There are certain mother-daughter activities that many of us moms think will be filled with bliss. Shopping is one of those activities. More specifically, shoe shopping. Well let me be the first to tell you that shoe shopping is not necessarily all it’s cracked up to be.

A few weeks ago, I took Sophie to a local store to find a few new pairs of summer shoes. Armed with my 15%-off coupon, we made our way to the children’s shoe section where I expected to find a variety of summer sandals, croc-like shoes, and flip flops. What I did NOT expect was the over-abundance of expensive light-up sneakers and sparkly strappy heeled shoes. Sophie’s a 3-year-old preschooler, not a finalist for a children’s beauty pageant.

I decided to concentrate on the few pairs of decent, sensible shoes I identified. I even went so far as to show Sophie the Disney princess and Dora walking shoes. But Sophie would have nothing to do with them. All she wanted were items that flashed, played music, or were entirely too big or too small for her.

Now before I go further, let me say I try very hard not to impose my clothing (or shoe) preferences on Sophie. I may think something looks hideous. But if it’s weather appropriate and okay for school, I usually let her go with it. But I draw the line when it comes to Lolita-style shoes for 3-year-old girls. And I can’t afford to spend a fortune on a shoe that lights up, even with a discount coupon.

After trying shoe after shoe, the shopping expedition was going downhill fast. I was getting annoyed; Sophie was irritated; and other patrons couldn’t even walk past us because of the endless shoes cluttering the aisle. At one point, I actually threw a shoe in frustration (not at Sophie). We left the store empty-handed and feeling anything BUT blissful.

After a few deep breaths and reflection, I did learn something from the shoe-shopping fiasco. And that is this: I should have given Sophie parameters in which she could help choose the shoes. Of course, I should have also pre-screened the shoes.

Armed with this realization, I put this into practice at Target where we attempted summer shoe shopping again. (And by the way, Target had a much better and sensible shoe selection.) I told Sophie she could pick any shoe that had a 9 on it (for her size 9). That did it! She was excited and empowered, and it became like a game to her (to find the 9). It also assured me she would try on only the shoes that fit her.

We left Target with two new pairs of summer shoes. Do you know what Sophie settled on? A pair of white sandals and pink crocs – identical to what she has now … but in a size 9. Now that was a successful shoe shopping experience.

51 Responses

  1. Mother-daughter shopping is not necessarily all it’s cracked up to be, I agree. I am not a shopper anyway, and my daughter has *always* outlasted me–even when she was Sophie’s age! Thank goodness she, too, has her own (very excellent) taste in shoes and clothes so I rarely need to say a word. I am very impressed with Sophie’s choices (I just recently bought my first pair of crocs and love them!).

    1. I’m with you – I’m really not a big shopper. I actually prefer shopping for Sophie because it’s cheaper, the clothes are cuter, and I don’t have to worry about sizes being too small. And agreed she did pick out some nice shoes. She’s been wearing those crocs every day this week too.

  2. hahaha I loved reading this because it brings back those memories 🙂 But I have to tell ya, the saga will continue (giggle -sorry, I have a warped sense of humor which I think is absolutely necessary when raising kids!)

    Last week I took my 14yo shopping for “a new outfit” for a big school function. They look forward to it every year & much of it is outdoors. And she wanted shorts & a tank top… doesn’t matter that it was only going to be 60 degrees… and wouldn’t you know she headed for these short shorts & a spaghetti tank top. Usually my dd is a total tomboy, loves t-shirts & jeans, but it’s darn hard to find decent shorts anymore that don’t make these girls looks like a bunch of hoochie-mammas!! Anyway, it took two shopping trips & some lovely eye rolling from dd, hissing under the breath from me, but she eventually found decent shorts & a tank top w/thicker straps that actually covered her chest (which she hid under a sweatshirt because it was TOO COLD!!) OY VEY!!

    1. Thanks for sharing and warning what I have to look forward to! I know this is only the beginning. Those short shorts and strappy tops will be right around the corner. Great story!

  3. Thank you! For not putting the high heels on your three-year-old. (That’s a pet peeve of mine.) I like little girls to dress like little girls. Well done, Mom.

    1. Thank you, and so glad you get it too. It’s so not appropriate, not to mention crazy for playground attire.

  4. Sounds like a great strategy! Since I’m not a mom, I can’t really relate any similar experiences. However, I can totally promote the wonderful shoe selection at Target! I love buying flats and flip flops there for so cheap.

    1. Target rocks! In fact, I ended up finding a pair of new running shoes for me on that same shoe shopping trip. On clearance too! And ironically, a size 9.

  5. That was exactly my shoe shopping experience the other day. The funny thing was I saw the same flowered sandal at three different stores, ranging from $15 to $30, with only a slight variation on the insole (brand name!). We also ended up getting shoes at Target: a pair of canvas Mary Janes on sale for $3.74.

    And what *is* up with all the heels? That’s all the stores had for Easter (except, again, for Target, where I got a pair of ballet flats). Now there are wedge heels and kitten heels for elementary schoolers; so not playground appropriate. Or any time appropriate; I can’t think of a single occasion where I’d want my daughter to twist her ankle due to footwear!

    1. Thank you for seeing my point. I don’t know how anyone thinks they are school or playground appropriate. Go ballet flats and Target.

  6. Way to go, Momma Leah. Amazing how those parameters work, isn’t it? And you know, that’s what children want and need – boundaries, structure and lots of love and encouragement for their “guided” choices. I love the hot pink clogs! ❤

  7. Parametres are a great approach – except that backfired on me when my daughter bypassed the girls shoe section altogether and went straight for the boys section. Sigh. With 2 older brothers there was no girly-girl shopping to be done. Ah well, we all learn to pick our battles and boys versus girls shoes is definitely NOT one of them! Thanks for sharing.

    1. Ha ha — that’s great. And I agree that there are worse things than a girl wanting to wear “boys” shoes. Sounds like you’ve got your parenting down.

  8. Stories like this make me happy and sad that I don’t have a little girl.

    Happy that I don’t have to worry about telling my three year old that she can’t wear heels yet.

    Sad that I don’t get to shop for the cute stuff with a little girl who cares.

    But hey, who knows, maybe when my boy is three, he’ll be interested in what his shoes look like. 🙂

    1. That may be the best of both worlds. An easy-going boy who will wear what you pick out for him, but prefers girls styles!

  9. Congratulations on finding a strategy that worked for both of you! I took my daughter sneaker shopping a few weeks ago, and found to both our amazement that her feet are only one size smaller than mine. We ended up getting the same shoes, even, because we both have narrow feet and there was only one style that really fit us comfortably. Thankfully, she thought that was cool instead of embarrassing and lame. We have to be careful where we leave them, though; the other day she wore my shoes to school and wondered all day why they felt so loose.

    I wish you much future shopping joy with your daughter!

    1. What a great story! Thanks for sharing. I hope my future shopping endeavors will be like that and my daughter will think it’s cool to have shoes like me.

  10. One day when my daughter was around 14 she asked if I would like to go shopping in the Mall. Thrilled, I said: “I’d love to. Let’s go!” As soon as we got in the Mall I asked her where she’d like to look. Shocked, she looked at me and said: “You don’t expect me to actually walk around with you do you?!”

  11. What a brilliant idea to have her look for the ones in her own size! I’m going to have to remember that one… Fortunately our Munchkin isn’t tall enough yet to see the shoes perched atop the shelves at the outlet where we shop, so we can kind of “direct” her selections. We’re heading back next week, in fact, to get her some summer shoes too!

  12. It really amazes me some of the clothing and accessory options that are available now for young kids. It’s like they are expected to be little fashionistas, instead of fun-loving kids wearing clothes and shoes that allow them to play and be kids.

    The final 2 shoes are adorable. I love the little white sandals. I’m glad your day was able to end on a good note.

  13. I’m with both of you … shopping of any kind sucks. The last pair of shoes I bought took me all of 10 minutes to purchase (that’s how badly I did not want to be there … but, alas, I was going to a conference and needed them). The great news? I got a pair of dress shoes so comfy that I even looked up the manufacturer online and plan to buy more shoes from them. Sometimes you just get lucky…

    Glad the Crocs and sandals were the final choice. I can’t believe how quickly kids are expected to grow up these days.

  14. I applaud you, Leah, for having the good sense to avoid the ‘Lolita’ shoes. It always appalls me to see children dressed in clothes that are not age appropriate. What are their mothers thinking?
    What a great idea to show her the 9 and have her find it. Brilliant!
    I love Sophie’s choices. Fresh, cute and comfy =)

    1. Thank you! I think we’ll be sticking to the “size 9” idea and Target for our shoe needs from now on.

  15. Leah,
    I so feel the pain of mother-daughter shopping. I have never really liked shopping, so I went as a pouty daughter, and I hope my daughters can teach me to enjoy it more. I think I don’t like it because of the consumption and commercialism involved that makes the relationship part of the trip hard. All I want is time with my daughters…and the shopping tends to get in the way. I think it’s great your daughter is already a sensible shopper! MMF

    1. Thanks, Megan. Hopefully she stays sensible as she grows. I’m not a big shopping fan either. So that probably makes these outings harder than something like grocery shopping (which we both love).

  16. Our daughters must have been separated at birth, by two years. She has the same name, and we recently were searching out decent summer shoes and ended up with the exact two pairs you show in your pics (different colors though). Too funny. But, ugh, I was appalled at the number of strappy sandals even at Target that were aimed toward the preschool set. Seriously, my daughter trips on air as it is; I’m sure she’d break her ankle in one of those ridiculous, way-too-old-for-her-style sandals.

    1. Wow, that is too funny! Isn’t it crazy what they’re trying to market to preschool-aged kids? Do you have a blog? Would love to “meet” your daughter!

  17. Stopping in from SITS – congrats on your day! I have two girls and I love this post. We actually shop on Zappos for shoes. I am able to set some search parameters (including price) and they can take it from there.

  18. You know, I don’t think it ever gets easier. My Mom and I fought about shopping until I went to college. Eventually she just gave up and gave me her credit card with a note for the cashier saying “Betsy is allowed to buy shoes only and can spend up to X amount of dollars”

    I stopped by from SITS. Congrats on your big day! I’m also a San Diego blogger and love meeting other locals. I’ll be visiting again!

  19. I have made the same mistake with my daughter, trying to negotiate or allowing her too much say or too many choices. We live and learn. In the end they are just as happy with something new once taken out of the glittering, confusing atmosphere. Happy SITS day!

  20. hahaha – too funny. My oldest daughter used to critique the mannequins – no kidding. I knew I was in trouble. Kids love to have some choice in the matter. I’ve taught high school for years even at their age, they seem to glow and engage when I simply say, “Now you’re thinking,” or “I can see that you’ve thought about this,” or “good thinking.” Left to her own devices – Sophie came up with a good – all be it funny conclusion. Happy shopping Mom! Many years of it to come..

  21. Loved the Post! My daughter had the same shoes and they were adorable and lasted all summer. Just wait until she is a tween-ager and EVERYTHING on the shelves is designed to make them look like a 16 year old prostitute! It is horrible!

  22. Just stopped in from SITS. I loved shopping with my mom as a little girl. Honestly, that’s why if I ever have kids, I want a girl 😉

  23. This is clever. As long as I can still outsmart my children, there’s hope, I think. You’re my kind of mom! Just wait–they grow into teenagers, you know. I got a new humor book out of each decade with my children. A rich, rich writing well, lots of little character-building adventures. I enjoyed myself on your blog!

  24. Finding the size 9’s….brilliant idea! I’m gonna have to remember that one. I remember the horrors of dress shopping with my mom for proms and weddings and such. I shudder to think what the future holds for my daughter and me at the mall 10 years from now.

  25. I am so glad that Baguette has not yet learned that we could, in fact, buy those Elmo shoes and take them home with us, even if they are too small for her. She was just happy that she saw them.

  26. I don’t think I’ve ever had a mother-daughter shoe shopping expedition that went well. At least not that I can remember. In fact, the only one I can remember right now was shoe shopping for the prom, in which mother decided she needed to go to every store in the mall even though daughter had found something appropriate in the first store… ::sigh::

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *