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A Pediatric Perspective

Strategies to Ease the Stress of Back to School Shopping ...

Published August 25, 2011 12:11 AM by Wendy Hof

So with school just around the corner my kids have already started to think about what they will be looking for when we go back to school shopping.  They know right where they want to get this shirt or those shorts and let's not forget the sneakers!  My husband has been out looking to see where we can get the cheapest back to school supplies.. the paper, pens, pencils, highlighters, and the list goes on and on.

Now this can be a very stressful time for most families; especially those who don't like shopping to begin with.  It can be especially stressful if you have a child who may not like crowds, noises, or the need to go to several shops to get everything that is on the supply list.  There are a couple things I have found that can work out in these situations.

1) Look through your list and see if there is one place where you can get all the items (or at least the majority of items).  Walmart, Target, and K-Mart are often stores that will carry the school supplies as well as the clothing.  If a one-stop-shopping location is not an option you would prefer to do then it would still be a good idea to cut down the number of places you will need to stop at.  One stop for the supplies and one stop for the clothes.  In this case an office supply store or even Walmart can help with the supplies and then a stop at the mall can help with the clothes.  The mall is a good option if your child is a child who doesn't like crowds because you can go into a store and look around, come out to get a break if it's crowded and then go back in to try on and/or purchase the clothes.  There is also places for restroom breaks and snack/drink breaks that can help to lessen the stress levels by offering a break from the shopping and, in many cases, a place to sit down and regroup.

2) On-line shopping can help with many supplies and more and more on-line stores are offering free shipping to get the back-to-school shoppers. 

3) When going shopping try to go out first thing in the morning right when the stores open to catch the stores before they get crowded.  Try and do the clothes shopping first as the trying on part of clothes shopping can be tiring and frustrating and it is usually best to get this out of the way so when it comes to supply shopping you can just go in, get the supplies (without needing to try anything on), and get out and be on your way home in no time.

4) Always, always have a list of what you need and which stores you will be going to so you aren't just driving around wondering which store to go to next. If you can map out the stores so you can get to them without having to drive back and forth it will help cut the driving time and lessen the stress of figuring out where you need to go next.

5) Before you leave the house set down the rules of the day to your child(ren).  Let them know what supplies you will be getting, where you will be going, and what clothes you will be purchasing for them.  It's important to try and set down a spending limit especially when it comes to the clothes for the older children.  For the younger ones they may need to know exactly what they can purchase (2 pairs of shorts, 1 pair of jeans, a pair of sneakers costing no more than $xx.xx).  This will help cut back on having to feel like a bad guy every time you have to say "no" to a request for something that is not on the back-to-school list.  Stores want you to come in and not just buy what's on the supply list but to also be begged into buying all the cool stuff they have out to capture your child's eye.  If your child goes into the store knowing that you are only going to get A and B and not C then you can cut down on the "but I neeeed this too" requests and the "no you don't" responses that follow.  If you need to, remind your child that you have already talked about what you would and would not be buying before you left the house.

I hope these tips can help to make the back-to-school shopping trips less stressful and less complicated.  If anyone has any other suggestions they have found to be helpful please share them.  We can all use help when it comes to the end of our relaxing summer and the beginning of getting ready for the routines and rituals of school time.

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