The clothes on the kids go round and round – the art of second-hand parenting!

I was sitting on the floor with my mum, surrounded by bags, boxes and towering piles of childrens’ clothing – boy and girl – when I had to jump up and take a photo. Ever since I first got pregnant with my first child I have been playing this game, where friends give you all the cast-off clothing from their kids and you go through them and get to decide what to keep (most of it) and what to bin (anything very stained) and what to charity shop (colours that don’t suit your kid, weird psychotic rabbit cartoon designs you can’t face looking at etc) and then, when the time comes, you bundle up all your kid’s things and pass them on to a friend with an appropriately aged child. Never, though, has this game seemed quite so absurdly funny as it has these last couple of months.

I have multiple streams of incoming clothing – two friends with boy and girl combos just slightly older than my two, two friends with girls the same age as my boy and boys just slightly younger than my girl, and it’s these last two who have me laughing the hardest. Let me paint you a picture.

One friend, let’s call her Lucy, shows up on my doorstep with four enormous bags. One full of girls’ clothes (age 2-4), one full of girls’ shoes and wellies, two full of baby boy clothes (2 – 4 months). She has a 3 year old girl and my girl has been getting all her old clothes. In return I pass her all The Boy’s old clothes for her baby boy born in May this year.  When he’s finished with those she brings them back to be passed on to my other friend, let’s call her Kate, who has a baby boy born in September.

That’s not the end of it though. Kate has a three year old girl also, so we get all her daughter’s old things for the Girl, too. We also all shared round our maternity clothes as our pregnancies were staggered. Are you following this?  I’m amazed if you are, because it makes my head spin and I’m living it.

So I turned up at Kate’s house triumphantly waving two large bags full of baby boy clothes, full of relief at getting them out of my (tiny) house. She smirks at me and produces a similar sized bag of yet more returned maternity clothes, plus two BOXES of girls’ clothes age 18mo – 3.

So a couple of days ago I decide to go through all these clothes, sorting out what I have, what I’ll keep of The Boy’s for The Girl, what I’ll pass on, what I’ll keep of the new batch of incoming clothes. Here’s a photo of the resultant chaos:

sorting childrens' clothes

You know the really scary thing? That’s not even all the stuff. That’s just what I could fit in the frame! I am not complaining, because in the last 4 years I have had to spend almost no money on children’s clothes, yet both my two are always beautifully dressed, but oh my word – the logistical nightmare of keeping on top of what fits, when, and storing the too-large stuff in a very small house. Well.

If you’re interested I have three super large clothes storage bags and keep everything in those, separated into age groups. These live in top of the wardrobe in The Boys’ room.  I periodically sort through these to make sure I’m only keeping things we will use – if there’re too many things to fit in just those three bags, some of it has to go. It’s the only way to stay on top of things.

I have now identified a boxful of childrens’ clothes, mostly girls’ (as the boys’ stuff is being passed along to friends) that needs a home. I will either give it away, sell it or charity shop it. Part of me hurts at having to let go of the things my babies have worn (I even did a post on the subject) but mostly I am relieved to have the space, both physical and emotional/mental – I‘m done having babies, after all – plus I need to keep paying the clothing karma forward.

Shame my sister isn’t close to having babies yet, I could offload on her! I doubt there’ll be anything left by the time she gets started. Oh well.

What do you do with your old baby things? Is it harder to pass them on if you bought them all new?

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