Compelling parenting issue of the day

by DaniGirl on April 7, 2010 · 56 comments

in Mothering without a licence

Okay, bloggy peeps, here’s your compelling parenting issue of the day. This one is on my mind as I cycle through the boxes of boy’s clothes that I have stashed in big blue plastic bins in the closet, each carefully labeled with season and size:

Hand-me-down underwear? Yay or nay?


{ 55 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kathleen April 7, 2010 at 7:47 am

I’m totally there. Here’s my plan:
Irreplaceable super-absorbant training pants==> hand-me-downs
Big girl undies==> One kid only (to get the thrill value of moving into new undies, I think they have to be NEW)
Now, how am I going to tell the girls undies appart? How do I find sufficiently different big-girl undies for two girls who are pretty much the same size? Anybody know of a source for STRIPED girls panties?
I know they’re not going to buy the way we differentiate face cloths and towels – pattern for one, plain for the other- ’cause who wants plain undies?

2 krista April 7, 2010 at 7:54 am

Yay. I also cloth diaper, and buy used/use hand me downs… which is along the same lines. They do get some new undies, when they are starting out in them, but after that they are used.

3 Emma April 7, 2010 at 7:55 am

This is HILARIOUS because I was going to ask on twitter the other day. And I polled the husband first, and he was like ‘you might be taking this thrifty thing a bit too far’. We’ve compromised similarly to Kathleen. The 2 year old will be receiving the Kushies training underwear that cost a fortune. He will not be receiving his brother’s hand me down regular old underwear. Except for a couple of pairs his brother literally only wore like once or twice.

4 Lynn April 7, 2010 at 8:12 am

I vote yay. I just can’t bring myself to throw away that much fabric when it’s still quite wearable. The Little Miss is wearing her older sister’s first pair of underpants right now.

When the Captain outgrew his early underwear, we had no idea what to do with it. I actually blogged about it and a friend of mine who reads my blog came over and took it all, and I was happy it went to a new home. I think she’s the exception, though – when the girls are done with their undies they’re likely to be garbage.

5 DaniGirl April 7, 2010 at 8:28 am

Thus far, we’ve differentiated whose underwear belongs to whom by buying boxer-briefs for one and traditional briefs for the other. (I am fine with a shared sock drawer but have to tell you, interchangeable underwear is something I’m not yet convinced about. I’m surprised the answer to the hand-me-down question is trending to yes!) Which raises a new issue: if we do the hand-me-down thing, the question of sorting becomes infinitely more complicated! And I have to find a third style of underwear when Luke gets trained. Traditional boxers, I suppose.

And *that’s* the real reason we stopped at three kids: we ran out of underwear styles for men.

hahaha – captcha = “he toiling” which is only one tiny character away from “he soiling” which is EXACTLY what I’m worried about!!!

6 Marla April 7, 2010 at 8:40 am

Ask the potential recipient?

7 Karen April 7, 2010 at 8:41 am

I vote yes as well. They are brothers so why not. As long as the undies are not stained- that would be yucky- I see no problem with it. I have a son and a daughter so it has never come up with us. I will not under any circumstances put my son in his sisters panties.

8 Kelly April 7, 2010 at 8:47 am

My DD was thrilled to get hand-me-downs from her older, cooler cousins; yes, even the underwear was cool. Hot water wash, hot spin in the dryer – good to go! My DS #2 has worn his older brother’s everything, except socks, because I can never keep a pair together! What’s up with that?!

9 Kathleen April 7, 2010 at 9:18 am

Anybody have ideas for discriminating between same-size girls undies then? Felt pen initials in?

10 Mary Lynn April 7, 2010 at 9:33 am

I’m for Yay. As long as the undies still look fine, I’m happy to take hand-me-downs for my kids. I don’t get a lot of hand-me-down undies for them, so I ended up buying new, too. We use the new ones mostly, but the hand-me-downs are there just in case we need them (and we sometimes do when I haven’t managed to do laundry in a while).

11 Valerie April 7, 2010 at 9:46 am

Hand-me-down diapers, yes. Hand-me-down cloth pull-ups, yes (even girl to boy – they weren’t gender specific). Hand-me-down undies – not usually. DD wears them out before outgrowing (size 10 clothes, but still fits her size 6 undies). DS got some OshKosh undies from grandma that his legs got too wide for while they were still in good shape – I gave them to the Sally Ann.

12 Jennyandtm April 7, 2010 at 10:14 am

I would like to say nay for underwear and socks, but in practice that has not happened at our house. Everyone gets some new ones, but the two younger ones are also using some hand me downs.

13 Nat April 7, 2010 at 10:24 am

Within the family, maybe. But my gut reaction to hand me down undies is ick. I wouldn’t take them. (I won’t make rags from them either.) Within the family might be ok. But usually they get pretty worn and aren’t worth giving away even to St. Vincent or Sally Ann or whatever.

Totally ok with socks.

14 Sara in Montreal April 7, 2010 at 10:26 am

Within the familly, yes. On an emergency at friends house, obviously. But in a thrift store, that’s where I draw my line. I’d never by hand-me-down underwares (or bra for that matter) for myself, so I would not do it for the kids either.

15 Brenda April 7, 2010 at 10:41 am

Hand me down undies a yes in this house. Actually it is more like they are interchangable! They are both the same size now, I can’t tell apart whoes is whoes unless they have different characters on them! Batman for the older one, Curious George for the younger one. All other ones get distributed evenly into their drawers. He he, “their drawers!”

16 Karen April 7, 2010 at 10:45 am

I find my kids socks wear out long before their underwear. My son’s underwear wear more than my daughters but only because he takes a long, long time before his butt has grown enough to go up a size. Even so he has so many underwear and many of them look like new or gently used.

I use them for rags, it isn’t as though I didn’t was them. It seems wrong to purchase something for this purpose with all this material sitting around being wasted.

17 Mac and Cheese April 7, 2010 at 10:50 am

I wouldn’t wear my 4 year old’s underwear to save my life. I just couldn’t do that to the younger one.

18 Ninja Mom April 7, 2010 at 11:45 am

In a word, nay.

19 Finola April 7, 2010 at 11:48 am

Yay in our house so far, but if our youngest starts to object, then that will be the end of that.

20 Jody April 7, 2010 at 12:02 pm

Yeah, I’m fine with it. We don’t have that much underwear that’s pristine enough to donate to the thrift shop, but what there is, we donate.

I’ll tell you a secret: the girls just have one stash of underwear, and I have no idea whose is whose. It just gets stacked and divied up after it’s clean.

21 Mom on the Go April 7, 2010 at 12:40 pm

I pass the pristine undies along. As for keeping the underwear/socks separate, my mom had my dad and brothers color-coded: white/brown; grey/grey; blue/blue and all seemed to work out fine. No idea what she did for my sisters, though, and I was so much younger it was never an issue.

22 Rebecca April 7, 2010 at 12:55 pm

My boys are 8.5 yrs apart, so this isn’t an issue for us. However, I’m kind of squicked out by the idea, so no. I wouldn’t want to wear someone else’s old underwear so I wouldn’t expect my kids to either.

23 keren April 7, 2010 at 1:04 pm

only for potty training
socks i do pass

24 Windex April 7, 2010 at 1:08 pm

No way – not happening in our house….I am thrifty and I hand me down all the time (since there is 4 kids in this house). Socks they usually wear out before they can be handed down so that is not an issue but undies = ick.

25 Windex April 7, 2010 at 1:17 pm

Forgot to add for my boys who are close in size and age – we allow them each to pick one or two characters and they have to stick with them…this way we know who is who….it makes them have a bunch of the same undies but it works…

26 liz April 7, 2010 at 1:30 pm

Hand-me-downs YES. Along with at least one set of brand-new.

27 Annika April 7, 2010 at 1:58 pm

Thank god I have one boy and one girl, so won’t have to deal with this issue!

28 DaniGirl April 7, 2010 at 2:02 pm

This is an enlightening thread. I am truly amazed that the majority seem to be in favour of recycled underwear. I happened to speak to my mom earlier, and I think she had one foot out the door on the way to buy the boys some new undies after she read this post!!

(Reminds me of the time I visited home after about a year living away. I was wearing my (male) friend’s jeans, blown out at the knee. After taking a long look at me, my mother asked in as neutral a tone as she could muster, “Are you wearing those because you chose to or because you have to?” When I answered that it was because I chose to, she sighed in a resigned sort of way and never mentioned it again.)

29 colleen April 7, 2010 at 3:26 pm

You could colour code your boys underwear. White for one, blue for another and grey for the third. That way they could all wear the same style. I am all for recycling as long as the underwear still looks good and it stays in the family.

30 G. Welsh April 7, 2010 at 3:30 pm

Yay. I am assuming that they really have lots of life left in them. Boys really don’t change their underwear anyway. They just keep wearing the same ones and putting a clean ones in the laundry to fool mom!

As for telling apart the girls undies — I would take them shopping and let them pick out their fav styles, colours and then on laundry day, dump the basket in front of the girls and have them sort them out. All done.

31 Carly April 7, 2010 at 5:28 pm

I don’t really have an opinion on the underwear recycling matter. I say poll the kids and if they’re okay with it, then go for it. Mind you I only have one of my own right now so it’s not really a pressing concern.

As for differentiating the pairs between siblings, when I was a nanny way back when, I spent an afternoon in front of some good TV and sewed “dots” on the waistbands using a different colour of thread for each of the three boys. It lasted longer than the permanent marker and I let the kids pick the colour they wanted. Mom was thrilled as she no longer had to try and find specific styles or patterns for each child and it really didn’t take very long.

32 A Crafty Mom April 7, 2010 at 6:59 pm

I have talked to many who think its disgusting, but I do it. My boys are really close to the same size, and if they are in good condition, I just give them to the next kid. And thankfully my 2 y/o daughter seems very interested in wearing her older brothers’ underwear, so perhaps I will get away from buying her any new ones too!!

I think we are in a different time now – we are more thrifty and environmentally conscious. Is it really that gross? They’re washed and clean, right?? My mom had a hard time with this too, but I think I grew up in a time of more waste and purchasing without pressing reason. I bet more people do this than are willing to admit!!

33 Fawn April 7, 2010 at 10:32 pm

I don’t think I’d go buy used underwear from Sally Ann, but we’ve had some given to us by other families and I’m fine with it. (Why is it different? Because we “know” where they come from, I guess. LOL)

My sister and I are 16 months apart. I remember as kids when my mom folded laundry, the underwear would simply be divided into two piles — no distinction necessary.

Later on my mom sewed a few stitches of red thread at the waistline for one of us (or at the top of socks).

34 Fawn April 7, 2010 at 10:33 pm

Ahahaha! My captcha for that last comment was “unriper set”.

35 Amber April 7, 2010 at 10:41 pm

I would say ‘nay’, but I have a daughter and a son so it’s not going to happen anyway. I suppose I could dress my son in hand-me-down princess undies, but I’m not that evolved, so it’s all new for him. I would do hand-me-down cloth diapers without blinking, though, which is really much grosser if you think about it. I don’t know what’s up with that, really.

36 smothermother April 8, 2010 at 7:43 am

Yah. And since we don’t have any other sibblings, we get the hand me downs from friends. Which are more like family to us then family actually. And the jellybean is ridiculously excited when a new box of M and X’s clothes show up. He thinks is great. As long as they are in good condition, why not. Amber has a point, if you hand me down cloth diapers, or buy used, what is the difference?

37 alison April 8, 2010 at 12:15 pm

Rachel has inherited some of Leah’s undies. I didn’t give it much thought. Leah hands down her bathing suits to Rachel too. I don’t think I’d hand underwear down to anyone outside the family though. The only time I did that was when Rae received a pack of Princess undies at Christmas with a frill of lace at the waist that irritated her the moment that she put them on, so she took them right off. The worn-for-10-seconds pair and the other two still folded in the package were passed on in a bag of clothes to a friend with a smaller girl with the instructions to throw them away if the idea of worn (even if it was only a few seconds) underwear was icky.

38 trixie April 8, 2010 at 12:58 pm

I don’t think I’ve purchased a single pair of underwear for Sam. Hand-me-downs, the lot of them. It’s not like we’re scrubbing out the pee dribbles and cooties on a washing board down by the river. They’re good ‘n clean.

39 Shan @ the fairy blogmother April 8, 2010 at 5:09 pm

Ummm never ever. I just can’t do it.

40 Valerie April 9, 2010 at 8:44 am

you know, if the thought of wearing used (washed) underwear bothers you, then shouldn’t the thought of even touching them do the same? (not saying you in particular, Dani, just telling myself the same!)

41 DaniGirl April 9, 2010 at 9:32 am

LOL, Valerie, that question addresses a whole package of neuroses that I’m just not sure I’m willing to deal with in public! ๐Ÿ˜‰

And sorry, y’all, but I’m still not convinced. One boy per pair of underwear. And the idea of inter-family underwear sharing? *shudder* That one never even occurred to me!!

42 Beloved April 9, 2010 at 10:45 am

Ahh dear wife, you and your strange neuroses. I have no problem with the hand me down underwear as long as there are no holes and stains. I really don’t think the boys give a fig either, and its there butts that have to be in them. Heck I think they would go commando if we let them. Just this morning one of them was trying to convince me that wearing a pair for two days in a row is okay. Now that makes me shudder. If we let them they would wear them until they stood up on their own and grew legs, but that’s another topic entirely. Just a reminder too, Roley didn’t start with the first one.

43 Jen April 9, 2010 at 12:34 pm

I don’t but I do do something with the younger kid ones. The pants from age 2-3.5 went to my kids’ nursery for kids who have toilet accidents. The 3.5 to 5 ones went to their pre-school for the same reason.

Since then, I admit that yes, they have been thrown once outgrown.

44 ed April 10, 2010 at 9:25 pm

i say why not. they can be washed like any other piece of clothing…

45 Shaun April 11, 2010 at 3:01 pm

Unconcious yah. I didn’t realize my older daughter was putting her outgrown panties in little sisters panty drawer…The only reason I figured it out is my youngest LOVES boys underroo briefs. During potty training time, they didn’t make CARS, Scooby Do, Pokemon girl panties. What was one to do? Decided to hell with it and bought the boys briefs. (we pay outrageous prices for female boy briefs anyway..) Then paniced, how were we going to transition the youngest into more appropriate panties for school. Problem solved by big sister shifting panties from her dresser to sisters..and the number of girl panties were growing!

46 Meagan Francis April 12, 2010 at 11:48 am

This is too funny! It never even once occurred to me that anyone would NOT hand underwear down. Each kid gets his fair share of new undies too–as a stocking stuffer, and just because they need them. But omg-throw out perfectly good underwear? Perish the thought! As long as they aren’t, um, stainy, I wash ’em in hot and pass ’em on. And we have several cousins in the family all around the same size and they occasionally come home from their houses wearing THEIR underwear after an impromptu bath (also shared…) None of my kids care anything about their underwear…where they came from, what’s on them, who wore them last. They just don’t care. They’d wear the same pair for a year if I let them.

The idea of somebody’s butt-germs potentially getting on somebody else’s butt just doesn’t skeeve me out no matter how I look at it. Public pools, toilets, heck, doorknobs have butt germs on them too. The idea of wasting perfectly good underwear, however? Now THAT makes me want to run screaming from the room!

47 Crunchy April 12, 2010 at 12:12 pm

Well, I haven’t finished reading the responses, but I don’t have a problem with big sis handing undies down to little sis, but I can’t deal with getting a bag of hand me downs from a friend or from freecycle (especially) and finding undies in the bottom. Non-family hand-me-down undies give me the heebiejeebs.

(No offense to anyone who has passed undies down to us!)

48 Meagan Francis April 12, 2010 at 12:14 pm

Crunchy, I’ll take the family undies but not the stranger’s undies. It is my personal (and probably irrational) line in the sand.

49 Carrie April 12, 2010 at 12:50 pm

I suspect I will need to buy new undies for my youngest once she is ready to wear them. Not that I think hand me downs are wrong but because I think she won’t fit her sister’s old undies by then! Time will tell I suppose (hopefully time is short, I’m getting tired of diaper duty ๐Ÿ˜‰

50 Meagan Francis April 12, 2010 at 5:00 pm

Cracking up at comments in @danigirl 's hand-me-down-undies post. Had no idea this was such a hot topic! http://bit.ly/9325qd

51 Karen Angstadt April 12, 2010 at 5:03 pm

RT @MeaganFrancis: Cracking up at comments in @danigirl 's hand-me-down-undies post. Hd no idea ths was such hot topic! http://bit.ly/9325qd

52 carlahinkle April 12, 2010 at 5:56 pm

We hand-down a lot but NO undies! RT @Meagan Francis Cracking up at comments in @danigirl 's hand-me-down-undies post. http://bit.ly/9325qd

53 Karen April 12, 2010 at 8:17 pm

Interesting thread. We pass down within the family. Honestly, I thought about it before packing them away for dd #2, but they were in brand new shape- no stains, perfect elastic, etc. If I hadn’t seen dd#1 actually wear them I never would have known.

Now both girls seem to be holding steady in terms of growing, so they may all get worn out before I have to decide again. But for now I vote yes within the family. I haven’t had the opportunity in real life to consider used hand-me-down undies from outside the family, but I do feel a bit uncomfortable with the idea. Strangely enough my girls did both wear some used cloth diapers though, and that was less weird at the time. ๐Ÿ™‚

54 mapsgirl June 15, 2010 at 9:05 am

I hadn’t thought about it. My littlest was potty trained so much earlier than the older one that we don’t have undies to hand down to her. And right now they are 2 sizes a part. I’m not sure what we’ll do. I think that handing them down in a family should be okay. I’d never buy them second hand tho. Something doesn’t sit right with me.

55 Liz @ Peace, Love & Guacamole June 15, 2010 at 12:49 pm

I’m on the ick side of this…I know it makes perfect sense to keep them in the family, but I just can’t bring myself to save them. On a related note…I have a bag full of expensive (but certainly used) nursing bras that I don’t know what to do with. I feel weird even donating them somewhere.

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