Kids truly do grow up fast. Many parents told my wife and me to take many pictures and capture all moments possible because they go by so quickly. We took those pictures, and we cherish the memories. Some parents suggested that we buy our son’s clothes a size or two larger than really needed – especially during his toddler and elementary years — and allow him to grow into them. If we bought the exact size, he would outgrow them too soon and we would just have to buy more.
What we bought in advance
We would buy polo shirts, T-shirts, and elastic banded shorts and pants at both the current size and the next size up. This cost us a little more up front, but the clothes lasted longer, and we could shop less often, saving us money overall. We could determine the current and next size easily, so we did not always need him with us when shopping except for when buying shoes. He could wear down or outgrow shoes faster than we could keep up, so we started buying two and three pairs at a time. We often found sales and bought his current and next sizes.
When we knew to get more
We knew to buy more clothes when we could see more arm and leg sticking through the sleeves and pant legs. Too much ankle and shin indicated the need for new pants. We still bought the current and the next sizes. We usually looked for clothes that he could take on and off himself easily such as T-shirts and elastic banded shorts and pants. When little, he had a hard time with buttons and zippers, but when he could work those himself, we started buying some dressier clothes for church and fancy occasions.
How we reduced the cost
- · Sale items
For new clothes, we shopped mostly at Target and Wal-Mart. They had the best prices and usually a two-for-one special or a 3-for-$25 type of sale. When at Target or Wal-Mart, we checked for sales or on the clearance racks first; fancy clothes did not matter to us. Why spend excess money on clothes that he would play in and outgrow soon? Even his school allowed us to buy uniforms at Target; the administration understands the rate at which kids grow, and they do their part to help us reduce the costs.
- · Children’s consignment shops
We had a favorite children’s consignment shop that allowed us to buy, sell, and trade clothes and build store credit. This store had everything we needed: jumpers, t-shirts, polo shirts, shorts, and pull-up pants with elastic waistbands. We would take his outgrown clothes to the consignment store and sell them for either cash or store credit to reduce our costs. The owner would even take back clothes that she sold us previously as long as we maintained them well enough. We normally took the store credit and shopped there for new or used clothes still in very good condition. The variety, store credit, and reduced prices made shopping for our son’s clothes much easier. If we did not want to shop immediately, we could save the store credit for later. The owner treated her repeat customers very well.
- · Trading clothes with friends
We live on a cul-de-sac with boys of different ages, and our son’s school friends are all of different sizes. For example, our son once outgrew his school sweatshirt, and his smaller friend had one much too big. That was an easy trade; both boys got the exact size needed and no one had to spend money for a new one. Trading clothes among the boys saved us all some money and got each boy something new to wear.
Kids grow up fast, and we parents need to prepare for that growth in many ways. Physically, we need to anticipate height and weight. Our son will soon hit his early teen and adolescent years, the time of his most rapid growth. We will deal with the emotional strains as they come. For now, though, we will continue to plan for his physical growth and shop accordingly.
More from this contributor:
No, Why, and Mine — Our Toddler’s Three Favorite Words (and How We Handled Them)
Diaper Changing — Expect the Unexpected
We Take as Many Pictures as Possible