Last week I shared my survival plan for back-to-school shopping, so now I’d like to share with you the results of our back-to-school giving. We’ve always donated outgrown clothes but this year, it was extra special for both the girls and me.
When the girls were younger, I used to sneak into their rooms and go through their closets and toys while they were visiting friends or running an errand with their Dad. This way there were no tears to influence me. It was easier and safer to do it by myself. Now days, I simply allocate more time because:
1. The girls now notice when things go missing. 😀
2. I want them to share and give openly, so they need to help.
This past weekend when we went through their closets, I had the biggest smile on my face. The girls were freely giving—no pouting or begging to keep a favorite outfit that no longer fit but was still deeply loved. Instead they were excited to share their clothes, particularly the clothes they would have previously wanted to keep.
They Better Understand the Purpose Behind Sharing
This year we had some great conversations around spending and sharing. They acknowledged the clothes they didn’t wear and were honest about why. Last Fall, Lauren absolutely had to have a pair of Converse sneakers that were only worn once or twice. She admitted she only wanted them because her friends had them and really didn’t like them.
While I am, of course, never happy about money spent on things they weren’t worn, the truth is we’ve all made that same mistake, sometimes repeatedly. What I want the girls to understood is the cost of those mistakes, which Lauren really got this year. By spending money on something she never really liked, she didn’t have money left in her budget for something she did want, which was an awfully high price to pay.
In an attempt to get some use out of the shoes, Lauren asked, “Should we save them for Taylor?”
Taylor replied, “No. I only wear pretty shoes.”
Now that’s a girl who knows what she likes!
There was a bit of hesitation in the girls the first time they put a favorite outfit in the donation pile. So I reminded them that keeping clothes they don’t wear hidden in their closet benefits no one. But somewhere, there was another young girl who would treasure it as much as they did.
This startled them because they had not thought about it that way. They shared because it’s what we taught them to do. They gladly shared some of clothes and toys that they had little attachment to, but there were a few things that were hard to let go. They never thought about someone else loving something they once loved as much as they did. The earlier hesitation was gone. They were ready to give freely and without regret.
My Values Are Their Values
As parents, we need to demonstrate, in both words and actions, the behaviors and values we want our kids to emulate. So twice a year I go through my closets and donate the things I no longer wear. Lauren and Taylor always help, which is so important. We ohhh and ahhhh and I always tell them the next owner will love the clothes even more than I did.
My mom was visiting the last time I went through my closet. She got first dibs and was thrilled to take a few of my pieces. Seeing how excited she was, helped drive home the message that keeping once loved clothes in the closet is a mistake. Giving clothes to others who can wear and love them feels good and does not rob you of your memories attached to a favorite outfit.
It Takes Time
I started talking to the girls about money around age 3, but the last two years I’ve spent more time explaining how we use our money and why. When they were younger, I wanted to make sure they always observed good financial behavior, now they are also ready to understand why good financial behavior matters.
Some money concepts may take a little time for your kids to understand and embrace while others they will grasp quickly. Be persistent and continue talking to them and demonstrating the behavior to them. All good things take time and helping them develop a healthy relationship with money is worth it.
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