Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => Family and Children => Topic started by: LilacGirl1983 on February 09, 2013, 04:35:39 PM

Title: Baby clothes
Post by: LilacGirl1983 on February 09, 2013, 04:35:39 PM
Hey I was wondering something and I was hoping you ladies could help me. One of my friends when she found out we were pregnant wanted to know what the baby was so she could give us her outgrown children's clothes of that sex since she wasn't having any more and no one else was pregnant. We found out and told her. We arrange to get the clothes since she lives elsewhere and when she was dropping off the clothes she said something about wanting them back when we were done..Which was news to me since she never mentioned that... Well I called to confirm since whenever I give something to someone which are hand me downs I don't expect them back. She said yes she wanted them back since her SIL was trying for a baby and she could pick them up if we didn't want them. I said we could use a lot of them but the ones we couldn't we can give back. Then I asked well what about when when we are done since we plan on more kids..well what she wants us to do is mark all of them so she can get them back after the baby outgrows them and if we have more then we buy our own...She originally said nothing about that and sounded happy to get rid of them due to storage...now I feel almost like we are being used for storage with the side benefit of getting some clothes to use for a short term basis. So each time baby out grows the set of clothes we have to ring her up and set up a time for us to drop off the clothes..she lives an hour a way.

I guess I was confused..and a little upset since I now have to go through the clothes and hopefully remember which are hers and which are ones I bought..my husband doesn't think anything of it..I thought I might have been a bit rude asking all the questions trying to clarify it..So what is the etiquette of giving hand me downs from friends? I am very grateful for the clothes just a bit mystified.
Title: Re: Baby clothes
Post by: Tilt Fairy on February 09, 2013, 04:46:01 PM
I think the best thing to do would be to try your hardest to separate her clothes from your clothes and just return the whole lot to her. It does seem unusual to ask for hand me downs back. Its not really a charitable gift but more a temporary item you can borrow to help you out. I wouldn't like it much either. But since she has told you this, I think it would be better, stress-free and better for piece of mind in the long run to not accept anything and just buy your own. Otherwise you'll be walking on eggshells with the clothes. That way there is no awkwardness. Maybe tell her that you can't guarantee that the clothes would remain unsoiled and you don't want to have to upset her by not being able to hand her clothes back in a good condition (babies are messy!). Even though the clothes may be helpful for you in the short term, with how attached this friend seems to be to these baby clothes and that her wording has indicated that 'the clothes are still her property' instead of an unequivocal gift to you, I think it would be better to just let this go. Otherwise it may lead to more upset on both parties further down the line.

At least if you buy your own clothes, you are not obligated to anyone. Just thank her and let it go. Return the whole lot.
Title: Re: Baby clothes
Post by: Sharnita on February 09, 2013, 04:46:21 PM
could you mark the tags or something to identify them?  and if your husband sees it in no big deal put him in charge of sorting and doing inventory.
Title: Re: Baby clothes
Post by: Harriet Jones on February 09, 2013, 04:49:28 PM
I'd just go ahead and return them all, rather than trying to mark them or keep them separate.
Title: Re: Baby clothes
Post by: delabela on February 09, 2013, 04:52:03 PM
Well, in my circle, there are clothes that have cycled through several babies, and have made their way back to the original owner.  And people try to get "speciality" items like coats back to who it came from.  But asking to mark them and return them as they are outgrown seems to be be more work than they're worth.  I'd just give them all back, no hard feelings, and do some secondhand store shopping.
Title: Re: Baby clothes
Post by: Thipu1 on February 09, 2013, 04:56:43 PM
This offer may sound generous but it's likely to be more trouble than it's worth.  When you have a new baby, the last thing you need to do is ride herd on every last bit of baby clothing. 

I would decline with thanks. 
Title: Re: Baby clothes
Post by: WillyNilly on February 09, 2013, 05:09:37 PM
It definitely sounds annoying.  But since she is ok with you marking them, I'd get a fabric marker and put an X on each item's tag now, or inside the collar.  It won't take long and its easy to do.  Then as your kid out grows them, just wash and chuck into a box.

I really wouldn't make a big deal over making arrangements to return them though.  You drove out to pick them up, right?  Well her SIL can drive over to you when its her turn - its easier for a pregnant person to pick something up then a for a parent to drop them off.
Title: Re: Baby clothes
Post by: LilacGirl1983 on February 09, 2013, 05:15:33 PM
Thanks. I wasn't sure if I was being annoyed for no reason or not..As for returning them I will need to do that the next time I see her..she dropped them off and on the way out the door literally said that...so I only caught 1/2 the message and had to call and clarify.
Title: Re: Baby clothes
Post by: Erich L-ster on February 09, 2013, 05:28:48 PM
I would give them all back ASAP too. Too many strings attached, deal changed after you had them, it could change again due to her whims.

Baby clothes are likely to be stained with food, poo, knees worn from crawling....who could realistically expect to get them all back anyway?
Title: Re: Baby clothes
Post by: peaches on February 09, 2013, 05:48:50 PM
This style of "lending" is unusual, but not unheard of. And I think it's more trouble than it's worth.

Some in DH's family do this, but they loan out baby equipment rather than clothing. I never took them up on it. It's too much trouble to remember who gave what and to worry about keeping it in pristine condition.

If you return the clothes, you can say "We figured out that we wouldn't need them after all. But thanks for the offer."

Babies and little kids don't need a ton of clothing. They grow so fast that it's not worth it to make a big investment. Buy a few things and wash frequently. And you can shop at garage sales and thrift stores, if money is an issue.

Title: Re: Baby clothes
Post by: mmswm on February 09, 2013, 05:58:19 PM
I'd pack them up and give them all back as soon as humanly possible.  Babies can be really hard on clothes and I would not want to be worried about keeping a bunch of hand me downs clean so they could be given back, let alone the stress of trying to keep those items separate from everything else.

Title: Re: Baby clothes
Post by: Just Lori on February 09, 2013, 06:34:35 PM
Three siblings in my husband's family had their first babies within six months of each other.  There was a lot of lending clothes back and forth, especially for those early months when babies seem to wear an outfit once or twice before moving into the next size.  We just put our initials on the tag.  When we were cleaning out the outgrown clothes, the tagged items went into a pile and went back to the original owner.  It really wasn't as hard as it sounds.
Title: Re: Baby clothes
Post by: snowdragon on February 09, 2013, 06:51:21 PM
I'd just go ahead and return them all, rather than trying to mark them or keep them separate.

This is what I would do.
Title: Re: Baby clothes
Post by: Tilt Fairy on February 09, 2013, 06:55:07 PM
I'd just go ahead and return them all, rather than trying to mark them or keep them separate.

This is what I would do.

Me too. Way too many strings attached. You really don't want someone hovering over you and breathing down your neck over the clothes they have "loaned" you, even if they do have good intentions.
Title: Re: Baby clothes
Post by: HoneyBee42 on February 09, 2013, 09:29:43 PM
I agree--I would just return them asap.  I've had things offered to me on that sort of "I want my stuff back after" and I have never accepted those offers. It just is more bother than it's worth--especially given that the OP is thinking of additional future children.
Title: Re: Baby clothes
Post by: Sophia on February 09, 2013, 09:52:29 PM
I would mark the tags and use them.  Even if you have to buy more for the next child, you'll be an experienced parent by then and will have a better idea what you will need.  You will be sorting through clothes periodically to put away the too small clothes.  In my toddler's bedroom in a corner, I have a plant stand where there has always been a cardboard box for that use.  I am continually throwing stuff in there.  You will just need to put a bag of some sort in the box, so that there will really be two batches of stuff there.  Otherwise the same. 
Title: Re: Baby clothes
Post by: Brisvegasgal on February 09, 2013, 10:47:03 PM
I would just give them back too. In my circle when baby clothes are handed on they are the property of the new baby's family.  No strings, no expectations.  I can, understand an expensive coat or something like that as a loaner though.
Title: Re: Baby clothes
Post by: m2kbug on February 10, 2013, 12:00:25 AM
My mother is classic in this area.  She expects you to return the gifts she gave when you no longer has use for them or you replace them.  This is incredibly rude.  You are definitely not in the wrong here.  When you give a gift, you no longer have any say in the matter on how it is used or where it goes.  I think in this case with this friend, I would collect all the baby clothes and give them back and be done with the ordeal.  If her gifts come with strings like that, you really don't want them.  If she prefered to give the hand-me-downs to her sister, she had no business giving them to you in the first place, and then tell you she wants them back?  Unbelievable.   :o
Title: Re: Baby clothes
Post by: cicero on February 10, 2013, 05:42:26 AM
I wouldn't say it's necessarily rude - it just sounds like you had a different understanding of what "baby cloths hand me downs" means.  she may not have said anything at the beginning because she thought it was understood that you give them back, while you understood that you don't.

when i got baby things for DS - one person did ask me for them back (but that was understood up front) and the rest told me to just use and pass on or toss. I did the same with DS's stuff - i gave it away no strings attached (and kept one or two things that i wanted to keep).

as things stand now - in your shoes - i would just give back the whole kit and caboodle now so you don't have to worry about it.
Title: Re: Baby clothes
Post by: Perfect Circle on February 10, 2013, 05:53:51 AM
I don't think there's anything rude about it. Your friend is doing you a favour and told you before you have started using any of her items. If you feel that it would be too difficult to keep the clothes apart just return them to her now.
Title: Re: Baby clothes
Post by: bonyk on February 10, 2013, 06:42:43 AM
Another vote for return.  What if baby stains too much of the clothing?  Are you going to be accused of 'ruining' it?  It sounds like you'll have to buy clothes for any future children, anyway.
Title: Re: Baby clothes
Post by: fountainof on February 10, 2013, 10:26:34 AM
My DD wore her clothes for a long time as she grew slowly so she got at least 3 months out of the baby clothes, so I guess I just cannot relate to using the same clothes for other kids.  I could see maybe jeans or a snowsuit lasting but sleepers, onsies, etc. all get stained, pill up so I don't see how they last more than 2 kids.  I would just give everything back to save the hassle as there may be a problem if some clothes are ruined.  Or use them and give them back and buy new for another kid.
Title: Re: Baby clothes
Post by: kudeebee on February 10, 2013, 11:05:21 AM
It probably would have been easier to have talked with her to find out what she had said before you unpacked the clothes and added them to the ones you had.  You didn't, but it is a good thing to remember the next time anyone offers you hand-me-downs, to ask if they are yours to use and pass on or if they are just loaning them and want them back.

I, too, would pack the clothes up and return them to her.  I would worry that if some are worn out or ruined or stained, that she will not be happy and could demand that you replace them.  I would not want to worry about that every time baby has on one of the borrowed outfits.  Also, the idea that she wants clothes returned everytime the baby outgrows them is interesting.  You could be returning clothes to her every month.

Too many conditions on the use of these clothes.  What if sil gets pregnant soon or her baby is bigger and grows into sizes that your baby has not worn yet?  You will be expected to give those clothes back asap.

I would rather have my own clothes--garage sale season will soon be here--and not have to worry about all this.  So, go through the clothes and pick hers out.  Then I would return them immediately.  Thank her for the offer of the clothes but that you and dh decided you just don't want to worry about keeping the clothes separate or ruining something, so you think it is best to return them.  If you don't want to drive two hours round trip, box them up and mail them to her--probably would end up being cheaper costwise and timewise in the long run.
Title: Re: Baby clothes
Post by: WillyNilly on February 10, 2013, 11:12:51 AM
I think, reading all these suggestions to return them straight away, you should talk to your friend.

I could see one of my friends asking for them back, but I know she wouldn't be hung up on specifics.  If a handful of the items got stained, or ripped, or otherwise worn out, no biggie, chuck it, and if items got mixed up, so be it.  She would just mean "pay 'em forward to keep the chain moving, I'd like the next recipient to be" more then "these exact clothes".  Sure she'd expect some of the items to make it through your kid to the next, but she wouldn't be hung up on details, or expect all of them would.

So talk to your friend and see if she means "all of them" or if she just means "pay them forward".  If she means "pay them forward" you can reasonably expect to get some back yourself, once her SIL's kid outgrows them and you are onto #2.  If she really means all of them, or if you aren't comfortable with her SIL being in your chain, then I agree its too much hassle and you should just be done with them before even starting.
Title: Re: Baby clothes
Post by: SingMeAway on February 10, 2013, 02:03:47 PM
She really should have told you all the "loan" when she first brought it up. I too would be kind of irked and also concerned about using them if there was a need/expectation that another person use them. My son drooled/spit up on everything when he was a baby and alot of the stuff was thrown out because it was just too stained and yucky looking to pass on.

If you decide to keep and use the stuff, I think another conversation might be in order about how you're concerned that some things may not be usable by the time you're done with them and then see what she says. Also, what happens if the SIL has a baby while you're still using the items (I realize that's unlikely, but what if), will your friend be expecting them to be returned immediately?
Title: Re: Baby clothes
Post by: lilfox on February 10, 2013, 04:39:52 PM
Two things stand out for me:
1) your friend wants the clothes back at some point to pass on to her sister
2) you are planning to have more children

I vote to return the clothes (maybe keep a few basics if there are a lot of duplicates, since that is in the spirit of the gift/loan) now vs. later, and to stock up yourself.  As mentioned, babies tend to be hard on clothes, but you will still end up with quite a few you can keep for future babies and not worry about sorting/giving back/waiting for the cycle of hand-me-downs to begin again.

I got a lot of hand-me-down clothes when I had a baby.  None of the givers put a condition on the clothes/items, what they did was retain what they wanted to keep for others (for current or future babies), before handing things off to me.  If your friend really wants to preserve things in good enough shape for her sister's future baby, she needed to do this herself, not pass the burden onto you.
Title: Re: Baby clothes
Post by: gramma dishes on February 10, 2013, 05:07:53 PM
I would pack them up and return them right now.  (Since she has made it clear that you are going to have to bring them to her rather than "someday" her sister coming to get them from you.)

As many others have already pointed out, there is no way to know which clothes are going to make it through another baby and which ones are going to be stained, torn, have snaps pull out, etc. 

She isn't really giving you the clothes.  She's loaning them to you. 

But what she's really doing is using your house as storage space for stuff she wants to keep.   :-\
Title: Re: Baby clothes
Post by: Outdoor Girl on February 10, 2013, 05:14:41 PM
I could see loaning a couple of special articles, like a pretty Christmas or party dress but all the clothes?  That's just crazy.  It would completely stress me out trying to keep the loaned clothes identified to give back.

I agree with the others who suggest you give her all the clothes back now.
Title: Re: Baby clothes
Post by: Otterpop on February 10, 2013, 11:11:11 PM
Both my daughters had unpredictable poo explosions that stained a lot of their clothing.  It would be too much to stress over getting the clothing "pristine" again for the original owner.  I also vote for returning them.  In my experience hand me downs are never expected back.  Whatever survives is handed down again.
Title: Re: Baby clothes
Post by: CatFanatic on February 11, 2013, 12:56:56 AM
Another vote for returning them all now. Too much responsibility for items which are likely to be damaged.

While I don't think it's rude to expect them back, I do think it's pretty weird. I've never heard of anyone doing that.

OP, go to your local charity shop - the ones here have beautiful, barely used kids' items at very low cost.
Title: Re: Baby clothes
Post by: BeagleMommy on February 11, 2013, 11:26:58 AM
POD to those who've said to give them back.  There are too many strings attached and I think I would become nervous about keeping them in good shape.
Title: Re: Baby clothes
Post by: TootsNYC on February 11, 2013, 12:19:22 PM
OP, I don't think you're way off base to be a little annoyed. She has been changing the terms of her offer as time goes along. That's annoying, to have the ground change under your feet.


She isn't really giving you the clothes.  She's loaning them to you. 

But what she's really doing is using your house as storage space for stuff she wants to keep.   :-\

yeah, and that would annoy me too.
Title: Re: Baby clothes
Post by: Eeep! on February 11, 2013, 02:42:07 PM
When my SIL had my nephew 3 months after my son was born, I started passing on his clothes to her and I would put his initials on the tag/collar so that she could give them back to me when he outgrew them as they weren't planning on having anymore and we were.  HOWEVER, we discussed this ahead of time plus I held on to any clothes that I really cared about and the assumption was totally that some of them likely wouldn't make it back to me. Eventually my nephew caught up and passed my son is size so that ended. :)

That said, I think my situation is completely different than yours.  There was no rush for her to get anything back to me as we were talking distant future. And I honestly didn't care all that much what came back or didn't, since I held onto the ones that mattered to me.  And our kids go to the same daycare so passing the clothes back and forth was just a matter of leaving them there for the other to pick up.  (And I ended up getting the good end of things because, in addition to my son's clothes, she would also pass along my nephew's clothes. So when my now 8-month old was born, we had TONS of clothes! Way more than one baby could wear. heh.)

My arrangement with SIL aside, I think that if I were in your situation I would probably pack everything up and return it. It seems like it is probably more trouble than it's worth. And I would be really annoyed about the added strings to the "giving" after I had agreed to take them.  It really does read as she just didn't want to have them hanging around her house.
Title: Re: Baby clothes
Post by: Cami on February 11, 2013, 03:01:15 PM
I agree with the majority -- this gift has too many strings. I'd also worry about what would happen if my kid irretrievably damaged some items. Would she expect me to replace it? Too much trouble.
Title: Re: Baby clothes
Post by: Lynn2000 on February 11, 2013, 03:38:18 PM
Gonna go with the majority... I don't think anyone was necessarily rude--the two of you were just coming at the situation with different expectations. But now that you know her expectations and they seem somewhat onerous to you, it might just be easiest to pack up all her clothes and give them back. You can just tell her thanks and that you realized you didn't need them after all. Personally I wouldn't want that extra stress of keeping track of someone else's stuff and wondering if it was in good enough condition to give back so yet another person could use it.
Title: Re: Baby clothes
Post by: Ceallach on February 11, 2013, 09:53:28 PM
Both my daughters had unpredictable poo explosions that stained a lot of their clothing.  It would be too much to stress over getting the clothing "pristine" again for the original owner.  I also vote for returning them.  In my experience hand me downs are never expected back.  Whatever survives is handed down again.

I agree!  I imagine I'd probably not bother using them as I'd be acutely aware of the need to keep them in good condition.   Way too much hassle. 

We got boxes of baby clothes from a relative, and I did check to make sure they were happy for us to dispose of them as we saw fit.   I had no intention of keeping them all sitting in my house and they weren't all suitable for our baby due to size/gender/time of year etc.     If they had said they wanted them back I would have returned most of them immediately rather than have to worry about it down the track. 
Title: Re: Baby clothes
Post by: magdalena on February 12, 2013, 05:30:39 AM
I do this exact thing with one friend.

Our kids are 9 months and a couple of dress sizes apart.

I inherited a bunch of baby clothes from my siblings (5 nieces and a nephew) and she got another bunch from her sister. My daughter wears a lot of her niece's clothing, her son a lot of my nephew's. Or things like snowsuits, sleeping bags, onesies... We've marked the tags and things go back and forth as the kids grow.

It works for us, as we each only have one person loaning and all the rest are hand me downs we get to keep. Not too much hassle and we both know that things might be returned stained or forever be lost. And that's ok and we each keep the things we really want to have as keepsakes.

ETA:
So, no I don't thin she was rude. It would've been better to be very clear from the start that she was loaning, not gifting you those clothes. And, you can decide to either keep track of them and use them, then return or return them right away if it's too much hassle for you.