I have three children aged 11, seven and six. They are all in school and have different preferences when it comes to school shoe style, sports shoe style, water bottle style, colours, coloured pencils, pens, pencil cases, lunch boxes… Need I go on? Picture them — three gorgeous children, two of who have dimples, earnestly requesting obscure, difficult-to-find, and sometimes-expensive back-to-school products. And me — calmly negotiating with a promise (cough, bribe) to get them at least one obscure, difficult-to-find, sometimes-expensive back-to-school product.
The whole process could drive you mad, but I am a bit of an expert at the back-to-school shopping day now. Not to brag but it takes me one day, one shopping centre and one outing with the kids. In fact – and get ready to feel a bit sick – I actually enjoy the back-to-school shopping day.
Here are my top 6 tips for a stress free back-to-school shopping day:
1. Do it all in a day.
It’s a rookie error to stagger the back-to-school shopping over a number of days. Shopping centres during school holidays are not for the faint-hearted. You simply need to cram it all in one day. Get up early so you can park easily, start with coffee and hot chocolates all around and then head to the nearest and best shoe store to get your kids measured up for the school and sports shoes. Explain ahead of time your school’s individual requirements for school shoes. Our school needs the kids in hard-soled black shoes and “mostly white” sports shoes.
2. Don’t do it all with the kids.
The kids come along for the shoe shopping part because I need all their feet to be measured properly but after that it’s lunch, a quick stop by a stationary shop for a few personal choices and I do the rest without them, either later that afternoon or in the evening. In fact, it’s quite enjoyable to save the stationary shopping for late at night when all is quiet and you can think, and you can pick up a few sneaky things for yourself. It also helps to avoid that pesky problem whereby most stationary suppliers double as toy and confectionary shops.