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Back-to-School Shopping Blues

By Patti Chadwick



Well, it's that time of year again...time for back-to-school shopping. For a parent of teens, this can be a very time consuming, as well as expensive, task. I've got three teenagers and sometimes the thought of this annual event can make me cringe!

Actually, my boys are relatively easy to shop for. My oldest will even trust me to pick out certain items for him, if they are from the right store! My youngest, who is now 15, is a clothes-horse, but he's still pretty easy to please. When I head to Wal-Mart or the mall with these guys, I know that I can hit a few stores and be home in a few hours.


My daughter is another story. Shopping with her is, well, umm, let's say it is an adventure. From the time she was a child she was very particular about her clothes. Things had to fit "just right" and many items (especially socks and stockings) were often faulted as being "itchy". And as for shopping for blue jeans, well, lets say that I'd rather visit the dentist for a root canal. We could spend a whole day looking for the allusive jeans with just the right "feel". By the end of the day I'm likely to be wearing a very frazzled look with a temper to match. "That 100th pair of jeans look PERFECT on you.. buy them or else!"

Now, let's talk stores. Since she was a pre-teen clothes had to be bought at certain stores or they wouldn't be worn. My daughter soon learned that if she wouldn't get clothes from Wal-Mart, she had better save her own money - and look for bargains in the Mall stores if she were to have any new school clothes for the year.


At first it used to bug me that she would spend $20 on a plain shirt with some designers name sprawled across it. She'd even spend $25 - $30 on a pair of jeans - geesh - that's my whole winter wardrobe! But I came to realize that if she wanted to save her money to buy these more expensive items, it was really her choice. Every year I give her a certain amount of money for school clothes that fits our family budget and anything above that she has to come up with.

At first she would moan and groan about how unfair it was that she had such a small amount of money to work with when OTHER parents bought their kids whatever they wanted. *tear*. Soon she learned that she had to suck it up and deal with it. Either she saved her own money to add to the school clothes budget, settled for shopping at the local department stores, or she started school with a pair of designer jeans, two shirts, and a pair of sneakers.

Over the years, I must admit that my daughter has become and expert bargain shopper. She still shops at the Mall, but now she shops the sales and clearance rack. I've even seen her pass by a "must-have" item because she couldn't justify spending that much of HER money on one piece of clothing!

Well, time is running out and I've planned our annual event. I have been practicing my breathing exercises meant for keeping my blood pressure from rising as I wait patiently for my kids to get the "right look". My daughter has been working this summer and saved her money to add to her allotted funds and I've even budgeted money for lunch! I plan on making this day and "event". And you know what the icing on the cake is? My daughter ALREADY found her blue jeans! Ahhhhh..life is good isn't it?


Patti Chadwick is the creator of Family Tymes the online magazine that provides encouragement for  today's busy family.  She is also the creator of History’s Women, an online magazine highlighting the extraordinary achievements of women throughout history.

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