Nothing lasts forever: Hand-me-downs, frying pans, and life in general

I like the efficiencies of a well-run household. That means that, with four boys, we have quite a hand-me-down operation going. The 3-year-old is wearing a few of the shirts and pajamas that the now-16-year-old wore back in the day! We measured everyone’s feet for snow boots and are able to pass down at least three pairs to the next kid in line. My little guy has just outgrown a snowsuit that not only did my older kids wear, his cousins wore it before that!

Everyday pants are another matter. I had high hopes. We’d boxed up several 4T pants, but looking at them now, I see how many have holes somewhere, or the waistband elastic has lost its stretchiness through the passage of time. So I gave up and bought my little guy six new pairs of sweatpants to get him through winter.

Sometimes things last, and some things don’t. I don’t think it’s even always about quality – I’ve had some cheap shirts last through several children, and some of the pants that fell apart were among the nicer of the children’s clothes that we own. With heavy use, eventually a lot of things just fall apart. And nothing lasts forever.

I’ve been trying to make my peace with this. I am a chronic under-buyer and I don’t like the idea that daily life items eventually reach the end of their life cycle. I recently bought a 4-pack of new wool socks from Amazon after I realized all of my existing wool socks had holes or had worn thin on the bottom or the heel. I guess in my mind socks should last more than 10 years! In general, they don’t. I also replaced all my underwear with this brand. (Based on the Wirecutter recommendation.) Let’s just say it was time.

I also realized I wrote this ode to well-fitted bras…seven years ago. That was the last time I replaced any of those. Perhaps it is time there too.

But in the meantime, next up on the list is our daily cookware. My frying pans are all scratched and harder to clean now. So I bought one fairly inexpensive pan that came well-recommended. (Wirecutter again!) The pans have to work hard. I often use the pans 2-3 times per day, since I work from home and cook my own breakfast and lunch. I guess they don’t last forever.

Then, perhaps, pillows. I’m not sure the average life expectancy of pillows but we have definitely surpassed it on some of them…

Of course, nothing lasts forever in a larger sense too. I feel sad sometimes as the brilliant October leaves fall and the drab gray-brown takes over for the next four months. That said, sometimes the fact that nothing lasting forever is a good thing. Some of the last year’s school problems have disappeared this year. Others may be taking their place. But I guess we don’t worry about the same thing in perpetuity…

What long-time items have you had to replace?


20 thoughts on “Nothing lasts forever: Hand-me-downs, frying pans, and life in general

  1. Big appliances such as washers, dryers and refrigerators don’t last very long these days. But I have a freezer in our basement that has been going strong since 1986……..Natori is a great brand. Some of their stuff goes on sale each year during the Nordstrom half yearly sale.

    1. @BethC – will be watching for that yearly sale! Though I did buy 9 pairs so I am probably OK for the moment…

  2. Natori is my go to for bras + underwear though also like lululemon underwear (and socks!)
    I LOVE the caraway home pan we got when they sponsored us and use it constantly. and this post is timely for me because ‘nothing lasts forever’ can be applied to many things relevant to me right now (pain, injuries, call week, etc!)

    1. @SHU – I do like my Caraway cookie sheets and casserole pan! I just thought I’d try this fry pan since it was so well recommended (and cheap for this kind of thing).

  3. Sofa cover. I tossed our beloved yellow sofa cover since in addition to all the miscellaneous spots (e.g. chocolate yogurt from the daughter who’s now 17) and the broken zipper that mandates placement against a wall, it developed a hole in one of the arms. Sigh… We even called the room it was in the yellow room, but now it’s blue — like I am.

    1. @Maureen – oh no, the yellow room isn’t yellow anymore! That has to be jarring. We did manage to keep our old bed by giving it to the 12-year-old, who spray painted it white. So almost 20 years now on that one. It’s fun to see things just keep going…

  4. …and then there’s planned obsolescence to keep the consumer-driven economy churning. The turquoise-blue clothes dryer I grew up with dated back to my grandparents in whichever decade turquoise appliances were in vogue (perhaps the 1960s?), back when appliances were still built to last. The only reason my mom had to replace the whole dryer over 50 years later was because Maytag no longer manufactures replacements for the one tiny part the repairman said was the only thing wrong with it.

    I think it’s all these fancy coatings on modern pots and pans that wear out so quickly, isn’t it? All my plain old-fashioned cast-iron, stainless steel, and aluminum pots and pans have been handed down in my family through 2 or 3 generations and are still going strong. The only pots and pans I’ve ever had to discard or replace were those with some kind of “non-stick” coating. As someone who hates shopping as much as Laura, I find it easier to season, grease, and clean old-fashioned pots and pans properly than to have to replace newfangled ones continually.

  5. Natori is my go-to as well. They are always included in the Nordstrom Anniversary sale – so I refresh once a year if any need to be replaced. My pillows are also SO old. I saw some during the recent Prime Day sale with great reviews, but I hated them (and they weren’t inexpensive). So, instead, I bought pillow covers to hide how old and discolored our pillows are… they are just so comfy. I love buying Patagonia because it lasts forever, and I can pass it from my son to my daughter and we’ve gotten good use out of the crocs rainboots (although I can’t say they get that much use here in Santa Barbara). We drive our cars forever – we finally had to replace our 2006 Honda Civic this year. I need a new mattress – ours was purchased in 2008, but I’m worried a new one won’t be as comfortable.

    1. @Jaimie – we’re replacing the 2014 van this fall – the new one should arrive soon. Then my 2011 Acura is next – more because I’m giving it to my 16-year-old to drive and I get something new. Unsure what it will be yet! But I figure 13 years (beginning of 2024) is pretty good as these things go…

  6. “Nothing lasts forever
    But this is getting good now.” 🎶
    -Taylor Swift!

    Hand-me-downs make me feel like there is continuation. Continuance, is that a word people use?
    Pauses and then bursts of use.

    I don’t like the idea of getting rid of the smallest clothes. Maybe no one does and that is why they are endlessly recycled amongst relatives and friends.

    1. @Courtney – oh gosh, now I have that song in my head. Though, fun fact — it was in the concert and NOT in the movie. They took about 5 songs out to keep run time under 3 hours apparently…

  7. Chronic under-buyer here, too. I was just reflecting on the absolute magic of buying an extra dozen pairs of socks for my daughter. It’s a little thing, but I’m no longer throwing in a last-minute load of laundry just for socks. So, yes the extra $30 was well worth it!

    I am just coming to terms with the fact that my Hunter boots can’t be salvaged. After 12+ years of steady use, the soles are worn and the material is breaking down in a way that they can’t really be waterproofed anymore, which is the whole point of having the boots … And yet, I keep putting it off.

    One thing that trips me up: SO MUCH CHOICE thanks to online shopping. The last time I bought boots, I drove to REI and bought the pair of boots they had in my size. Now I find myself reading reviews, considering colors and heights and prints, debating whether a pricier pair is worth it or not …

    Maybe that’s why I end up mostly buying things when it is actually urgent. We get new pillows and towels before house guests arrive, and I’ll end up rush-shipping that pair of new boots before a big outdoors event with rain in the forecast …

    1. @Abby – yep, a lot of our new sheets and pillows get purchased right before we have house guests. Somehow it’s fine for us to sleep on gross and mis-shaped pillows…

    2. Oh the boots and leaving it until the bitter end! I have done this a few times in particular with winter boots and being in Canada I really just have learned I have to get rid of leaky or broken boots at the end of the season or I WILL try to wear them again once the cold air hits ‘just until i go get new ones’ which is basically never.

  8. We just replaced our Ikea bed after 10 years and 3 moves (it had to be dis/reassembled each time… without the original directions). The drawers were breaking, there was a small hole in the wood frame from the last time we put it back together and… let’s just say it was missing more than a few screws by this point. We definitely got our $300 (or whatever we paid at the Red Hook Ikea in 2013!) worth out of it 🙂

    The new bed (from Pottery Barn) was much more expensive and, it turned out, a much bigger hassle vs. grabbing the latest Ikea model. After an initial delivery estimate of 2 weeks, shipping dragged on almost 2 months and …. included one delivery mishap in which it arrived without the legs and had to be disassembled by the crew and brought back to the warehouse. BUT I love it! And I bought two new pillows, a new set of sheet and a duvet cover (finally went for the white I have long coveted now that our senior dog can’t go up stairs/bed to dirty it) to replace the ratty old one. Woohoo!

  9. I really resonated with this one also as an underbuyer. The other day I finally broke down and bought a new umbrella as i realized that I am indeed the one responsible for re-stocking these things when the others have all broken or gone missing. It’s annoying. Trying to be better but it takes effort.

  10. It takes someone in my home being sick before I will buy pillows! Next up on our list is our den couch. It’s lasted four years, which seems like a lot given that I have a toddler and a preschooler. My husband and I had talked about replacing it for Christmas but hadn’t decided. Then last week someone took a black Sharpie and wrote, as my husband said, “vigorously” all over on the couch cushions. Decision made!

  11. I am an underbuyer on toiletries. I’ve been known to have the same bottle of body shampoo for 4+ years, hairspray for 5+ years. It’s helped that I now get a lot of new toiletries from joining a neighborhood Buy Nothing group that rotates a bin of each other’s half-used toiletries so I feel less attachment to using up that one bottle. Things still work as they are intended.

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