Back to School Shop

I've just returned from a trip into town. That in itself can be pretty depressing. It's no Westfield (a place I feel is my spiritual home). It has shops dating back to the 1950s, interspersed with Poundlands and Greggs. I have a friend who, when she moved here, cried while walking around the town for the first time



Impediments to happy shopping

The good news is that the council has finally agreed to give it a complete overhaul, and the shiny new plans for the town centre look very promising.

But I wonder what the residents of the town will make of it? Regular readers of this blog will know that I live in a town that is predominantly made up of extras from Cocoon, i.e. old people. Lovely though they are, I just wish they would walk a bit faster. I'm going to write to the town planners and ask if they wouldn't mind imposing a minimum speed limit for how fast people walk around the new shopping mall.

Just think how much easier and faster shopping would be if pedestrians were corralled into slow and fast lanes? They do it at our local swimming pool - why not on the streets as well?

Turning shopping into a workout

I tend to use any shopping trip to town as one of my cardiovascular workouts, which means I look ridiculous power walking round the shops and have been known to stick my arm out to indicate when I'm overtaking an OAP. But it means I'm in and out of that place in the shortest time possible, and have burnt off enough calories to justify my Triple Chocolate Mocha.

But I digress. The reason for my visit to the town centre is that annual nightmare that all parents of school age children face at the end of the summer - the back to school shop.

Annual shopping nightmare

Staggering cost of back-to-school items

For a start, this is something you have to start saving for from the beginning of the year. I read somewhere that most parents spend on average £350 on back to school items. That's nuts, but I'm not surprised.

I seriously think I qualify for shares in WH Smith the amount I spend in there each year on "stuff". How many rubbers can one child get through in a year? I am always appalled by the state of my eldest's pencil case at the end of each term. It looks as if someone has blown up an entire box of ink cartridges in it - and then rubbed a Pritt Stick inside, to which every pencil shaving from his classroom has stuck.

There is never anything salvageable in it for the next academic year.

Shopping with the boys

The other nightmare of back to school shopping is having to take the kids with you to do it. This is probably when I most wish I had girls and not boys. My sons have inherited many traits from me (some better than others, according to my husband), but they definitely haven't inherited my love of shopping. We've barely got out of the car before they're asking when they can go home.

The one saving grace of going to town is to get my eyebrows threaded. I'm still amazed that the town has such a facility, but I'm not complaining. After the long summer, my eyebrows were beginning to channel the hirsute Lord Healey. If you are too young to know what he looks like, Google him.

Amanda Coxen, Working Mum and Tinies Director

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