As most full-time child-wranglers know all too well, back-to-school shopping requires a ninja black belt level of concentration and skill. You need to go in primed to withstand lengthy negotiations with pushy youngsters who don’t seem to understand basic concepts like “you don’t need this”, “we can’t afford this” or, simply, “no”. You need to keep a cool head in the face of a salvo of nagging – sometimes coming at you from multiple directions at once – performing the verbal equivalent of Matrix-style back-bends when a fresh barrage ensues. And you need to keep at least one sniper-eye on the shopping trolley at ALL TIMES (look away for a split-second and risk three or four items that weren’t there before mysteriously appearing in your cart).
But once it’s all over and done with, you then get to sit back and enjoy that sweet (albeit brief) period of time where the kids actually feel excited to go back to school and show off all of their shiny new gear to their peers.
Because for sprouts of all ages, especially the majority who wear uniforms to class every day, non-uniform items like shoes, backpacks and lunchboxes are way more than just material possessions, they’re opportunities for your littley to express his or her own unique sense of individual identity, creativity and style.
So with that in mind, the only surefire way to minimise the chances of your back-to-school shopping trip descending into a taxing tug-o-war between temper tantrums and maxed out credit cards is to do your homework beforehand. Strategise. Write a checklist of everything you need in advance, then sit down with your kids and browse catalogues to see what brands they like, and weigh up whether or not their faves fit into your family budget before you set foot in the store.
To help get you started, I’ve compiled my own wishlist of the most stylish back-to-school products, as vetted by my 12-year-old son Max and 9-year-old daughter Gracie. Enjoy!