Back-to-School Shopping

The back to school rush is one of the most hectic and stressful times of year for parents. As most are pressed for time and attempting to stick to a budget, all the back-to-school shopping expenses and tasks (clothes, new shoes, school supplies etc.) can seem overwhelming, especially when you have a whining child on your hands who most likely either detests shopping or wants everything in the store. There are a few tips and ideas parents can keep in mind to help maintain their sanity and ensure that their child gets what he/she needs without breaking the bank or spending the end of you summer in a constant rush back and forth to the mall.

  • Only shop at stores where you can really afford to stock up so that you and your child won’t be frustrated in stores where you can only buy one or two items.
  • If your child is age 10 or older, let her be in control of her own budget. Tell her how much she’s allowed to spend, and let her make the choices.
  • Stage a fall fashion show with your child to figure out which clothes she’s outgrown and should be given away.
  • Think about items that you need that you would rather not buy new. Who can you ask for hand-me-downs?
  • Check the status of sneakers and shoes for the fall.
  • When shopping for back-to-school clothes, have your child wear tight-fitting shorts and a top, so she can try the clothes on without going to the dressing room.
  • Mail-order catalogs can be time-savers. Have your child help pick out what he likes, and it saves you a shopping trip.
  • Try on new shoes in the evening, since feet can swell as much as half a size during the day.
  • Make sure your child can remove and pull on his own shoes. Velcro works wonders if your child has not yet mastered lace-tying.
  • Buy clothing that is easy to manipulate for using the bathroom at school. Zippered jeans might look adorable, but your child will be embarrassed if he needs to ask for help zipping them up and buttoning them closed. Elastic waist pants are the way to go in nursery school and kindergarten.

SAVING MONEY

  • Ask friends and family for hand-me-downs, and express your appreciation with movie tickets, homemade cookies, or an outfit for their older child.
  • Host a children’s clothes swap party. Invite neighbors, friends, and family to bring outgrown clothes, have everyone help sort clothes into piles by size, and then let selections begin. Donate the leftovers to a homeless shelter for children, an orphanage, or local charity collections for families in need.
  • Before ordering from a catalog, measure your child around his waist, crotch to ankle, waist to ankle, and around his chest. When you call, take advantage of a salesperson’s expertise, and ask how the store’s clothing sizes run.
  • Shop at retail sales in July and buy clothes for the coming year.
  • Avoid resentment over hand-me-downs by calling them "Preschool clothes" or "First-grade clothes."
  • Label everything so that your child's new $100 coat does not go home with someone else and stay in someone else's closet after being forgotten on a playdate.

About the Author:

A dynamic national speaker, consultant, corporate spokesperson, and writer, Stacy DeBroff is President and founder of Mom Central, Inc., a company devoted to providing pragmatic tips and advice to strengthen busy families and enhance the home environment. Stacy has written several best-selling books on household and family organization including The Mom Book Goes to School; The Mom Book: 4,278 Tips for Moms; Sign Me Up! The Parent's Complete Guide to Sports, Activities, and Extracurriculars; and Mom Central: The Ultimate Family Organizer.

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