My afternoon to myself has consisted of sorting the kids clothes into various piles:
1. Too big for beanpole
2. Too small for beanpole, but too big for Tinypants
3. This will fit them this summer if it ever comes
4. Too small for Tinypants
The first three piles have gone into vacuum bags to be stored away, while pile 4 is in a bag waiting to go on to the next child in the line. And of course the cat feels he is helping in his own special way…
This is a valuable tradition within friends and family of passing the kids clothes on when they haven’t worn holes in the knees. If the clothes are still good, a friend can always benefit from a bag of ‘stuff’. The recipient then keeps the bits they need and passes the rest to a charity shop. When their munchkins grow out of the clothes, the cycle starts again.
We have not yet got to the point where the kids object to the idea of hand me down clothes, and whilst they are developing their own unique styles (even at age 7 & 8!), they already understand the value of upcycling clothes rather than buying new wardrobes every season.
Tinypants possibly has more of an issue with this as she is in a set of friends who are mainly the eldest child from middle class families who are quite focused on their physical appearance (at age 7!!). The poor kid is doomed living with parents who are of the breed who worked out their own fashion and couldn’t give two hoots what people thought. I still happily wear giant flares that I made combined with bright red hair and smartie nails (5 different colours). LSH spent his youth in massive skater jeans combined with some sort of offensive tshirt (this was reigned in a bit once the kids could read) and a giant Mohawk. He ended up a lot more sensible once he landed a decent job, but as he works at home most days while he’s developing SharePoint stuff I cannot claim to understand, he does indulge in some particularly dubious Hawaiian shirts. Poor Tinypants is trying to find her place in the world with very normal friends whilst still being happy in her oddball family. It can’t be easy learning that harsh lesson that girls are often obsessed with the perception of who they are rather than just getting on with being them. Hell, it took me nearly 25 years to work that one out!
So why is the hand me down cycle so important for a child’s mental health? Well, for a start, it is a lesson in valuing those around you by receiving loved items, but also by giving them away. But also, it’s a lesson in making the most of what you have. Not everything is about fashion, but style is important – and stylish isn’t always fashionable. But stylish is you.
Oh, and mummy isn’t made of money!