Back to school shopping with teens is an experience we were not ready for a few years ago. Prior to teenage-hood, back to school shopping was sort of sweet and easy. We pretty much picked out what the girls would wear, and having the gay fashion genes helped us style them right. But now? We’ve learned some valuable lessons and are here to share tips on back to school shopping with teens. And sometimes it ain’t pretty.

Now the girls have very decisive opinions about everything from style to color to cut to accessories. I guess we raised them well in the style department, but we have to be careful or that will come back to bite us! These days back to school shopping with teens could be a battle field. However, we’ve learned some tips to make our way very carefully across this dangerous minefield.

girl shopping in Puerto Vallarta outdoor bazaar

Even in foreign lands, our kids find a way to shop with the excuse that it’s for school.

5 Tips for Back to School Shopping With Teens

You too can make it across! Just follow these simple tips for back to school shopping with teens.

  1. Have a budget.

For all that is holy, do not ever start shopping with a teenager (especially one of our daughters) without a budget. Most teen girls have no idea what is appropriate to spend. You may be in for quite the surprise if you set off on a shopping excursion without reigning in the budget. We give our girls at total amount to spend, and then it’s like a math equation for them to add up their purchases and stay within budget.

Photo courtesy of Nattakorn Maneerat

  1. Make a list of needs and wants.

Use this as an opportunity to help your teenager define wants versus needs. Also, help them prioritize the items on their list. Maybe snow boots can wait, but gym shoes for PE on the first day can’t! Have the kids go through their closest and take a current inventory of what still works and what is now needed. This is one of the most important tips on back to school shopping with teens. (No teen needs multiple variations on the same pair of Nikes).

  1. Compare shopping online first. 

Your child is probably on his/her phone all day anyway, so tell them to go online to the stores you plan to visit. This way, they can see ahead of time what items are available. They can also add things to the cart or take screenshots so they can easily find them once you’re in the store. You may get lucky and find your teenager just wants to click and ship their back to school wardrobe to your front door. Win/win!

Photo courtesy of Halfpoint

  1. Make them spend their own money.

When back to school shopping with teens, it is helpful if they have some skin in the game. If they have money from babysitting, raking leaves or birthdays, have them spend that on the things they want. Help them understand the bigger picture of your family budget and then ask them to contribute by picking up the tab for some items if they can. We use this back to school shopping tip to focus them on priorities of want versus need. (See #2).

  1. Get help.

One thing we have learned in our years of parenting is that sometimes you have to call in the reinforcements. Being a family of 2 gay dads, we know we don’t always have the right information or experience to be everything for our girls. Shopping for bras and panties? Yeah, two men are not so good in that department. So we ask for advice from women friends. We read blogs and laugh at memes and ask questions in private Facebook groups. There’s no shame in asking for help.

girl shopping for makeup at Sephora

Our girls never met a makeup counter they didn’t like.

3 Products to Add to Your Back to School List

Now that you know some good tips on back to school shopping with teens, what are some of the necessities you should buy? Make sure you have a list from their school for specific items they need. Go over their needs/wants list and make a plan for what you will buy right now.

After all that, consider adding these 3 items to your list. Both you and your teenager will be glad you did!

  1. A good backpack.

It is crazy how much some backpacks cost. Long gone are the days when you can pick one up at the corner store for $10 and have it last for a year. Those cheap backpacks won’t last for a week (that is if your teenager will even be caught dead carrying it!) We really like the backpacks from Fenrici because they are durable, super cute and well-made. Plus this is a company that gives back! The product sales help support families suffering with rare pediatric diseases. Starting around $30, they are a fantastic deal.

Photo courtesy of Fenrici Backpacks

  1. Power banks.

The ChargeHub HomeBase Power Bank Docking Station is an at-home charging station that can power the whole family on-the-go! This Docking Station charges 4 power banks PLUS one additional device using the USB Charging Port. Each power bank has a durable aluminum case and is color-coordinated with a metallic-finish for easy identification. Everyone can grab an extra power bank on the way out the door in the morning. If it’s one thing teenagers need, more ways to charge up their phone is near the top of the list. These power banks have a powerful 4000 mAh battery capacity which will keep your devices charged throughout the day. We also like how the storage drawer conveniently stores cables away and maintains an organized space. $59.99

Photo courtesy of ChargeHub Home Base

  1. Athletic gear.

Regardless of if your teenager is the star on the football team or just barely made JV track, they want to look good while their working out. Having quality athletic gear that is sweat-resistant is also key for teens who often smell a bit…ripe. Dick’s Sporting Goods just launched their own line, called DSG, of sports gear that is just fantastic. It is super high quality yet substantially lower priced than name brand competitors. Look for t-shirts starting around $10 and athletic shorts around $15. (Download their app for even more ways to save.)

Photo courtesy of Maria Smith

Whether you are back to school shopping with teens for the first time or the 10th, I hope 2 gay dads’ tips on back to school shopping with teens will help you through. Godspeed.