Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Frugal Parenting: Lesson One

Hand-me-downs are a blessing. Say that to yourself, “Hand-me-downs are a blessing”. I’m not talking about “Brady Bunch” era Peter pan collar shirts and plaid pants (which are somewhat stylish again), I’m referring to gently used baby and toddler clothes. It is so easy to get carried away with all of the delectable clothes available. After all, your child is the most precious, beautiful person you’ve ever seen and you naturally wish to showcase your little jewel in the manner best befitting him or her.

Keep in mind though, babies and small children need a lot of clothes. There are constant messes and wet spots and it’s impossible to guess the direction of the next projectile attack. If you can afford to foot the bill for all the adorable outfits your child will wear three times before outgrowing then you have a far more lucrative career than I do.

I recently hit upon “The Mother Lode”. A friend (with excellent taste) asked if I would be interested in the baby clothes her son has outgrown. (Would I? Do bears… well, we know what bears do in the woods. Right?) One week later, she came to my house bearing four boxes of clothes, sized from six months up to 18 months. (Four boxes!)

As soon as I opened the first box, I knew I was in love. The brands ranged from Carters and Old Navy to Gap and even Sonoma Lifestyle! I was entranced by the softness of the sleepers (inside and out) and the charming prints of the sturdy play clothes. There were a number of impossibly cute sweaters which I never would have purchased on my own, although they assuredly would have caught my eye.

Imagine my surprise when I thanked my kindhearted friend and she acknowledged, “Some of those were hand-me-downs from [another friend]”. Being open to gently used clothes from others can free up the funds to buy a few special guilt-free pieces (for your child or for yourself)! And the best part- when your child has outgrown the clothes, you can pass them on to someone else. It’s truly a circle of fashion!

Next time someone offers you free clothes, graciously accept. Don’t allow pride to get in the way. Even if you aren’t as fortunate as I was, there would certainly be enough to suit your taste to make it worth the time to look through it. Likewise, if you have a friend with an older child, don’t be too timid to mention, “If you want to get rid of his (or her) outgrown clothes, I would love the hand-me-downs.”

1 comment:

Elisha said...

One of my best friends had a baby girl last December, and as soon as she heard I was pregnant she said, "I have so much cute stuff to give you! So many cute clothes!" This was before we found out my baby was a girl, so all I did at the time was laugh. But now, after going baby shopping a few times, and after realizing how much money I need to spend on other baby stuff (say, diapers, a crib, a car seat, a stroller, everything a baby needs), I'm excited to get whatever she's willing to give me.