No shame in hand me downs

hand me downWe are fortunate (it’s a weird thing to feel fortunate about) that we share our 2 older sons with their other parents. Together with these “other parents”, we are able to get school fees paid, clothes purchased and other basic necessities seen to, that we would generally have to pay for on our own. And yet, the boys still follow the “hand me down” tradition that my sister and I do (and I’m sure a bunch of you do too!) Albeit it doesn’t happen often (because they pretty much wear the same size clothing) but if Kyle’s shorts are too small, and they are in good condish, oh hey Seth here’s a cool shorts for you. And if my baby brother, Jason, has a hoody that doesn’t fit anymore, oh look Kyle, you score a hoody! And when Hubstopher’s favorite leather jacket made him look like Mr Bean, Jason scored a leather jacket! Doesn’t it work like that everywhere? I’m asking for a friend. This friend frequents these Pre-loved Clothing groups on Facebook, so she was a bit curious.

The conversation with my friend stemmed from a place where she found it a luxury to be able to sell her children’s second hand belongings in these social media groups, because in most cases (or shall I say, in her case) there are perfectly good other children in the family (or friendship circle) that would find use for them. There is no shame in hand me downs. Or is there? Has it become taboo?hand me down

Analysts say that todays parents actually spend much more on children’s clothes and outfits, compared to that of moms of yesteryear. So with that said, those cool R400 Woolies shoes are probably still in really good condish and if cousin Amy could get use out of them, wouldn’t that be a bonus? I’ve heard that “hand me down friendly” moms feel awkward about “handing down” because it feels like charity. And that some moms don’t want hand me downs – they would rather pay you for it. Is there truth behind this?

Maybe it’s the actual child, who does not feel comfortable wearing someone elses second hand items. Or maybe it’s the source; eg. if the friendly receptionist at work offered to give your child a bag of clothes, would it be weird? I’ve only ever encountered one situation where a friend became SO super awkward about his older sister giving Kyle a (really cool) jacket that her son had no use for. Should we only be handing out/taking hand me down’s from specific people?

And then, with regards to Pre-loved Clothing groups: I realize that a bunch of factors contribute to the popularity of these second hand forums. Things like our tough economic times – everyone needs to make an extra buck! Perhaps you don’t have other kids in your family or friendship circles who could benefit from your “hand me downs”. Perhaps you’ve spent a lot on your R900 Naartjie jacket and giving it away, for free, feels wrong. Fair enough – all pretty solid reasons.

I’ve always thought that hand me downs make the world a better place! And certainly a less cluttered place, that’s for sure! Plus there’s the added benefit of being blessed to be a blessing to someone else. But I wonder if it has now become a no-no. Have we become to “fancy” to accept hand me downs?

Mom, what is YOUR opinion on this?


  • venean

    My opinion is freebies rule. But you also don’t want to dress your kid in something that looks like someones hand me down. Also I think hand me downs is a nice way of thinking of it. Most people dont want to accept it because they think of it as a donation – and the connotation that its for people who are needy… have less than etc. It probably just boils down to pride.

  • Kim Muller

    I am so for “hand me downs”. My friend and I have kids that are similar ages but their sizes differ. So when my eldest outgrows something and it’s still good enough to be worn, her eldest gets it. And when her eldest outgrows that same item, she sends it back to me for my youngest to wear. It’s been an amazing cost saving doing things this way. And the kids don’t seem to care much. Plus, it’s great looking back at photos of all the kids wearing the same thing (for me at least) 😀

    • Luchae

      It makes for such cooool stories to tell! My son wears a jersey that belonged to my brother and before that to a cousin and before that to the cousin’s dad. Pretty soon it’ll be passed down to a younger nephew and it’s a high quality jersey and still in good condition PLUS it has a cool story now!

  • Melanie

    We love hand me downs. My kids don’t care where the clothes come from. My 4yo wears her big sister’s hand me downs, & loves to set aside pretty dresses for a younger friend.

  • Leanie

    I’m not a parent, but i grow up with hand me downs. The only store bought clothes was our school clothes and maybe one dress that my mom have purchase for a wedding invite that we went to. So as a child i actually don’t know what it is to have new clothes. As a adult to day most of my clothes are still hand me down only a few have i purchased. I find nothing wrong with hand me downs. when i look through my clothes that doesn’t fit anymore etc we give it away or we shell it in a second hand store. To receive hand me down feels to me like a lucky packet, what inside and how would it fit I find much more joy this way than to fit clothes on in a store.

  • Bilqees

    My kids receive a lot on hand me downs from their cousins and in turn we then give it to another family member. And so it continues. I think as long as it’s in a good condition, give it to someone that can make use of it. With everything being so expensive, I am very excited to receive a message from my sis or my sister in law saying there’s a parcel for the kids. I know i appreciate it so very much and I’m sure so do a lot of other parents out there.

  • Carike

    I love hand me downs! My kids could not be bothered who wore what before them. My kids are gifted expensive clothes from their godmother and I would never be able to throw it out. I look for someone who could still use it. The last batch went to our neighbour’s daughter and she was sooooo happy to receive it!

    • Luchae

      I love that it sounds as if kids today are not phased by the fact that they are wearing hand me downs! Gives me hope for our future generation 🙂

  • Laverne

    People have a lot more disposable income now and with clothing becoming cheaper and cheaper at places like ackermans everyone is buying new and with all the cute fashionable stuff we end up with hectic excessive wardrobes for kids. Alot of people just dont need anymore clothes from others because they buy so much already. Also familes are smaller now so ages are not so close as before. I have a daugher thats 2 and noone to give her stuff too. Not ONE. She has really expensive stuff from next (only girl is the family) she is indulged by all my sisters and her grandparents. So sometimes I want to sell it because they are worth thousands and brand new.

    • Luchae

      That is so true L, families ARE smaller than before. Perhaps that’s why the “hand me down” system is not as popular as before. I totally hear you!

  • Candice

    I am a middle child so there are no issues to be had with “hand me downs”, I used to do it regulary but now my second daughter is taller than the eldest, it no longer works. I have the older kids in the family so it is quite nostalgic to see the little ones in a tracksuit that I bought 10 years ago (not even faded) and I feel good when I see that the clothing is so well cared for. The other day I laughed because my nephew is still using a hooded towel that I used 12 years ago when my daughter was born. I feel if family members can benefit then why sell the clothing online? I have established a routine, after every season if it’s too small or they havent worn the clothing for some reason, time to pack and be a ‘Regular Santa’ for your nieces. I would like to cultivate generosity within them and what a practical way to do it 🙂

  • Soraya

    No shame in hand-me-downs. We have a growing suitcase of clothing that pretty much moves from one family to the next (in-laws and cousins included!) until an item is falling apart and unwearable, at which point it is recycled into a cleaning rag. This approach fits into my own philosophy of minimal living, with minimal waste.

  • Tanya

    I empty out my closet atleast once a year. And my aunties rush to be first in the picking for my hand me downs. The first expensive coat i bought with my first paycheck is still doing the rounds in the family and brings back such fond memories☺. The only bad thing is it keeps reminding me of how skinny i once was!!

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