Taking your Tween, Teen shopping

Shopping with your kids. How do you go? I am not talking doing the grocery run with tired and grumpy per-schooler. I  mean serious clothes shopping for the tween, teen and young adult.
Here is what I have learned.


There is always a lot of waiting. Whilst the mission of our shopping expedition may have been outlined before our departure it always seems to be difficult to stay on course. Looking for a new pair of jeans can evolve to browsing jewellery, boots and a new jumper. Be prepared to muster much patience. See image above-  I got bored and started taking selfies for Instagram.


At times it is seriously important to offer advice about style, cut and fit, even if the comments are not welcome. This is after all the role of the mother to guard against your child (daughter?) showing too much here or there and to be realistic about what style suits them not some celebrity. But there are other occasions when positive remarks are called for – there is nothing more frustrating than not fitting into an outfit because some body part is too big or too small. So encouragement and perseverance is required.


The adventure to shop for jeans can quickly turn into shopping for several pairs of jeans. So be prepared to negotiate price, payment ( are you paying or am I?) and all the practicalities of making a purchase.


And this outing with your older child can be a great teaching experience – how does EFTPOS work, what is lay-by, budgeting, saving and so one. You can also teach about quality over quantity, buying clothes for seasons and being able to flexible with your expectations of what you had in mind.


Very often there is a child or two who actually hate shopping. So the ‘buy in bulk’, try on outfits at home and then do the returns later have proven to be great options. This can also translate into online shopping. We don’t have access to the full range of shops for special items – think undergarments, formal dresses, black tie and so on. So shopping together at the computer can be rewarding. Just take care to read all the terms and conditions about returns and postage.

Shopping – I am not good at this, don’t get me wrong. I don’t mind shopping. But as an OP Shop Queen from years gone by I find it actually harder to make a purchase when I have choice of style and size. I have been conditioned to look for the treasure and the absolute bargain in the local thrift shop. And you can find great things…..it just takes time, patience and a whole of negotiating of expectations. Teaching your kids to op shop, now that is another blog post in the making.

Girl Time

This is part of our tribe. The female part. A group selfie taken after an exhausting shopping trip at Melbourne Emporium. I love the buzz of shopping in the city with the kids, but with four girls at a range of ages and stages the demands are well… quite unbelievable. We find ourselves looking for clothes, shoes, lip balms, books, toys, food, toilets, escalators. We find ourselves looking for each other when one or more little people attempt hide and seek amongst the clothes aisles. My patience is tested and my calm voice starts barking orders.

‘Stay close, take care.’
‘Hold hands. Don’t touch!”
“No. I am not buying that.’
“No, not today.”
“Do you know how close it is until Christmas?”
“What did I tell you 5 minutes ago?”
“Didn’t you just go to the toilet?”

But part of me wants to laugh. We go into a shopping mecca so I should expect that the advertising magic will work on them, as it does me. They will want to look, they will want to purchase. It is a temple that creates envy, desire and promotes consumerism.

So I am hoping to train them to use it as a starting point for inspiration. Observe the people, take note of the changing fashion you see, look at the way things are displayed and put together. Be inspired to use what you have, maybe with a little something extra to create an entirely new look.

My girls have been schooled in hardline vintage shopping. The know how to embrace the challenge of an opportunity shop and come out with a great pair of Sass and Bide jeans and a pair or Vera Wang ballet flats. We look for as new, quality brands that have much life, great fabrics and cuts in clothes. They know that op shops are the best place to extend your book collection, buy for Dad’s vinyl revival, pick up the odd piece of costume jewellery or an occasional chair for your bedroom. We have found some great prints and frames, recycled lamps and sourced amazing vintage fabric.

My line in the op shop is different. There is less stress and more adrenalin as we are on the hunt for a bargain. When pressed to make a purchase it is hard to say not to a $2 cashmere sweater or another pair of Walnut shoes, as new for $5. So I am aware of my own inconsistency. Am i savvy? Maybe. Do I pinch pennies? Sometimes. Hopefully I am training the girls to be able to make more with less. To recycle, reuse and revitalise something old, vintage and preloved.

This tribe of mine will be shopping for opportunity for a long time. And making the most of Girl Time.


Long day of touring.  On the bus at eight-thirty this morning and off it at nine-thirty tonight.  In between we’ve travelled what is obviously a pretty well worn tourist route in Shanghai. 
Which is not to say that it hasn’t been enlightening.  We’ve been in Pudong today – the commercial hub of China.  This is effectively a brand new town, constructed out of farming land since the early 1990s.  The buildings are new and still look beautiful (I take it all back); the streets are wide and clean. 
Beneath the veneer, however, there are reminders of what it was like to tour here as a kid in the mid 1980s.  
The Shanghai museum was terrific.  Could’ve spent a day looking at thousand-year old ceramics and coins that were much older than that.  We had little over an hour. 
 ‘Shanghai Designated Tourist Restaurant’ read the sign above the door  of the establishment at which we dined for lunch.  No recommendations on Urbanspoon.  
It became clear that our guides have various profit sharing arrangements in places with different vendors of mementoes and souvenirs around town.  We would all have enjoyed a more historical, and less self-servingly commercial perspective, I think.  It would have been good to hear what happened in ‘The Bund’ – the foreign government protectorates – in the 1920s and 1930s – rather simply that these magnificent buildings were simply built at that time.  We spent 15 minutes looking at them from across the road and then went to a shop which sold pearls.  To 14 and 15 year old kids! In this part of town the Chinese flag flies above 20 or more buildings in a row.  They seem to be making a statement that these magnificent old structures, built by foreign powers, now serve China.  Across the road a massive statue of Chairman Mao presides over the splendid new river promenade, the restaurants and cafe’s and bars and cars.  Contrasts beyond words. 
The kids have had too much shopping.  Spent money on trinkets and toys and food they didn’t really need to eat.  
All I set out to buy was mobile data.  Job done. 


Girl Talk

 Conversations were fun with my girl, as we took time out to explore Melbourne CBD together. We browsed in arty, crafty, design shops, ate out, drank coffee, had a Bobbi Brown makeover, watched a film and visited Gorman. Hopefully it is the beginning of a tradition of having some special girl time – with all my four daughters. Just call me Mrs Bennett – for those Austen fans out there you will understand my situation.

Feeling good…

Well my my, I think this is one of the first years I have managed to do a complete overhaul of the Christmas shopping and wrap presents for all the cousins and small people. There is still a lot to do. My man asked me if he could help – nah, not really. He has also asked if I need to do all the Christmas jobs I set myself. Like Christmas baking, making an advent calendar, plan a family Advent activity, prepare cards and notes and handmade gifts for teachers, music teachers, ballet teachers, rowing coaches, the crossing lady and so on. Well, I think the answer is yes.

Christmas is about Jesus’ birth. One day a year I can go for the whole “let me tell you about Jesus” thing with abandon. I need to make the most of this opportunity and help to encourage friends, family and community to SLOW down as we rest and reflect on why Jesus’ birth is so special. That makes me feel good.

Shop Smart

Do you like shopping? I have had seasons when doing a regular grocery shop with 3-4 smallish children is like a re-enactment of a horror movie. Everything goes wrong, the kids misbehave, it takes so so long, you cannot find a park and you end of doing a grab and go approach, thus breaking every rule of the weekly budget. Sound familiar? I have especially fond memories of toppling trolleys with kids inside, dislocating my knee while pregnant and pushing a heavy load to the car and a kid needing the toilet, when the trolley was full to the brim.

The question is how do you shop well, regularly (so you don’t run out of essentials) and relatively painlessly? I have tried many strategies, some have worked for a while, many have failed. And the bottom line is that I am not all that consistent. But if you need some new ideas here are some from me and some great girlfriends who have shared how they shop. Choose one approach and trial it for awhile.

Making lists:
– Use a blackboard to make the list then take a picture of it on your smartphone before going shopping
– Use an app on your phone to make lists using your local supermarket guide. Some have barcode scanners for easy updates of your pantry items
– recycle old envelopes and use them as a shopping list pad
– Use one of the many menu planners around online and adapt the shopping list to suit. I particularly like The Project Girl, Jen Allyson for a great yearly planner, meal planners and the shopping lists look great too.

Big and Bulky:
– Plan some kid free time to do a massive shop once a month. Buy bulk items like toilet paper, cleaning and personal products, tinned food and dry staples for the pantry. Think large bags of flour, oil, sugar, pasta and so on. Just be prepared to find good storage options for each item.
– Or if you live in a large town take advantage of shopping online and have it delivered. I have done this both in Australia and overseas when the children were small and difficult to take shopping. It works. After you do it a few times your regular items are saved and shopping can be 10 minutes online while you have a cup of tea!

Make small shopping fun:
– Plan a trip to the local green grocer, butcher or baker and include meeting a friend for coffee in the outing. The trick to success is to ring ahead and order your goods with your local provider. Some stores allow you to have an account and some may even deliver locally. Avail yourself of all  these services.
– Investigate farmer’s markets, local community food co-ops and so on.

– If bulk buying scares you a little then opt to do it with a friend. Split the 10kg bag of flour or potatoes.
– Shop with a friend or take it in turns to watch each other’s kids while you do the supermarket run.

– Spend some time planning what you will eat, even if it is for 3-4 meals a week. This will help you save time and in theory money too. No more last minute 5 o’clock runs to the supermarket.
– If you are able to plan some meals and make double you can freeze the leftovers and have food to grab and go for extra busy night.

– Shop when no-one else does. Early in the morning or late at night. There will be no queues and if you time it right you may get all the clearance items to yourself.

If you have some more ideas to redeem the grocery store mayhem and shop smarter then please leave a comment. We would all love to hear how you do it!


Have you heard the buzz about Copious? A new place to sell, buy and love. This online market hall for selected goodness and design will ignite your interest and curiosity. Using Facebook and Pinterest as an entry point you can list, sell, buy and/or browse. Move over ebay. The only problem is that they are not shipping internationally, yet. The marketing department assure me it is only a matter of time, so I should keep browsing and “loving” what I see. In the meantime it is time to de-clutter the copious items of clothing, shoes and jewellery and and take some pretty pics on instagram for sale time. Are you there?