Friday, 30 March 2012

The tyranny of hand-me-downs

Look at that. Every day that is one of the first things I see. It makes my lovely and spacious bedroom like a rubbish dump only less smelly (unless the Panther has had an eventful encounter with a lamb bhuna recently). 


Those bags contain clothes suitable for boy children aged from one to three. Most of which have been worn by Boy Three. He was fortunate to be the last in a long line of hand-me-down chaps, which is how come he ended up with a more extensive and fancier wardrobe than he'd have had if it was left to me.


I'm very grateful - it has saved us a fortune. But since Boy Three outgrew the last lot a few months ago, they have sat there in the corner of the room, draining my energy. 


A friend whose twin boys are about 18 months old said "yes please, she'd have some", then life got in the way of us meeting up. I'm hoping to see her next week. 


Then I realised that she'll probably turn me away from her doorstep if I pitch up with this lot - her house (three boys and a husband) is probably bursting at the seams already. I'll just pick out the best bits. 


But then what. I feel duty bound to pass the parcels because they were given to me. I am too lazy to ebay them, I distrust charity door collections and I've run out of needy parents of boy children. Supersister said: "No thanks we've got plenty." When I suggested it but what she really meant was: "Don't even think about it."


And while I was wondering what to do with my body weight in children's clothes, I realised that I have a bit of a case of hand-me-down syndrome. The symptoms are an inability to get rid of other people's cast offs because they were given to me, pangs of guilt during the exercise of off-loading and crossness with myself for letting it confound me again.


I don't have much problem - beyond domestic inertia - in pitching out stuff I bought, however ill-advisedly, but gifted stuff is a different story. I agonise, try to find a willing recipient, then finally sigh with relief if I find an excuse to dump it. 


My home has been variously blighted by a globe-shaped cocktail cabinet, a 1960s sideboard, a table-football game, a very heavy and inefficient lawnmower, a nearly broken food processor, a totally broken answering machine and countless bits of baby and child paraphernalia.


Now Boy Three is rapidly outgrowing his current wardrobe which means even more will be joining the heap and I need some help. How do I rid myself of the current piles of stuff and how do I ensure I don't gather too many more? Anyone? 









11 comments:

  1. aren't there any red cross containers nearby? We have loads, like bottle banks but for clothes

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    1. That's a good idea. I think I've seen one near school - if not Red Cross then the Heart Foundation.

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  2. When you say you normally 'dump' stuff, you don't literally mean in the garbage, right? We can't have our planet turned into one huge landfill when so many charity shops needs saleable items!

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    1. Many of the garments have been worn by at least half a dozen little boys and are somewhat tired. Do you think they'd still want them?

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    2. Charity shops are DESPERATE for anything made of fabric! Whatever they cannot sell on as a usable item can be sold to rag merchants (who then either recycle the fabric or sell them on in developing nations who are just glad to have more clothing options). The charity shops are paid by weight, so if you have gnarly tea-towels, stained bedsheets, old dusters, etc. put them in a bag, mark it for ragging, then hand it over. Every kilo helps.

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    3. I didn't know. I once got an exceedingly sniffy response when I tried to donate some clothes that were less than new looking so I assumed it was the same all over.

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  3. I too have your inability to deal impartially with handmedowns. My daughter has been dressed from day 1 in second hand clothes from other people, and they have usually been in reasonable (or semi-reasonable) condition to pass on again. Actually there have been a few willing recipients where we live, so I continue to get pleasure from seeing my favourite bits and pieces being worn around the village by the 3rd (or even 4th) handers. I agree that you should donate for ragging even if not wearable, but find soeone with a kid who goes to nursery - they should be glad of stuff to send him in without worry of it getting tatty/dirty etc

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    1. It must be something to do with the extra emotional charge some stuff has. I wonder if nursery itself would be glad of some.

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  4. Ellen, we'd love to take some (not all please!) off your hands next week. You're quite right though, every corner of our house is stuffed with bags of kiddy stuff I can't chuck out. Have you heard of Jack and Jill markets? The decent stuff is going there and the rest to charity. It's just a case of finding the time now....

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    1. Funnily enough Super Sister was talking about Jack and Jill markets the other day. They sound pretty good.

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  5. I have decided that the best thing to do is to find a charity shop and take the whole lot in (I'm now trying to do a carrier bag a week to declutter) - yes in an ideal world we would find loving homes but I don't have the time or energy and I'd rather it went somewhere it'll do good than have them cluttering up my house

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