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To be frugal you have to be organized and other musings

May 11th, 2014 at 11:33 pm

A thought occurred to me today, when I was younger, I was much more frugal. I had a lot less "stuff" too. I remember fondly sorting, repairing, shining, and putting away items for their use. Now we have so much, to keep track of all of it, is an almost Herculean task.

Back then I had one child and she had a ton of stuff to herself. I remember she had enough clothes that without washing, she could go a month before all her clothes were dirty. She had a closet full of toys. She had her own bed room. She had 6 pairs of shoes. I didn't pay a dime for all of this as grandma bought all of it. I saved every outfit, toy, bottle, cloth diaper set, bed, pair of shoes, coat and bed spread as my number of children grew.

Due to this, for my first three children, until the eldest was six, I never had to buy a single solitary thing. As the eldest grew, I barely had to buy anything for her, because of grandma. I saved every single thing from when she was small and in due time, her sisters would grow into it and use it. When the youngest girl used it, out it would go if it was less than perfect. This was perfectly fine, until I had sons.

When I had sons, grandma had passed on. We were still living on the gifts she had given a decade or more prior. Although not everything made it to the fourth daughter, enough of it did that I rarely had to buy a single necessity for her in a year. We had no one to bestow a treasure trove of clothes upon us for the boys. I didn't know what to do. I hated seeing a perfectly good wardrobe go to waste too.

I decided that up until a certain age, a boy and a girl look the same, so wearing pink shirts or shorts wouldn't make a difference to anyone, least of all the baby. I tried to dye the less girly things a more boyish color, but a lot of items are just cut for a girl. It was when my son, wearing the cutest pink shorts and shirt set, with long curls, came running up to me with a lady following behind calling, "Come here little girl" that I realized I was dead wrong. I hadn't accounted for other people calling my son a girl.

I politely informed her that he was a boy. We talked about the short set he had on and why he wore pink. I explained I never dreampt I would have a boy due to hormonal issues and that I hated that his sisters perfectly fine clothes would go to waste. I informed her the outfit was at least 10 years old as his eldest sister wore it and I saved clothes from previous children. I also said grandma bought the clothes for the girls and we didn't have the disposable income she did. I did not plead poverty, just that there was a difference between mine and my late mother in laws ability to pick up 6 outfits a week. She seemed genuinely amazed at my ability to save clothing for a decade. She also said she would like to get him an outfit someday. Is said fine, if she felt that way. I never in my wildest dreams imagined she would even remember us after leaving the park that day.

About a week later, her aunt came up to me and handed me two cute boy outfits and told me it was form her niece. I was floored. First that she remembered, second that her aunt knew who I was, and third that she actually went through with getting him some clothes. I felt truly ashamed as well. She must have thought we were too poor to get him clothing. It made me think about society and what people assume based on the colors a person wears. It made me realize hat gender roles are hard lined into our society and that as a practical matter, using old clothes from the wrong gender, can send a very bad message even if it is thrifty. I thanked her aunt profusely.

Driving home I swore my sons would never have to wear girl clothing again. I also swore to keep the outfits she gave for as along as possible, just as I did the girls. I still have them. My youngest son just grew into them. Once he is done wearing the clothing she gave, I will give them to a local charity because I am no longer having children. They have lasted almost 9 years so far. I still have a few baby girl outfits put up in boxes too, but these are saved for my grandchildren. Only those items which are pristine have been saved. Enough for a start so far. My eldest daughter is dating and talking about getting married and I still have many of her outfits from when she was a baby. That's organized and frugal.

4 Responses to “To be frugal you have to be organized and other musings”

  1. CB in the City Says:

    It's funny how gender lines are drawn by society. My older son, who wore nothing but boy clothes from day one, was consistently mistaken for a girl because his face was so pretty. My younger son was never mistaken for a girl (and of course he wore the same boy clothes). He had a more virile look from the start. Both are now handsome men with no girly afteraffects. Smile

  2. Joan.of.the.Arch Says:

    This is the way many families used to clothe their children. Nowadays it is almost an oddity to really rely on hand-me-downs. In addition clothes would pass back and forth among cousins....My son wore his girl cousin's hand-me-downs up to about size 3-4. After that, her clothing was becoming too stereotypically girly. Even on a solid color sweatshirt, there tends to be the give-away gathering at the shoulders that says, "girl".

    My sister-in-law once told me that where her family lived, there still lingered a very strong pre-European Pacific Islander ethic. There often was little discrimination as to whose shoes, sweater, hat, etc was whose. Out at the sports or play ground if a kid needed to put back on some article of clothing, they simply grabbed (and went home with) whatever was nearest to hand. Last kid to leave simply used whatever was left. No one complained, "Hey, that's my jacket." Every jacket, shoes, shirt, etc was for anyone who needed and could wear it.

  3. aukxsona Says:

    @CB in the City: Yes, my daughters have been called boys before, when dressed head to toe in pink. My second eldest especially would be called a little boy. Now she is a beautiful young lady.

    @Joan.of.the.Arch: It's funny you should mention that. When I was little in my favorite foster home that's how it worked. All the big ones helped the little ones and no one owned anything, "WE" owned it. If it fit, you wore it. That is how it worked.

    Later on when I got to know everyone in the community, it was the same. You left your jacket, no big deal, Maria's little cousin needed it and another person handed you one to wear. I loved this foster family, but it was only a temporary home.

  4. Joan.of.the.Arch Says:

    That's interesting, aukxsona. Would you consider a reflective blog entry about how that worked, what it felt like, the practicality of it? I wonder if other bloggers here have any similar experiences....For me, I can only think of how my sibs and I tended to own many toys in common. All the Lincoln logs and Legos belonged to all, as did the chess & checker sets, the board games, the coloring books. Sports items seemed to have been shared freely, even if one kid was the "owner". So we might ask, "Where is the baseball bat?" NOT "Where is Ann's baseball bat?" NOR "Ann, may I borrow your baseball bat?" Bikes were more singularly owned, but even then, if my bike had a flat and Mark wasn't using his, he'd let me use it.

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