Back-to-school means rounding up the kids to do a little clothes shopping. Often, they’ve sprouted up a couple inches since they last wore fall clothing and you will need to replenish their wardrobe with a little bit of everything. Despite having one child who majors in speed shopping and another who has very definite opinions about what she wears, we’ve made back-to-school shopping a relatively painless experience in our house.
I always spend some time in the summer going through all the kids’ clothes and shoes. I weed out the things they’ve outgrown, take a look at the clothing in larger sizes that they have waiting in the wings, and make a list of what we need to buy. This way, I know what they need and don’t spend time online or at stores buying things haphazardly.
Oh yes, online shopping. It’s fantastic! I stick to stores that offer low or, preferably, free shipping. I also like places that allow me to return anything that doesn’t work out to the store, as opposed to having to mail it back. I know some stores pick up the cost and provide you with a shipping label but I’ve had a couple major delays using that method so in-store returns are a huge bonus. I subscribe to my favorite stores so I know when they’re having big sales. And, this is a big one, I try to only take advantage of the sales when the kids actually need something – otherwise, that “sale” is not actually saving me any money. Online shopping is also perfect if rounding up the kids and heading to the mall is on the chaotic side or if you have a reluctant shopper, like my son.
My kids always need a pair of both indoor and outdoor shoes for school. Inevitably, the ones they were just wearing a couple months ago are now too small or have worn out over the summer. I also think ahead to the winter season when they will likely need new boots. Once school begins (and for us, hockey season!), life gets very busy, so I buy their footwear now while our pace is more relaxed. I’m always thankful we’re prepared when the first snowfall hits.
By about mid-summer, many stores are putting their summer clothing on sale. This is a great time to buy things for next year, as long as you can accurately predict what size your kids will be wearing. I find it difficult to buy shoes ahead of time because my kids can soar through sizes quickly at times, but I do often find shorts, shirts, and swimsuits at fantastic prices. I’ll admit, I feel excited when next summer rolls around and I can pull out a stack of new clothing that I didn’t pay full price for! Ditto for fall and winter clothes that seem to go on sale earlier and earlier, sometimes before the snow has even melted.
The other great thing about mid-summer sales is that the kids can pick out their first day of school outfit. Now, this is not so exciting for my son but my daughter is all over it. I warn her not to be drawn in by all the fall clothing in store windows because most likely, we will still have warm weather when school begins. No need for jeans and a sweater. She is already set this year with a new skirt and top for her first day back.
We are really fortunate to have friends that we do a clothing swap with. They pass down their daughter’s clothing to ours and we pass down our son’s clothing to theirs. It’s perfect. Our daughter is always super excited to receive clothes and the neat freak in me is always super excited to move the things our son has outgrown out of the house. Plus, our arrangement cuts back significantly on the amount of clothes and shoes we need to buy for at least one of our kids.
How does back-to-school shopping go at your house? Do you have a budding fashionista, like my daughter, who loves to shop? Or a reluctant shopper, like my son, who would rather be doing other things? Do you have any tricks of the trade to share with us?
Written by: Erin Agnello
Edited & Designed by: Jamie Schmalenberger
My name is John Haber. I’m a Pediatric Occupational Therapist and the founder of Nogginsland. I became a COTA in 2003, and then went back to school much later, receiving my Master’s Degree in OT from Mercy College in New York in 2016.
Over the years, I’ve worked with a variety of populations in different settings, from school districts, to developmental disability centers, to children’s hospitals.