The 20 Stages of Going Back-to-School Shopping With Your Kids
Remember when back-to-school shopping used to be superfun? Your mom would take you to the mall to peruse the offerings at Limited Too and the local department store, you'd stock up on Lisa Frank Trapper Keepers, a Swatch watch, and slap bracelets, then you'd celebrate your shopping success with a treat at the food court?
Well, stocking up for back-to-school is just a little different when you become the parent. While online shopping has made the experience less time-consuming, quickly growing kids — how did their feet grow two sizes in two months?! — and in-store sales make a trip to your local shopping center an inevitable evil. Too many options, crazy crowds, indecisive kids, and sticker shock all conspire to make school shopping an experience that's equal parts frustrating and funny (hey, you have to laugh or you might just cry!). Here are the 20 stages of back-to-school shopping with kids.
You Realize the Relaxed Nature of Summer Is Almost Over
You look at calendar and realize, sh*t, Summer is coming to an end. Where did the last three months go?! And does this mean you have to start wearing makeup and real clothes again?
Your Kids' Summer Wardrobes Are Looking Gnarly
Your Summer outfits might be questionable fashion-wise, but you take a look at your kids and notice they've been wearing the same two pairs of shorts, swimsuit, and three t-shirts all season long, and they are all looking worse for wear.
Nothing in Their Closet Fits Anymore
You head to their closets to check out the nice clothes you know they have, then realize all those dresses, button-downs, sneakers, and sweaters no longer fit. Greaaaat.
You're Not Totally Sure What Size Shoe They're In
No worries, you head to your computer to check out the online sales and restock their closets on the cheap. But, wait, what size shoe does your child actually wear now? You have no idea.
You Accept The Fact a Shopping Trip Has to Happen
It's decided. You're going to have to take your children to an actual store to shop. You let the reality wash over you, knowing that it's not going to be easy, and it's not going to be fun.
You Realize Just How Much Stuff They Need
You make a list of everything your kids need — backpacks, school supplies, shoes, clothes — and are terrified by how long it is.
You Make a Plan and Pep Yourself Up
You attempt to plan the quickest, most effective, cheapest route to getting everything you need (three stores max), and give yourself a pep talk. You got this, mama.
You Bribe Them to Be Well-Behaved
But just in case, you cover your bases with some bribery and threats. You tell them they get ice cream if they make the experience easy and lose their iPads/video games/screen time if they make it hard.
You Tell Yourself This Just Might Be Fun
You enter the first store with a hopeful smile, remembering the shopping trips of your youth. Maybe this will be fun.
Then See That the Store Is Filled With Other Kids and Desperate Moms
You quickly realize that every other mom with school-age kids is also in this exact store. This is not going to be the quick, chaos-free experience you envisioned.
You Try to Stay Positive
A sales associate tells you you'll have to take a number just so your kid can try on shoes, and while you quickly understand that this might the longest day of your life, you try to stay positive.
A Stranger Tells You Your Kid's Current Shoes Are Two Sizes Too Small
You finally get a salesperson to help you. She measures your kids' feet and informs you that they've been wearing shoes two sizes too small all Summer.
Everything Your Kids Like Is Sold Out
Every pair of shoes your kids like is sold out in the store. You spend an extra 10 minutes to track the right sizes down from other locations and have them shipped to your house. At least, you tell yourself, you won't have to carry bags.
One Kid Hates Shopping, the Other Can't Stop
You head to the clothing section, hoping to get each kid a pair of jeans, a couple of nonripped tees, and a jacket that fits. One child wants to try on the whole store; the other hates everything and is already complaining they want to go home.
You Finally Make Some Decisions
An hour and endless whining later, you force your reluctant shopper to pick one outfit and your shopping enthusiast to pare it down to two. At least they'll both have something to wear on the first day of school.
You Still Have One More Essential to Find
With shoes and clothes purchased, you move on to one last back-to-school essential: the backpack. After an excruciatingly long search, your kids decide they hate every backpack in the store you're currently in. You journey to the next shop.
Your Kids Spot the Toy Section
Your kids hate every backpack at the next store, too, but they have found three toys and a video game they say they desperately need. You pull them away from the toy section and head to another store to get back on track.
You're Too Tired to Care About Prices
You finally find backpacks that your kids deem acceptable. You decide you don't care that they're $60 each. You've had all you can take, and you'll pay anything to end this experience as quickly as possible.
You Agree to Ice Cream, as Long as It's Someplace You Can Also Get Wine
Your kids remind you about that ice cream promise. You search for restaurants that serve both ice cream and wine.
You Vow Never Again
You finally head home, promising yourself you'll do all of next year's back-to-school shopping online. Who cares if your kids' shoes fit perfectly?