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I can't get small things back. In my case, lunchbags, kit bags (just the bags not the stuff) and plastic containers. I know it's minor, and they're cheap to replace as my ex has shouted at told me, but it's not minor when DD is in tears because she has to take her packed lunch in a tescos bag.
For socks, my only tip is to buy them all the same, so you're not left with lots of odd ones.
I don't have this problem with casual clothes, as exH does buy stuff for DD - he apparently has exactly the same taste as a five-year-old girl, and they mutually delight in fluffy mules and princess tat. But it is a problem with school uniform - there seems to be some kind of black hole in his house that sucks down her school cardigans.
Send him a check list to pin on the fridge listing all the things that need to come back with them each time. Sounds like your ex is like mine, not doing it to be nasty, but just incapable of organising anything. A list has helped my ex.
How old is DD? My 9 year old's pretty good at remembering things for herself these days (though DS, who's 13 is still crap - must take after his dad ). Life has got more complicated as they've got older though - it's not just lunchboxes, but sports kit, musical instruments, homework, favourite clothing, etc that gets stuck at their dad's.
If he does forget I get the DCs to phone him themselve and ask him to drop the things round (though obviously not so good if you don't notice the lunchbox is missing until 5 minutes before she leaves for school....)
Sorry you're having a hard time - having problems with your ex being crap is always a lot harder at the times when you really need them not to be crap because you're relying on them.
Your tick box list sounds a good plan. If your ex is as rubbish easygoing as mine, he may not care that you're organising things for him effectively. If he might take offence you could always send it as the 'DC's list' - to help them remember what they need (and his job of course to help them do so)
Hmmm, well my twunt ex kept doing this. It was always something small but things like sleepsuits and socks etc that make you feel petty demanding them back but then he used to just ignore any requests to return. After he refused to return a rather lovely john lewis jumper which was part of a set after me begging him for 6 months (whilst dear son had grown out of it it was resellable), I rather fortunately found a VERY expensive jacket of his in my cupboard. After sending another request giving a deadline for the return, I sent a chirpy message saying that it wasn't a problem that he hadn't returned it, and let him know that I had located his expensive rab jacket and taken it to a charity shop. He then spent a whole saturday morning trawling around the smelly animal charity shops in town, sending me furious and increasingly disgusted messages before i let him know that I still had it. Priceless
There's a difference between exes who are careless and those who do it on purpose. Mine deliberately fails to return DD's reading book and journal to school, because he knows it really gets to me. I can't appeal to his concern for her education, because he'd rather get to me than care for her. I'm trying a strategy now of pretending not to care, while apologizing privately to the school, because I don't know what else to do.
When XH moved into his own home, I gave him a supply of pants, vests and socks for DD (was given a load by neighbour), a hairbrush, some conditioner and some sunscreen and some old clothes. A neighbour passed on wellies and trainers, so they went to his house too for spares. She also has a load of toys that she keeps at his house too.
Now she takes a suitcase with her every weekend with clothes that she wants to take, he washes the dirty ones and sends them back next time.
It is bloody annoying though when he forgets to send back her school coat or swimsuit, so I told him to buy his own and keep them there. He also bought her a toothbrush and pyjamas that stay at his house.
Ah this is familiar. My ex-h picks up my children from school so they are in their uniforms, and I give them a bag with clothes for Saturday - all their normal clothes - and somehow vests, pants, socks go missing, along with lunchbags, homework... and last week, my daughter's antibiotics didn't come home so her tonsilitis recurred (he left them at school Friday and I couldn't get her to the urgent care centre until Sunday).
I don't think it's deliberate,it's just sheer lazy incompetence. That's me being nice. Mostly I just want to call him a useless bastard and hope that him and t'other woman both die of horrible intestinal disorders! :-/