These back-to-school parenting tips for shopping with tweens are sponsored by Gymboree.
She's leaping forward into her tween years, but... I still remember her wobbly first step.
My husband held her favorite book in his hands. She stood swaying a bit on those chubby little baby legs.
She let go of my hand for the first time.
She stumbled slowly over to Dad and we clapped as she clasped the book.
When the girls walked for the first time, I was just excited about getting to know them better.
The ability to move willingly to a specific book or person was now their CHOICE. I remember being shocked by some of the toys they started playing with once they were mobile. I started to learn more about my daughters, their preferences, and their personalities through their decisions.
I try to keep this in mind today. Letting our kids independently shop for school clothes is also an opportunity to US to get to know our kids better.
It is also a stepping stone that allows them to grow into young adults. As a parent, I am constantly trying to remind myself to give our kids the opportunity to learn how to make good decisions.
My theory is that the more kids practice making choices now (when they are young and supervised), the more effectively they'll be able to make logical decisions when they are at school or out with friends (when they are older and off on their own).
Is your little one starting to "let go of your hand" and leap into the tween years, too? Take hold of this opportunity and use the five suggestions below to ensure you both grow from the situation.
5 Tips for Shopping with Tweens:
1. Skip the potential public scene. Worried your tween might flip-out when you disagree on something? Skip the trip to the store and consider school shopping on the web. Many retailers will allow you to return online purchases in-person at a brick-and-mortar store.
Be sure to check the store's return policies before shopping online!
This year we did our back-to-school prep at Gymboree.com. My girls already had a few Gymboree outfits in their closet, so I knew the sizes we'd buy online would be a good fit. With all the purchases made, we only had one return.
Note: My girls are average in size and, in my opinion, the Gymboree sizes run true to the child's age.
2. Discuss expectations. Start a conversation instead of giving a directive. I told the girls, "We're shopping for fall clothes today. What kinds of things should we be looking for today?" The weather here in Wisconsin is variable throughout the day. The girls decided we needed items that we could LAYER. They wanted to be warm on cool mornings and be able to shed layers as the day warmed up.
Another reasons I like shopping online with the girls is that most sites showcase multiple outfit options. This makes it easier to select layered pieces that coordinate. It also makes it easier for the kids to imagine how to play with the different pieces available in unique ways.
3. Get out the umbrella. One of my favorite things about shopping online is that many retailers have "collections" with coordinating pieces. One of the easiest ways to give your child independence when shopping, is for YOU to pick a few pre-approved collections, have them decide on the one they like best, then let THEM pick the items they want to buy. No arguments, no fuss. Plus...
The frugal minimalist in me loves that the colors of the different pieces coordinate.
This year Quinn shopped the Gymboree Bright Ideas Collection and Rose picked items primarily from the Center Stage Collection.This allowed the girls to shop their own style, but still have pieces that coordinate. It is nice to know that the gray is parallel across both collections.
My girls are 15-months apart and close in size, so it is refreshing to know that when they mix-and-match everything will still look great together. Some day I am sure they'll argue more about whose clothes are whose, but for now they are sweet about sharing...
I adore these collections.
The outfits are sassy enough for the girls to feel stylish, but still respect the boundaries of childhood.
When my girls jumped up and out of the Kids Six & Under Section it started to become challenging to find semi-conservative, yet fashionable clothes. For me, it is refreshing to have a safe haven like Gymboree where I don't have to worry about saying "yes."
4. Reiterate the ground rules.You've already discussed expectations with your tween, now reiterate the ground rules. The girls independently came up with an appropriate fall wishlist in our chat. I simply reminded them when we started to shop that we would *not* be buying any summer items.
When we opened the cart to the items they'd selected, what did I see? Yep. You guessed it. SHORTS. I promptly deleted them, which earned me a few, "Mom!" responses.
I was about to hit delete on this adorable summer halter top that weaseled its way into the cart when my daughter reminded me that she could wear a cardigan with it (pics above). Perfect for a warm fall day! The girl's favorite color is blue. How could I resist that adorable smile? To be honest, it was her logical tone of voice that earned her an, "Ok, let's get it."
5. Set a monetary limit BEFORE you start shopping. Let your child know their shopping limit. Then set them off on the computer to roam the website filling the cart with their favorite items. When they are finally finished browsing, we pop open the online shopping cart to review their picks. The total at this point always elicits a "Whoa!" response at our house. I show the girls how to remove items from the basket and say, "Now, get this down to $X.XX amount."
This is a fun opportunity to learn about money management and decision making. Try asking questions versus directing what to remove. For example, I pointed to a pair of gray skinny jeans and said, "What I love about these is that they match this, this and this. PLUS they are on sale, which is awesome. Which means you get to order more things." It is fascinating watching their young minds at work as they whittle down their dream list of items. After a final review of the shopping cart, hit send and carry on with your day!
One final note: The back-to-school items my daughters picked, I admit... they are not the things I would have selected for them. I was drawn to the adorable dresses and polka dots. In fact, to be completely honest, when I saw these batik leggings in the cart I grimaced. I took a breath and let the purchase slide. The thing is, the pants are absolutely adorable in-person. You might be pleasantly surprised at your child's choices.
This whole experience might feel awkward at first. I've let the girls dress themselves and pick their own outfits each morning since they were in preschool. Letting them control the wardrobe themselves is an opportunity for tweens.
When I remember those first steps, and watch how fast my girls are growing, this quote brings a comforting smile to my face...
“Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.”
― C.S. Lewis
Here's to enjoying EVERY stage of childhood!
Thank you again to Gymboree for offering wholesome collections that sassy tweens will love.
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”