- Use "play" clothes
- Mark clothes for younger kids
- Don't make it a huge issue
- Plan ahead for special occasions
Unfortunately kids clothes can be an issue for many divorced parents. It can often be a tool for control but the only person hurt by this tussle is your child. Here are some ideas to avoid this problem.
If you are co-parenting you need to decide if both parents will keep sets of clothes or if one parent keeps most of the clothes. Work out who pays what for clothes and who actually shops for the clothes. As kids go back and forth between houses, so do their clothes. If they are staying overnight you need a clean set of clothes for the next day. Decide if one parent supplies those or if you will change them into clothes you supply.
The biggest issue comes up when clothes go from one house to another and are not returned. You can mark clothes so it is clear to which house they belong so they can be sorted and returned easily. If clothes are damaged and cannot be worn, return your child dressed in fresh clothes and let the other parent know about the worn out clothing in a polite way. You will have to be tolerant though because its inevitable that clothing will move around. Don't send your child over in clothes you are not prepared to lose. Socks and underwear are the most likely to get lost.
Kids will get dirty so make sure you have a spare set of clothes clean and ready to go. This way you can wash the set that get dirty and return them. Keep a set of "play clothes". Kids will be kids and end up getting dirty and damaging clothing. Keep a set of clothes that can get dirty or damaged without it being a big deal.
Put your kids first
Don't put pressure on your kids to track clothing and ask for clothing back etc. Do this directly with the other parent instead. All parenting matters should be dealt with directly and not through the kids. Decide if it is a big enough deal to get into a discussion with your ex or if it would be better for everyone to replace some clothes. The good news is that kids will become more responsible for their clothes as they grow older.
Clothing for special occasions
Decide in advance how you are paying for the outfit for a special occasion. There is no fixed rule and you can share the cost however you like unless you have a written agreement covering this. This is likely to be a happy occasion for your child so err on the side of being generous and being flexible.
Clothes for teens
Teens are better able to look after their own clothes but are often also very sensitive to how they look and what brand clothes they wear. Clothes for teens can be quite expensive and so some parents have quite a bit of difficulty buying clothes and having them go to the other home. It is natural for your teen to see the clothes at both homes as theirs regardless who bought them. Working out an arrangement that reflects this view will often work best for everyone.
Try to see the situation from the other parent point of view. They will not know the details of what goes on in your house, only what they see. Take the high road and head off any possible flash-points such as dirty clothes or worn out or too small clothing.