often help the very young ones.  If several little ones are having baths in a row I often tell the bigger girls to each choose one little one to help and we can run them all through in short order.

I always bathe the newest baby, though.  It’s my maternal privilege.  🙂

That’s it for today.  Do you have a question you would like to see addressed in a future post?  Let me know!

Do you have different answers for any of these questions?  I’m all ears.


  1. As far as sorting clothes (I have 6 girls and 3 boys), who else can recognize their clothes but themselves. When I fold, my problem is with 3 girls. I just stack their clothes and they each take out their own. That goes for socks, too. My two youngest girls are like twins, they just share all their clothes.

  2. To tell clothing apart, my mother did something similar to one of the other commenters above – for girls she used one dot for the oldest, two for the next, and so on. It helps a lot with hand-me-downs to be able to just add one. Since there were only two boys in my family, they used Xs. Dots were simpler for the five girls than Xs would have been.

  3. With so many young girls,How do you deal with those ‘certain times’ when a female may be moody,snappy ,depressed and so on?

  4. While I was at the doctors office the other day, there was a sheet of “tips” posted on the door…one of the tips was from a mother of many and she said that she labels her childrens’ clothes with a simple “dot” system. The eldest gets one dot (with a sharpie marker) and the second gets 2, etc. That way, when clothing is passed down, all they have to do is add another dot to the tag. I thought that was a pretty brilliant idea! Although I have to say, I have my girls sort the laundry too…they’re WAY better at it than I!

  5. Not sure if someone suggested this but what my mom did for my brothers was to put a dot on the tag. 1 for the oldest and when it was passed down got another dot, so he had 2. Then it was passed down and got a third dot. So on and so forth. I don’t have this problem since my kids styles vary so much.

  6. Lisa in ND says:

    That’s probably the best answer I’ve ever heard for “why do you wear skirts?” Thank you!

    Deanna’s dress is very pretty. Of course, everyone looks pretty (and Parker looks handsome). I adore those Marie-Madeline clothes — got to get a skirt for my DD someday.

    I need to limit my son’s (age 13) time on the computer, and you have given me some great ideas. He likes the games a little too much, especially when he should be doing school work!

    Enjoy the film festival. 🙂

  7. my mom came up with the best idea yet for marking kids’ clothes. i have 3 brothers and when the oldest boy got new clothes they would be marked with one dot in the back with a permanent marker, the 2nd brother had 2 dots and the youngest brother 3 dots… so as clothes were passed down you just added a dot and it was easy to keep track of whose was what. a lot easier than sewing stitch markings, etc.

  8. Kim, thank you so much for answering my question! I knew I would like what you had to say on the subject 🙂

  9. Stephanie says:

    I really enjoyed your post about skirts, when we tell people (or people ask) about our clothing choices, we always get funny looks with our explanations, i think ill try yours (if you dont mind!) next time, since the reasons are the same, you just are better with words! The only time we really wear pants is when we are at the gym working out, since i cant picture my self lifting weights safely and modestly in a skirt. That being said, I hate to wear pants anyway, those times in the gym are horrible, to me (or maybe on me? ) pants never fit right or look right. Also , we do put pants on under skirts when it is really cold outside ( we live in Oklahoma City and it does get cold at least to us). Sams Club sells a great long john type product for women, its thin enough that is not bulky under a skirt (or i guess pants) but VERY warm. they are kind of pricey ($10) but i havent ever found anything like it in thrift stores.

  10. I have to say that during the (too short) time we spent with you your kids seemed enthusiastic and spirited but also polite and not prone to interrupt. We commented on it later, because it’s not a combination you see very often.

  11. Ps I can’t open the Covenant Eyes link???

  12. This is cool! We have the same conviction regarding clothing! Because our 3 girls are 18 months apart (3 and under!!!) we have all their clothes together and for now wear what fit 🙂

  13. I love your blog! I have 4 sons and 1 daughter who is 5 years old. I never set out to have her wear dresses all the time, but she does! We were blessed by a woman in our church who has decided to make my daughter’s complete wardrobe for 2 seasons now. She has about 17 fall/winter dresses and 17 spring/summer. She has leggings or shorts to go under every dress! We are so blessed!

  14. I just thought you’d like to know that as I was reading this post, my oldest daughter looked at your picture and asked, “Which one is the Mom?”. I don’t think too many mothers of 10 get that compliment much! :0)

    I like your answer on the “skirts” question. That’s the reason we give for dressing the way we do, as well. As to the loudness, my husband and I do not like loud talking or many different noises at once. Our children seem to not have inherited the “quiet genes” that my husband and I have, but were working on it. :0) Slowly.

  15. Could you write a post about breastfeeding? (Maybe you have in the archives…) If you do it, why? For how long? Joys and difficulties along the way? Have you still been breastfeeding while pregnant?

  16. I have a question in regard to the noisy family issue- if they are so loud, how do they hear you? Do you have to yell or have you been able to train them to pick up and tune in on your voice?

    My voice is such that when I shout to get attention, I feel like I sound so nasty and angry even when I’m not. I’ve tried just keeping my volume down, but alas no one cares to listen. Tips?

    • Quinn,
      There are several answers to that question depending on the exact circumstances.
      First, they’re not always loud, though it may seem that way sometimes. 🙂 There is a time and a place for quiet, and a time and a place for loud and joyful noises. Training is always a work in progress, but we *are* making progress.
      Second, yes: they have been trained to listen for our voices and we hold them accountable if they miss a command because they’re just being too loud.
      Third, I try to get their attention before I start talking: eye contact, a hand gesture, or even walking across the room to them.
      And occasionally, I just ignore my own quiet gene and bellow a command loudly enough to be heard over the din. Usually that command is, “Quiet down!”

  17. I’d love to know where you buy your clothes (skirts and dresses). I love Deanna and Kaitlyn’s outfits in this photo. Could you let us know? They look so cute!

    • Alanna,
      The outfits in that photo were hand-me-downs from the Long ladies of Marie-Madeline Studios. Most were handcrafted by them, but a few items were purchased elsewhere. Deanna’s dress came to her via the Longs from Chadwick’s. She had seen it in the catalog and was beside herself with joy to find that very dress in the boxes we received from our friends this week. Our friends had expertly altered it to lengthen the hem, making it even better!

  18. On the underwear & socks question: my mother did this even though there was only herself and me to mix up. Put a couple stitches of thread in the toes or the backs of each article, just enough to stay in place. Color code it: Mom has no stitches, oldest daughter blue, next green, etc.

  19. Regarding mixing up the laundry: Let your kids pick a color of embroidery thread each (and not so close as to be confusing) and backstitch (or make them backstitch) a line onto the tag or the inside of the collar. That way you will be able to tell at a glance whose is what. When they outgrow the item and it goes on to the next it’s easy to clip out the stitching and replace it with a new color, as opposed to laundry pens or name tags.

  20. I love this blog.

    A question about skirts…how to you wear them practically? Tennis shoes? Leggings? Is there a skirt style better than others for moving around? I need some tips to make them good for everyday wear.

    • jenny,
      We wear our skirts a variety of ways: during the winter I sometimes layer them for warmth and wear with boots. During the summer I wear with comfortable sandals.
      The girls like to wear leggings or knee/thigh high socks for extra warmth. When they climb trees or jump on the trampoline during the warmer months, they sometimes wear a pair of short beneath.
      For sheer versatility and comfort, I like a skirt with a wide hem in a mid-calf length. This provides plenty of coverage and room to move, yet is short enough that it won’t get tangled underfoot when you go up stairs with your hands full. I also prefer an elastic waistband since my figure is constantly changing. I can wear most of the same skirts before, during and after pregnancy, just letting them ride below my belly as the baby grows.

  21. Had to laugh at your mention of boy jeans that look like they came off the girl’s rack. My husband literally calls jeans like that “girl jeans” and does not hold high opinions of males that wear them.

  22. Elizabeth says:

    I don’t know if you answered “my” questions exactly. But those were what I wanted to know so thank you for answering them. 🙂 The noise level one just made me laugh thank you. One day it will be quiet and we will miss it right???? 🙂 Your blog also inspires me/makes me smile thank you!

  23. I truly appreciate your answer about dressing distinctly feminine. Females can be just as immodest in a dress as in pants. We wear dresses most of the time as well. At home we’ve had to resort to capris for certain young ladies who climb trees, build tee-pees and run through the woods, catching flowing skirts on brambles and ripping them! Thanks for posting! 🙂

  24. I really enjoyed your reply on wearing skirts, it sounds so much more well thought out then the answer I usually give. By “mostly skirts, most of the time” what does that mean?

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