Back to school. This is a time of year that comes with mixed emotions- many moms cry on the first day of school. Me? I cheer and crack open a bottle of bubbly to celebrate both my children’s independence AND my independence!
GETTING to that first day of school, though, does take quite a bit of prep work. If you have kids that are still struggling to buckle their own seat belt, need immediate bathroom stops, and tend to melt down if (heaven forbid) you forgot to bring snacks, you want a one stop shop instead of running all around town.
I recently took my kiddos to Woodfield Mall in order to scoop up everything on our shopping list in ONE place. I am sharing my back to school shopping tips for parents; hopefully it can help you make this back to school season less stressful!
EAT (and Drink)
This might seem obvious, but I schedule in time to have a leisurely lunch with my kids. I actually do it right before we start shopping- this way, everyone is fed, has time to go to the bathroom, and we go over expectations (both behavior and shopping list). Sure, snacks are great (and seriously, who can resist an Auntie Anne’s pretzel), but grabbing a fairly well-balanced meal that isn’t all carbs will set your family off on the right foot. Woodfield has a number of family-friend restaurants on site- Cheesecake Factory, P.F. Chang’s, Red Robin and Rainforest Cafe. I adore the atmosphere at Rainforest Cafe because my kids can wander the restaurant while we wait for our food. ANNNDD I definitely have a pre-shopping cocktail.
Host a Fashion Show at Home Before You Shop
My kids are obsessed with getting something NEW during our back to school shopping trips even though they can still fit into some of their old clothing. I host a little fashion show a few days before we go on a shopping trip and see what they can still squeeze into and what they still need. We then make a specific list of what is lacking. This helps cut down on those impulse purchases.
Know Your Kids Size
Take a look at what size they wear in their favorite brands, and if you need to size up. This way, you can more accurately predict what to bring into the fitting room. As for shoes, make sure to ask for help sizing your kids each time you go shoe shopping. I learned this the hard way a few months ago when I bought shoes at a discount store- I shouldn’t trust a 3 year old when she tells me her shoes “fit perfectly.” The team at Kids Foot Locker were pros- they measured my son and suggested certain styles for what we needed.
Take a Break
After a few stores, I grabbed myself an Iced Caramel Macchiato from Starbucks and popped my kids on the train that ran around the mall. I was able to study the map, compare what we still needed to what we already purchased, and plan out our next stores. Woodfield also has free Wi-Fi, Mobile Device Charging Stations, Family Restrooms, Children’s Play Area and even valet parking on the weekends. The kids were able to get their sillies out, I relaxed, and we were all ready to roll.
Put Rules in Place
I recently interviewed Lilliana Vazquez, the style expert on the Today Show, and she had a great plan for back to school shopping. Make a deal with your kids in advance. For example, for every 3 basics (jeans, socks, etc…) they get to pick one trendy item. For every 2 hand-me-downs, they get one new item. This way, the kids know what to expect, and you have communicated your expectations with them. Little Miss Charlotte wanted a jacket from ivivva, and we agreed upon purchasing it after we ticked off 2 staples (a backpack and a winter hat). And I mean, how adorable is she in the fitting room? She JUST fits into their smallest size, and their clothes are well-made and practical. The zipper pull on the jacket doubles as a hair tie, and the cuffs fold over the fingers to double as mittens (for when I forget to bring them…which is always).
Do you have any tips that get you through the back to school rush? Please share!
Cheers to getting your kids off to school, successfully starting a new school year, and getting a little free time back in your schedule!
Disclosure: This is a sponsored post on behalf of Woodfield Mall, but all opinions are honest and my own as always!