Family Finance Friday
One of the biggest expenses associated with having children is buying clothes. Let me rephrase: clothing is an expense of having children that can quickly become one of the biggest expenses, assuming you’re patterning your children’s attire based on what you see on Facebook and Instagram. For those abstaining from social media, it’s an absolute zoo of adorable children in gloriously appealing outfits. Yesterday alone I saw a one-year old in a full body monkey outfit (outfit, not costume), a group of toddlers with giraffe print leggings, and an entire family (four kids) with matching yoga pants (naturally they were doing family yoga in the picture). While I’m not sure I have the body or the flexibility to pull off matching yoga pants with my wife and daughters, I definitely can’t afford to mess around with the nonsense of buying matching yoga gear.
There are fewer treasures more valuable than a frugal wife these days. I am fortunately blessed with a partner largely unconcerned about putting the latest trends and fashions on our young girls, and the next clothing-shopping spree she goes on will be the first in our tenure as parents. This may lead you to believe that our girls are underdressed and fashionably deprived. That, however, is not the case as we hit the family jackpot with our daughters. Eliza and Everly came after a whopping 8 female cousins, so hand-me-downs are as commonplace as dirty diapers in our house. We cannot visit any family without returning with 17 tubs of used clothing. It’s been an incredible blessing and relief for us, especially since the cousins were always fabulously dressed so we have quite the selection in outfitting the girls.
Without exaggeration, I can say that the only clothing items we have purchased in Eliza’s 2.5 years of life are a pack of plain socks and a set of tights to wear underneath dresses. In 2.5 years, we have spent roughly $12 on dressing our daughter. Miracle. Now, we have spent $12,000,000 on diapers in that amount of time, so don’t assume we’re completely out of the woods or living the high life! The downside to all of these hand-me-downs is that we have an entire room of mismatched storage bins exploding in every direction. The only redeeming quality to the space crunch and mess is that all I see when observing the wreckage is FREEEEEEEE. I’m always down with free.
It can be a struggle to outfit a kid when there isn’t a gaggle of family members ready to bombard you with a trillion tons of recycled outfits, but there are always options like hitting garage sales or Goodwill stores. Whether you are buying new or used, it’s critical to understand how seldom your young children are going to wear these clothes. I’m pretty sure my daughter is currently growing at about 8 inches per week, which makes dressing her in the morning a near impossibility. An outfit that looks gorgeous on her one week suddenly has a top that can’t contain her protruding gut the next. The majority of her nice outfits and dresses come straight from the hand-me-down storage container, get worn 2-3 times, and quickly return to the container for the next child. There are two things you can never keep up with: growing children’s clothing sizes and the family next door.
While social media can be such a blessing in so many ways, it can be difficult to navigate as a young family when you’re catching nothing but perfect glimpses from other families. Perfect outfits with professional photographers. Pictures of kids actually looking at the camera AND smiling (I didn’t think that was possible). Matching outfits for 9 member families. It’s insanity out there and, all joking aside; it can really put pressure on parents to assimilate their kids into the glamorous culture developing on social media. The truth, however, is that sometimes a diaper is all the clothing a toddler needs to enjoy a great Saturday. The pictures that mean the most in several years won’t be staged diva shots in $100 toddler dresses but rather the ones that actually reflect the imperfect life toddlers create.