Hand Me Downs: How Do You Store and What Do You Keep?

For years I stowed plastic totes stuffed with yellowed onesies and poop-stained overalls only to find that when I had a new baby, I was not excited to pull out my gross old hand-me-downs. I became more discriminating in what I saved.

I decided to donate any clothes I was sick of. Why not let someone put them to use during the 2-5 year span between each of my kids? Those onesies and overalls could be worn out by the time I had next baby and, anyway, onesies are like $5 for 3.

So I paired down, which made the hand me downs much easier to organize and deal with. When I opened up those boxes to find something for a new baby I was excited about the things I had saved because I saved only the good stuff. What do you hang on to?

My kids go boy-girl-boy-girl. So the time span between the girls and the boys is 5 years or more. I have lots of gender-neutral baby clothes, but as kids get older the clothes become a bit more gender-specific. And it’s surprising how quickly hand me downs look dated. My son doesn’t care. He hates to go shopping for school clothes and will gladly “shop” from his older brother’s hand me downs. It’s mostly T-shirts anyway, and he doesn’t care that the Levis are wide-legged, light denim compared to the latest trends. He wears it all happily.

My youngest daughter is a bit more picky. She will not wear a jean if it isn’t skinny and she has no patience for the old-fashioned frocks and jumpers that I would force on my older daughter. We have this beautiful plaid wool kilt that my mom got for Maggie in Ireland. She wore it to church regularly. Ellen, more diva than kindergartner, won’t even consider it. I pick my battles. I’m tired.

So I get rid of lots of things that are outdated by the time they get to Ellen (it’s a 7 year span between her and her older sister). But I have a separate large tote where I keep things that I consider heirlooms. The kilt will go in there. The blessing outfits and some special dresses and sweaters, little shoes, and things that are in good shape that are special will be saved to give to my kids when they grow up. I’m not hanging on to any stained onesies for my grandbabies to wear.

Now I’ve got one big plastic tub per kid. The older ones put stuff they grow out of in the tubs and I weed through it once a year or so. I’m pretty ruthless about anything my younger kids grow out of, since I don’t plan to have anymore kids. If it’s not an “heirloom” it gets donated.

I do believe in saving things and being prepared, but by donating clothing that would otherwise clutter our homes and stress our lives we can help others. I think it’s a great idea to pare down when/if you can. I’ve never regretted getting rid of any baby clothes.

What about you? How do you store your hand me downs? Do you label them by size? Do you try to buy gender-neutral stuff for siblings to wear later? What do you think is worth keeping? Let me know in the comments!

More of my writing at Kid Scoop

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