Early one morning this week I pulled my son's navy blue sweat pants from his closet. Hmm, hole in the knee, not quite right for school. I set them aside and was delighted to find another pair of navy blue sweat pants. But, they too had a hole in the knee! We settled on a pair of jeans, and off we went to school. Mental note made, a trick of all Mama's out there -- buy him new sweat pants, find time.
A night or two later I was sorting through his closet, pulling out the items he had outgrown. Then I pulled out a bin of items a childhood friend gave me a year or so ago. I thought, look in here before you do any shopping, you might find some things. Well, it was like Christmas morning with birthday cake on top! Pair after pair of sweat pants, hood sweat shirts, a black tee-shirt he declared "oh, so cool!" And with that bin opening, I no longer needed to shop. This friend has lightened my Mama duties so many times, heaping bags of boy and girl clothes into my trunk. As her son enters 8th grade, mine has just started kindergarten......and apparently boys like sweat pants!
Handmedowns are a cycle in my frugal mind. To receive also means to give, and give I have been doing. Off went a huge box of infant clothes to the daughter-in-law of a women I met at a book reading. Three bags of boy 3T will be picked up by yet another childhood friend who has a son just over one. And our daughter's items are given a second (or third or fourth) life by the little sister of a former preschool classmate of our son's.
My children, especially my son, love looking at a necklace I picked up years ago in Ireland. It is the Celtic Knot. It symbolizes no beginning and no end, just constant flow. That is how I like to think about the used clothes of your children's youth. Sure, we buy a few new things here and there. But for the most part we embrace and enjoy the generosity of others, and pass it on to others. My trips to the mall are nearly nonexistent, our clothing budget hardly a slice of the budgetary pie, all allowing us to maximize their 529 college savings. That is one thing we won't be able to acquire second hand.