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BlsdMama

Hand me down people

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Do you struggle?

I have totes and totes and totes of clothing - organized by male/female and ages.

I am cutting them in half.

This is SO painful.  I have been meaning to do it for 1-2 weeks now and today is the day.
This is PAINFUL.

It used to be a budget thing.  I loved being able to sort through at the beginning of a season and realize, "OH WOW! I have NOTHING to buy."

But, as hand-me-downs get used, abused, etc. they start to have mismatches, etc.

I am thinking of switching to "capsule" wardrobe philosophies and keeping basics and fill in as needed. (I should mention we have a truly amazing consignment store here both for little kids and young women, so buying a few pieces isn't a big deal.)  The intent is to SERIOUSLY minimize/better manage our clothing here.  It's out of control.  Between moving here (and discovering those two consignment stores), inheritances from my nieces, and buying more new, the girls have a lot of clothing....  I'm much better with the youngers but it is still too much.


Still... I hearken back to the "old days" when I really watched that budget like a hawk and was worried if I got rid of stuff, I wouldn't just go out and buy something and feel guilty.  It's a mental thing!  

I'll feel better if I just do it.
I'll feel better if I just do it.
I'll feel better if I just do it...

Rip off the band-aid.

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I agree that it helps if you focus on how this blesses others.

Yes I have a hard time culling used stuff.  We have aunties who always ensure my kids' closets are overflowing with stuff, some of which isn't even used.  I keep waiting for the day my smallest kid has either outgrown something or convinced me that there is no way she would be caught dead in that item of clothing.  Then I pass it down to my nieces, who presumably go through the same process, LOL. 

I have gotten better about taking my kids' word for it that they will really never ever wear that thing.

I have similar issues with books.

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It’s been a bit rough but the kids are getting older and they don’t have the same body type or taste.  I just let my younger pick what she likes out of the boxes already stored and give away the rest.  When it’s the time I would have boxed stuff up now I have her pick anything of her sister out she thinks she’ll want and give away the rest.    Capsule works with my oldest.  Not so well with my younger who is natural hoarder and gets shirts free t-shirts at like all of her sporting events.

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I dread the seasonal change of clothing, but we had 5 kids.  You have 9 still at home.
HMDs are really the only affordable way to clothe them.

*It's Worth The Work to Organize it all!*

But I always pre-sort everything that is donated to us---so the super junky stuff doesn't even enter the closet.

I just have a box for each kid to grow into.
If you have a shirt that currently fits them well, you can just compare the HMDs to that shirt, to decide if they will fit.
I have a box of khaki dress pants, in every single size -- and we've used them well.

If you have more clothes than will fit in a large tub for the one child, then have them choose what they like the most.

But yes, we live in a land with Plenty of Used Clothing!
Don't feel like you have to keep it all in order to clothe your family!

But (for a inspiring example) we had a constant stream of HMD navy blazers as our boys grew up.
My friend with 5 boys had received them from her pediatrician's family.
Our boys wore them, and then I've gradually handed them down to another friend with 4 boys.
So they've been worn by FOUR different families . . . which makes for lots of weddings & funerals & Easter Sundays!  😀
 

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It is SO HARD.

 

I used to have, gosh, twenty boxes and bins with boys and girls from infant to about ten.  But when we moved it was just too much space to manage - we pay mortgage on every square foot those boxes take up, and I spend time working around them and organizing them too.  That costs, and in our case it was worth more to streamline for my sanity than what we were saving in clothes.

 So now I’m ruthless - I save nothing but the best church clothes and shoes, and snow gear.  That’s IT.  

Everything else gets passed on to bless someone else, and I limit the amount of outfits each kid has to help with laundry.  Three church outfits, seven play outfits, and seven or eight pairs of undies and socks.  Two sets of pajamas.  Play shoes, flip flops, rain/snow boots, church shoes.  Even that is a lot of stuff when multiplied by eight people.  But just going to Goodwill, Once Upon A Child or Old Navy when we need more make sure so much more sense than rummaging through mismatched or dated hand me downs, when it comes to my time AND our budget.  The slight cost different was worth it for us.  

Edited by Arctic Mama
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Besides the basics, I tend to keep any well-made, still-in-style items I think will look good on them or that may be needed for a special event, even if the kids say they won't wear them.  I rarely regret that decision, as it saves me from shopping at the last minute when they discover that they urgently need something we otherwise wouldn't already have.    

 

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I remember doing this.

Here's what motivated me;

My bathroom door was sticking. My dh went up in the attic to find out why. And he came thundering down the stairs fussing: "Are you trying to cave in our ceiling????" 

The beams for the ceiling are not meant for all of that weight. And I had to purge. 

And it was a hassle. But...

My kids could close their dresser drawers. 

Rotating clothes for the season didn't take 3 days. 

Laundry for clothing rotation didn't take days. (My clothes always ended up smelling stale after being removed from storage) 

I knew what people had and what they needed. 

My kids knew what they had, what matched, and could better manage laundry because there were fewer clothes.

Sundays weren't a hassle because I only kept church clothes that all 3 girls would wear. So all of the church dresses were comfortable, didn't require random slips or whatever. They were EASY clothes.

 

Yes, it's a hassle, but you will be glad you did this. 

 

Swtiching now to basic pieces doesn't mean you never do hand me downs. I just learned that I could NOT keep all HMD. I would sort when people gave us stuff and tried to stick to my basic rules Bottoms are jeans or dark/khaki solid colors for pants, skirts and shorts.  Tops are not cartoony and minimally embellished. Things look nicer  for longer when there are few graphics to get worn looking. 2 Pajamas/nighties per age/size (after potty training days.) I stick to my numbers of items and once I have what I need I turned  people down. No, sorry no room to store anything else. Thanks for thinking of me. Simplifying categories meant that I could keep a notebook with needed items in my bag and keep track of So and So is going to need 2-3 polos for next fall. 

Edited by fairfarmhand
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We have gotten a lot of hand me downs over the years and I am so grateful for all of it. Thankfully storage space is not an issue right now. But like others, when hand me downs come in, I immediately sort and get rid of anything that I know we will not use. I don't feel bad about tossing worn out items because we have plenty.  We get mostly boy HMDs which is fantastic because I have 5 boys. In some sizes I have a ton of stuff and i hesitate to get rid of any of it because I know how hard boys are on clothes. Only so much survives after each boy has worn it. As soon as the youngest boy or girl outgrows a size, I quickly donate it so I don't have to store it.

Our budget isn't as tight as it once was, but it is still worth it to me to spend the time sorting and storing HMDs. I feel like very little of our budget goes to clothing, which is no small thing with 7 kids!  

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I agree with others about only keeping basic items. Denim or khaki shorts that match with all the shirts is so much easier than sets of clothing that only match each other.  Especially when kids dress themselves. 😅 

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Been there, except I only had four boys' worth of stuff to go through. But I totally know what you mean - the older the clothes get, the more kids go through them, the more there is and the worse condition they get in. Just last year, I went through all my totes and pared them down to the NICE clothes, or stuff that was at least decent enough to wear at home, knowing that we are now in a position to buy a few new things as needed.

I encourage you to do it. I felt SO much better once I had. I love my nicely folded and organized totes of clothing now. 🙂

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We are sort of hand me down people--I was big into it even with just two kids, but the reality of having kids with completely different builds and body types means that I had to pare down what I was doing drastically to make it worth the hassle. Also, my older son will be initially excited about clothes, but then he ends up only wearing a few favorite outfits over and over.

In our case, if it's not slim or a brand that makes things on the slim side, we pass it along to someone else. And I mean really slim--my older son is wiry, and he looks like a football player next to my bean pole.

We use old t-shirts as throw away rags rather than using paper towels, so that helps us move t-shirts along. If I have too many, I have a relative that uses them for woodworking (staining, stripping, etc.), so the rest go there. 

That leaves just playclothes--some people really want them (especially people with really outdoorsy kids) or items that are super slim from my second kiddo. We know another family with a super slim kiddo that is a little shorter than mine, and he gets the rest of our stuff.

We keep shoes to a minimum (our church is very informal, and to get dress shoes for my second, they'd literally all have to be custom made), but we do hang onto snow clothes and such. 

I wouldn't feel guilty about paring things down and sometimes buying something. You need margin wherever you can get it.

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I used to have boxes and boxes sorted by age and gender, but eventually we couldn’t afford the space any more.  That, and I finally admitted to myself that we weren’t looking like having the big family of stair-stepped kids I’d always imagined.  Now my 2 girls and 2 boys are each only one size away from their same-gender sibling, so the clothes go directly into either the younger sibling’s drawer, the trash, or to donate when it is time to move up sizes.  I only store 1 box of baby items for sentimental value, 1 box of things I’ve found for cheap but the kids haven’t quite grown into yet, and one box of seasonal things like coats and soccer cleats.  It is so much simpler.  

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I’ve not been blessed with big family, but have at times been hugely grateful for hand me downs.

with foster dc 

Especially with a child with sensory issues where really old worn soft hand me downs were way preferable to hard new cloth — so even rehoming what seems like your less good stuff may be a blessing of old and worn in and soft to someone who needs that!

 

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4 hours ago, Beth S said:

I dread the seasonal change of clothing, but we had 5 kids.  You have 9 still at home.
HMDs are really the only affordable way to clothe them.
 


I should clarify - I currently have like FOURTEEN tubs of hand me downs.  I don't plan on getting rid of everything, but I KNOW I keep too much.  

So I viciously went through closets today of four girls and three tubs of clothes.  (Decent for one day of work.)  I threw away three bags of stuff (paper, clothing, plastic, boxes, etc from closets, under beds, etc.) I have three garbage bags full of clothing for Stuff, ETc.  (They keep what they can consign and donate the rest.)  Packed away another tub full of clothes.


I would *never* toss all the HMDs... But, there comes that time when three girls haven't worn the sweater that you give up.  LOL.  And then there is this phenomenon - I have two nieces and our 17yo who pass down to the 15yo and 12yo.  (They are the same size.)  It results in extras.  But then the 15yo and 12yo pass down to the 11yo.  She has extras.   The 9yo and 7yo generally need more new, but  then the two pass down to just one again....  Extras!  

For the boys, some things can pass - like flannel shirts.  What kid on a farm doesn't need chore jeans and flannel shirts?  Or thermal shirts?  Or athletic shorts?  But the boys are gapped at 20yo, 14yo, and 4yo! 😉   It just makes me wonder how worthwhile to pack it all up and hold on to it for 6 / 10 years, kwim?

I tossed out my wedding dress today.  Told my BFF, then she reacted in such a way that I retrieved it.  It's in the attic now.  Hm.

Edited by BlsdMama
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Oh sheesh I’m just waiting to recycle my wedding dress into clutch bags for the girls. None of them would wear it, and a nice wedding clutch would be easier to store and reuse.  It turned out so nicely too, the one I had made from my scrap bits.  

Wedding dresses get stored way too often, I don’t think as many of us brides actually care as are told we should 😆

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I found that once my children reached the tween years, most hand-me downs were more of a hassle than they were worth.  My children are two years apart in age, but 4-6 clothing sizes apart with totally different builds.  I would pack up all the decent looking clothing my oldest wore wait 3 or 4 years,  then unpack it to find that it was out-of-date, the wrong size, the wrong season, a color/style the youngest would refuse to wear, or my oldest had worn the item so often that I never wanted to see it again. 

For me, coats, long underwear, boots, and sports gear were worth saving.  Barely worn dress clothing can work in a pinch.  Otherwise, I find it more efficient to donate clothing  outgrown clothing in good condition than to save it hoping something will fit the younger.  My children participate in enough activities to have an overabundance of everyday t-shirts.  Otherwise they each have a few bottoms in basic colors, one Sunday outfit, and a couple of 'good' shirts.  I am sometimes offered hand-me downs for my youngest, I only accept if they are his current size or one size larger and a color and style that he is likely to wear.   (My eldest is larger than most adults, so no hand-me downs for him.)

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32 minutes ago, Arctic Mama said:

Oh sheesh I’m just waiting to recycle my wedding dress into clutch bags for the girls. None of them would wear it, and a nice wedding clutch would be easier to store and reuse.  It turned out so nicely too, the one I had made from my scrap bits.  

Wedding dresses get stored way too often, I don’t think as many of us brides actually care as are told we should 😆

 

After dithering for several years, I finally donated my dress to Goodwill.  I thought dh would be upset, but he accepted that we don't have a daughter, our nieces are already taller than me, and it is unlikely that a daughter-in-law would want to wear her MIL's dress.  Plus we are short on storage space. 

I would have liked to give the dress to someone who could use it, but it was too old for the Military Bride donation and I didn't have time to wait for Angel Gowns to need it.

One of my cousins rented her dress.  I wish I had researched that option.  I loved my gown, but storing a dress I wore for less than 4 hours for 16 years was long enough.  

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3 hours ago, BlsdMama said:



So I viciously went through closets today of four girls and three tubs of clothes.  (Decent for one day of work.)  I threw away three bags of stuff (paper, clothing, plastic, boxes, etc from closets, under beds, etc.) I have three garbage bags full of clothing for Stuff, ETc.  (They keep what they can consign and donate the rest.)  Packed away another tub full of clothes.
 

Good job!!

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I don't think that you'll ever regret ripping that band-aid. And hopefully now that you've started, it will get easier. Besides, a kid's capsule wardrobe is easy and inexpensive to replace, even without hand-me-downs.

Think of it this way (because I know you are): if it was this hard for you, imagine how much harder it would be for your dh or one of your girls? At least you have all the institutional knowledge of where things came from/how old they are/growth rate patterns in your kiddos/etc... Streamlining *now* is a gift you are giving THEM, in the event you aren't able to help *later.*

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7 hours ago, fairfarmhand said:

 

Yes, it's a hassle, but you will be glad you did this. 

 

Swtiching now to basic pieces doesn't mean you never do hand me downs. I just learned that I could NOT keep all HMD. I would sort when people gave us stuff and tried to stick to my basic rules Bottoms are jeans or dark/khaki solid colors for pants, skirts and shorts.  Tops are not cartoony and minimally embellished. Things look nicer  for longer when there are few graphics to get worn looking. 2 Pajamas/nighties per age/size (after potty training days.) I stick to my numbers of items and once I have what I need I turned  people down. No, sorry no room to store anything else. Thanks for thinking of me. Simplifying categories meant that I could keep a notebook with needed items in my bag and keep track of So and So is going to need 2-3 polos for next fall. 


Yes!  Today, going through, I could more clearly think.  I was looking at sweaters, solid tees, khakis, denim that was still nice, and dresses.  I let go of a LOT.  It felt good.  Granted, I barely made a dent, lol, but still, it felt good.

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24 minutes ago, Rockhopper said:

I don't think that you'll ever regret ripping that band-aid. And hopefully now that you've started, it will get easier. Besides, a kid's capsule wardrobe is easy and inexpensive to replace, even without hand-me-downs.

Think of it this way (because I know you are): if it was this hard for you, imagine how much harder it would be for your dh or one of your girls? At least you have all the institutional knowledge of where things came from/how old they are/growth rate patterns in your kiddos/etc... Streamlining *now* is a gift you are giving THEM, in the event you aren't able to help *later.*


That was a really sweet way to phrase it and yeah, what I was thinking too. 😉 Thanks.

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I wouldn't keep the boy HMD's. Ten years is a long time for shoes and things with elastic to be stored. My boys are just two years apart, so their stuff doesn't get put away in between, and I only keep a few things for sentiment. The things I kept from my oldest daughter weren't always great for the next girl 6.5 years younger, but the stuff I had for my second daughter have worked well for my youngest (3.5 years younger). Based on my own personal experience, I would only store stuff I love if it wouldn't be worn in fewer than 5 years. There are always more garage sales.

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Saving clothes just hasn’t worked well for me in the long run.  It was definitely a big help when the kids were real little, but not beyond that. Of course, I “only” have 5.

My daughters are a year apart, but one was tall and one was tiny. And when their growth slowed down, many things wound up being the wrong season.  On the other hand, my oldest two boys are 8.5 years apart.  Baby clothes were kind of helpful, but my 12yo has only claimed a few basic pieces in the past near-decade.  Not only are many things dated, but the two just have very different senses of style, overall.  The first was into collared shirts and khakis.  The second still plays in the mud, lol.

We’ve been sending most hand-me-downs outside of the family for a while now, specifically to kids who can use them right away instead of storing them and hoping they’ll work later.  That, and just donating to clothing drives.

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I miss the hand-me-down stages. Mine starting wearing the same size right about the time they outgrew children's sizes (around 8-10?), so that's when we stopped. (Now we rely heavily on thrift store finds -- hand-me-downs of another sort.)

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I get hmd from my SIL for my youngest. I usually only keep about half of what she sends. I counted just the pants we had in 3T and there were 30! The only things I buy for him are shoes, socks, shorts, and dress clothes. What's funny is they live near the beach but there are very few shorts. My 14 yo helped me sort his clothes and she was ruthless in the purging. I went from 1 tub and 2 trash bags to just 1 tub in the next size that he'll need.

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My family is significantly smaller, but there was a time when we thought we'd have more, so I saved a lot. HMDs were useful in the early years, but after a while it got out of control. I think I donated five or six large trash bags full of clothes, and that's not even counting things that were in too rough condition to be donatable. 

My kids are all two years apart, but my boys have very different builds, so they're more like 5-6 years apart for HMD purposes. Stuff doesn't always hold up well in storage. Oldest is incredibly rough on clothes and only likes certain colors. Middle likes different colors and has a slimmer, shorter build. Basically, I've mostly given up on HMDs, although it can work for things like swimsuits, winter coats, certain pants, and hats and neutral-ish pajamas for the girl. I'm embracing capsule wardrobes. Just what they need to get through a basic week. Because of our climate and their preferences, there's not a huge difference between summer and winter wardrobes and it can all be kept in their closets, but YMMV.

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For me, sorting though DD's too small stuff was too much to handle.  We'd hoped for a second child, but we'd worried we wouldn't be able to have any at all.   So, mostly we just feel blessed with DD.   But, sorting though DD's too small makes me confront that there isn't a younger sibling to pass them onto and I get weepy.  So, now I just pack them all away in the attic. 

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19 hours ago, BlsdMama said:

And then there is this phenomenon - I have two nieces and our 17yo who pass down to the 15yo and 12yo.  (They are the same size.)  It results in extras.  But then the 15yo and 12yo pass down to the 11yo.  She has extras.   The 9yo and 7yo generally need more new, but  then the two pass down to just one again....  Extras!  

For the boys, some things can pass - like flannel shirts.  What kid on a farm doesn't need chore jeans and flannel shirts?  Or thermal shirts?  Or athletic shorts?  But the boys are gapped at 20yo, 14yo, and 4yo! 😉   It just makes me wonder how worthwhile to pack it all up and hold on to it for 6 / 10 years, kwim?

It sounds like you are purging just fine at this point, but we had the extras problem at one point (neighbor plus older brother), and I prioritized stuff I thought would match multiple things or be expensive to replace. Also, if there was an issue around body type for the person receiving, I prioritized that way.

I would keep very little for the boys. That's a crazy amount of time for that stuff to hang around. I would keep a few things for play/work clothes so that you don't have to wear out something new when you buy it, or maybe some timeless stuff like long johns. Even athletic shorts change a lot. That said, when we went through the phase of athletic shorts that were long and baggy and looked like culottes, I was really glad for a second hand store to find older styles, lol! I thought they looked ridiculous on everyone, but on my skinny kids, they truly looked like skirts. 

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