5 Tips to Take the Stress Out of Back to School Shopping

Mom Life

Back to School … the time of year filled with equal parts excitement and dread! On one hand, kids are starting to get bored and the whole family is ready to get back on a schedule. On the other hand, back to school means school supply lists, trying on a closet full of clothes only to discover they’re all too small, toddler (or tween) meltdowns in aisle 4, and battling crowds just to fight over the last size 4 pair of “it” shoes for back to school or the last 8 ounce bottle of Elmer’s glue in the school supply aisle!

So, here are a few Mamanista-approved tips to take the stress out of back to school shopping:

  1. Shop Online:

    Honestly, I could start and end the list here. Shop online for all of it… every last glue stick, pencil, pack of socks, backpack and t-shirt! All of it! Ok, so there’s more to it than that, but with free returns through Amazon Prime, the launch of Prime Wardrobe and stores like Old Navy and Target accepting in store returns for online purchase, make online shopping a no brainer. Researching and purchasing items for back to school online can be a huge time saver and stress reliever for busy moms. No towing your toddler while rummaging through 800 racks of clothing searching for just the “right” size and color t-shirt and leggings for your tween girl!

  2. Do Your Research:

    Use the habit of mindless scrolling through your phone after the kids have gone to bed to your advantage. Go through your email inbox and actually open up all those sale emails (wink! wink!). Scout out sale promo codes, sale dates, and size charts of your favorite kids’ brands, download school supply lists, and return/exchange policies for some of your family’s go to stores. That way you have all the details to make informed decisions on when, where and how to shop.

  3. Pre Shop:

    As you’re going through sale emails and browsing favorite online stores, add items to your cart. Be sure you’re signed in so you can access these saved items later in store or online from a different device when you’re ready to purchase. For older kids, go through the items and help them make decisions from the comfort of your couch rather than in meltdown mode in the store dressing room. If you shop online, your cart is ready for final selections, purchase and shipping when you are. If you decide to shop in store, your online cart provides a road map for navigating busy stores with your kids.

  4. Compare Prices:

    This one is related to the “do your research” but it’s worth mentioning again. Take advantage of online resources and apps to be sure you’re getting the best prices on your back to school purchases. Apps/websites like RetailMeNot and Groupon consolidate promo codes and sales. The RetailMeNot app will even search your immediate area using your phone’s location settings. Google Shopping will also show you price comparisons and stores with specific items in stock online and in store. This is great for those hard to find items your teen “has to have” for school!

  5. Don’t Be Afraid of Returns/Exchanges: 

    Buy online or in store from stores that have generous return and exchange policies. This allows you to buy multiple sizes and colors in store or online then take them home to try them on and work with your kids to decide what fits, what isn’t itchy, and what they’ll actually wear this year. It’s hard to be intentional about purchases when you’re surrounded by 457 other stressed-out school shoppers and your kids are on the verge of a meltdown. Below are links to a few stores we consider our shopping BFFs when it comes to returns and exchanges:

    • Amazon PrimeFree returns on most products fulfilled by Amazon when using Amazon Prime.  You can easily select the item needed to return and print return shipping labels directly from Amazon.
    • Prime Wardrobe: This “try before you buy” service is currently by invitation only but if you’re lucky enough to score an early invite, you can add up to 15 items to your Prime Wardrobe box and have 7-days to try it on. Return in the resealable box it came in with the label included.
    • Old Navy & GapYou have 45 days to exchange or return items purchased through Gap Brands. Each shipment comes with a pre-printed return label. You can also return or exchange in store.
    • Target: Target is a favorite retailer of ours for all the things! They have a generous 90-day return policy and you can buy online and return in store. No receipt? No problem. Target can look up your purchase.
    • Zappos: You don’t need to worry about buying the wrong shoes online with Zappos. This online shoe and clothing retailer gives you 365 days to return unused products and will pay for the return shipping.


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