It is that time again when the days are not all scorchers and the nights seem to creep up a bit faster than they did only weeks ago. We're also just a hop, skip and jump away from a new school year. I'm not sure about anyone else's kids, but I think mine grow faster in warm temperatures and sunlight. Or maybe the oppression of homework stunts their normal growth pattern. Either way when I have them try on clothes they wore in May I have to laugh because the pants are now high-waters, and the shirts don't completely cover tanned bellies.
Ah, hell, it's time to go shopping. And not fun shopping either. School shopping. With kids.
Remember back to when you took me up on my suggestions for changing out winter clothes for summer clothes? If you made a list of what is needed, now is the time to get it out of your calendar or whatever handy place you stored it. Bring it, paper, and pen with you to their room to finish prepping. If you have a separate bin or tote with clothes that are too big, go through it now. As a rule of thumb, kids should have at least 4-5 new pants to add to what will still fit and overlap with what will be outgrown by next June. This will also give you a break on doing laundry every few days because Mikey ran out of clean clothes. Girls might want skirts or dresses depending on their mood right now and of course, two minutes from now.
Tops are trickier if you live in bipolar weather like I do in Central New York. They can still wear their short sleeved shirts for the next few months but will need an assortment of long sleeved and fleece, sweaters, or sweatshirts depending on your child's preference. One son of mine will only wear sweats and fleece (God bless his little heart, he's just like me and thinks fleece is the answer to winter). For girls it's always about fashion so none of these rules will seem to apply. Take special notice of color schemes of what your little scholar wears that still fit and write it down or bring a special item with you when you shop to maximize outfit choices.
There should be a few 'nice' clothes, too, for school pictures (ours are within the first two weeks of the school year), church and those incidentals like Aunt Rita's impending 60th birthday party at that fancy restaurant.
Take inventory of the delicates like socks and underwear. Do they need t-shirts? How about bras? If they wear bras, they may need to be re-measured. Yikes. Then there are the heavy duty items like raincoats, jackets, sneakers, shoes and boots. I try not to overwhelm myself so I do overs and unders (outerwear and footwear) a different day. Just to be prepared though, check their current sizes in case you run into a marvelous deal while you're in the store.
Before you head out, what budget are you using? Do you have a special fund for this expense? Does each child have a limit? Some people need to rely on department store credit and pay on it monthly, some have a wad of bills and some just ch-ch-charge it! Whatever you do, have an idea of how much you want to spend or you'll wind up with fifteen bags of clothes and a maxed out card after the first outing.
Research first. Which stores are offering what your child likes and/or will wear at a great price? Are the colors of the clothes within the ROYGBIV spectrum or are they some unnatural color that doesn't exist in nature? Skip those even if they're practically free because that's why they're so cheap. Have one store you trust for quality and wear? Sometimes an awesome price is irrelevant when the product falls apart after the first wash.
Set the date. Okay, in one hand are the ads with items circled or highlighted, the personalized list and method of payment. In the other should be the car keys, sunglasses (for hiding your identity if your kid melts down), emergency chocolate, and maybe rosary beads. Oh yeah, before you leave make sure the wine is in the fridge so it’ll be nice and chilled when you return. You’ll need it.
Ready? Here we go.
Sometimes this can be done without the kids if they're really averse to going with you or they don't care. As impossible as it seems there are those who hate shopping. I have two myself and one is, surprisingly, female. If your offspring is amenable to trying on clothes [I am green with envy], so happy for you! Take advantage of a great item by buying two or several in different colors. Why reinvent the wheel? Try to go through the list without being sidetracked by pretty colors and large signs for things outside the school clothes theme.
Stop for lunch with your munchkin and enjoy some one-on-one time. After all, this is an intentional adventure where they have some control so it should be fun and give them a reason to socialize with you without being pressured. The satisfaction and pride that comes with crossing off the items you need at the price you picked is pretty thrilling, too.