Children’s clothing is expensive – often not much cheaper than full-grown garments for us parents. In addition, the wear and tear are incredibly high. The clothes get dirty, get broken during romps, are quickly worn out when a favorite piece is finally found, or a piece may not be liked and is therefore never worn.
To make matters worse, our little ones grow out of their clothes far too quickly. Thus, the clothes for our offspring can become quite an expensive affair over time. In order to keep these expenses as low as possible, there are a few options that you can gradually make a habit of. Children’s clothing doesn’t have to be a money sucker – it’s easy to keep costs down.
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Our little ones’ clothes are subjected to a lot of wear and tear – every day. So it’s unfortunately inevitable that every now and then a tear or hole in the fabric is the result of an adventurous afternoon.
All the worse, of course, because this can quickly happen to otherwise brand-new clothes or – red alert – your favorite pair of pants. So that you can still save this important piece of clothing, or just because of small holes already have to refresh the closet again, it is a good idea to simply repair the damage.
For this, of course, there are some options that are suitable for repairing various clothes – we may still know many of them from grandma. In the older generations, far less was thrown away and housewives had all sorts of tricks up their sleeves to maximize the life of textiles:
- Plugging holes: Whether socks or sweaters: With a needle and the darning egg, which you still know from grandma’s sewing box, it goes to the collar of the holes. It may be necessary to practice the move once or twice, but then it’s very easy to do.
- Mending tears or sewing buttons back on: Basically, these are the easiest jobs. Even a zipper can be replaced on jackets and vests with a little practice. Some sewing thread and a few needles are in stock in most households anyway.
- Patches: A great insider tip. Sturdy patches that can be sewn on or ironed on to cover up the holes and tears, while still looking cool. If the kids get to pick out the designs themselves each time, it might even enhance the damaged pants.
- Storing fabric: When discarding or throwing away an old t-shirt or pair of pants, it’s a good idea to cut out a piece of fabric in good condition and store it safely. Then it can serve wonderfully later as a free mending piece for repairing a newer garment. Of course, you always have to weigh whether a nice sweater with a visible, darned hole won’t turn from a good garment for school and special occasions into more of a cozy sweater for the couch. Many children, even at elementary school age, are quite a bit sensitive and may not want to be teased because of darning holes. So: always check with the little ones if they still like the patched clothes before you put them out for the school day.
Instead of repairing broken clothes, it’s generally a better idea to prevent them from breaking in the first place. That way, you’ll noticeably extend the lifespan and save a lot of money on replacement clothes in the long run. The better you handle the clothes and care for them regularly and treat them properly, the longer they will last. Especially with favorite pieces of the little ones, it is important that they remain as long as possible, even though they are worn very often and intensively.
- Washing: Children’s clothing, in particular, is washed extremely frequently. So frequently, in fact, that it is sometimes almost impossible to keep up with the mountains of laundry and wash everything carefully. But due to contact with warm to hot water, aggressive detergents, and the physical strain of spinning and drying, textiles suffer over time – the colors wash out or lose their shape and softness. Sorting the laundry care and cleaning it exactly as required – always at the lowest possible temperature and using a gentle detergent that matches the color – preserves the original quality for a noticeably long time. You should therefore also take the time to pre-treat very dirty clothes with bad stains by hand and only then wash them in the machine – then you don’t have to raise the temperature, which also puts a strain on the rest of the wash load. Speaking of temperature, the symbols that indicate the optimal care for each garment show the highest recommended temperature – if the clothes are not particularly dirty, such as a T-shirt that has been worn once, you can happily wash them at a colder temperature. Likewise, it does no good to use more detergent than recommended. More chemicals have a negative effect on both the environment and the clothing. So: Even with a particularly dirty wash cycle, stay within the recommended detergent dose!
- Drying: The most economical and at the same time most gentle drying naturally takes place in the fresh air. But: If you frequently dry colorful clothes outdoors on the clothesline, the repeated influence of sunlight over a longer period of time also ensures that the colors slowly fade. Therefore, it is recommended to do this only on warm but cloudy days or to find a shady place. Similarly, isolated garments are not suitable for hanging, as they can deform when they are heavier due to moisture. Although a clothes dryer is, of course, very convenient, the extremely dry and hot air in the device strains the fibers of textiles, which in the long run noticeably affects the quality. So, if possible, air dries the clothes in a gentle place – of course, it is often unavoidable to use the dryer at least once in a while.
- Shoe cleaning: Shoes are a special case. They are used more often and more intensively than most other items of clothing and have to withstand a lot. Shoes are a very durable piece of clothing – if they are well cared for. Since they experience a lot of dirt and wear, especially when playing outside, it’s especially important to wash them properly to maintain their quality. Especially since shoes can also be quite expensive, the effort is well worth it. Regular, gentle shoe cleaning helps prevent dirt from permanently discoloring or damaging the material. Breaks in wear also help to maintain the shape longer – so if possible, alternate two pairs of shoes for daily activities, so both live longer!
Clothing Cheaper Or Free: Second Hand
The pants no longer fit after only eight months, although they still look like the first day? Far too often, new clothes have to be bought for this reason, which quickly becomes expensive. But that’s exactly why it’s a good idea not to buy all your clothes from stores at the price of new ones. Especially for children up to preschool age, it is a perfect way to provide them with textiles.
Because especially at this age, both the wear and tear are very high, and children are not yet too picky. Therefore, there are various ways to keep the closet filled as sparingly as possible.
Children need a lot of clothes, especially in the years when they are mainly growing up and romping around. They quickly become broken or too small – especially between the ages of one and six, a completely new size is needed up to twice a year. At the latest at the beginning of puberty, it starts all over again.
Especially in phases of growth spurts or for clothes that are only worn in the playroom or on the couch anyway, it is a great pity if a lot of money is repeatedly spent on new clothes. Therefore, it is always welcome when you find ways to get clothes much cheaper.
A very good way to do this is to buy second-hand textiles. Many parents sell their children’s cast-off shirts and pants, so the market for this is very large and you have a massive selection available. Fortunately, nowadays you don’t have to rely only on second-hand stores for this and hope that you will find suitable and still usable clothes. Thanks to the offers of the Internet, it has become much easier to find secondhand clothes.
Especially through the extremely much larger available selection, it has become much easier to find suitable and appealing clothes, which above all also have a high quality. eBay classifieds or various secondhand exchanges, but also local parent groups on social networks like Facebook are good places to start here.
You hardly have to worry about hygiene: One wash cycle at the highest possible temperature with heavy-duty detergent and the textiles are like new again. If you’re not afraid of the effort, you can also take action yourself and resell your children’s worn-out clothes to recoup some of the costs.
In addition to the cost savings, it is simply much more sustainable to extend the life of clothing in this way.
Many of us surely know this from the past – those who had older siblings had their own closet full of clothes that their sister or brother had discarded some time ago.
If you have or plan to have more than one child, you should urgently keep the best pieces that the older children grow out of. The time will come when the little sister or brother will grow into it.
One problem with older children is that, unfortunately, not everyone is particularly fond of getting clothes that have already been worn. They may also be in a phase where the older brother is not particularly liked. Then, unfortunately, you may have to bite the bullet and simply accept that the inherited sweater will not become a favorite.
One way to do this is to involve the kids in the process. Let the youngest ones determine what they would like to get later. They might pick based on different criteria than you would. But as long as it ends up being clothes they would actually wear, everyone should be happy.
But often the opposite is also the case. Especially at a certain age, the older siblings are great role models and especially already have “cooler” clothes – then it may well be that they are already looking forward to finally being big enough to finally put on the fancy pants.
At the very least, however, you can manage to avoid having to spend almost any money at all on play and house clothes – because inherited clothes are certainly always good for that.
Swap And Lend
Through daycare, kindergarten, and schools, young parents actually always get to know a large number of other families who are in the same or a similar situation. If you don’t take advantage of this, it’s your own fault. Of course, you don’t have to urgently hand over worn-out clothes from friends to the children – that will probably please in the rarest cases, especially if they have regular contact.
However, across an age group or from children who are not direct friends, it is often possible to find buyers for pants or jackets that would otherwise have to go into the old clothes collection or be sold with great effort. Especially for more expensive functional clothing such as rain jackets, which are worn primarily out of necessity, this is a good idea, example.
That’s why there are swap meets, where like-minded parents can gather to help each other out. They are a great way to preserve or pass on worn clothing.
Let It Be A Gift
Just because you prefer mostly new clothes doesn’t necessarily mean you have to buy them all yourself. Outsourcing at least part of the cost is definitely a good idea. Friends and family like to give the young family members gifts – so that the children’s room is not flooded with toys, you should instead mention that you want clothes. And, of course, what size is current.
On the one hand, this limits the flood of toys that you would otherwise accumulate little by little. On the other hand, it eases the financial burden of buying large quantities of clothing. Especially since it also brings joy to the grandparents or friends of the family when the little ones wear the things given as gifts.
An insider tip: On birthdays or similar special occasions, it can happen that you pass on the wish list to many people, who then all buy something at once. Then you suddenly have so many clothes lying there that you can’t wear them all.
In these situations, it’s a good idea to tell a few people already the next clothing size, even if it’s not due for a few months. Then you already have them in stock when the time comes, instead of a pile of new sweaters and pants of the same size that will soon be too small anyway.
The Darn Teenage Age
Buying clothes for kids is already a big challenge. Even at a young age, they can already be picky, wanting to wear only their favorite vest, for example, and leaving all other clothes to the left.
But if you think these are the worst cases, you haven’t yet tried to provide a teenager with new clothes. From one day to the next, individual preferences or one’s favorite color no longer matter. Trends, role models, and brands then suddenly set the tone. This has two problematic side effects:
- It becomes more difficult to simply bring them something to wear. One’s own tastes become very specific and harder to see through, which is why things you pick out are not positively received in most cases.
- It is very expensive. Branded clothes with much higher prices start to play an important role. In addition, much older clothing is suddenly not worn at all, because only “cool” pieces are acceptable.
From the parents’ point of view, this is of course very sudden and doesn’t make much sense, especially also because often the quality is not really higher than with other manufacturers. But you should also look at this from the children’s perspective.
The social pressure that develops around fashion is very real even at thirteen. Especially for kids, for whom it’s very important to belong and impress friends, you can’t sugarcoat it. This is the case with both girls and boys, and it’s hard to say where the problem is more severe. Of course, it also depends very much on the situation and the circle of friends in the individual case whether, for example, a very specific brand is considered a must-have status symbol.
Therefore, in this respect, one should show understanding towards the new challenges. Even if it becomes more expensive, it is therefore unavoidable to at least partially equip the wardrobe with a few special pieces.
In addition, it is important to enter into a direct dialogue with the children at the latest then – you have to explain that it is not so easy financially to buy them all the clothes they want without exception. On the other hand, you should try to listen to them and understand their new preferences – what are the trends, why are they exactly these brands, what alternatives are there?
As a special gift now and then to buy just the right clothes can also be a positive change to give the offspring a very special pleasure.