No Shame in the Swap Shop

It’s back to school for South Africans on Wednesday and that means very tight belt-straps for families who’ve been kitting-out their kids.

In 2106 it will cost a parent around R1 000 to get the basic uniform and phys-ed kit for their child. This is just the summer uniform. Then there’s the school fees and the stationery. Sometime near the end of January, once books have been covered and glitter-pens-cos-everyone-else-has-them purchased, parents will breathe a collective sigh of relief and perhaps even plan a date night … and then sports teams are chosen!

Running shoes, spikes, Speedos, goggles, silicon bathing caps. “Ok – done. Phew.”Not so fast, parents – that was just the inter-house kit. Brace yourselves for inter-school and, heaven forbid, provincial! (The ballet and tap parents fall into a category of debt all of their own, so I’m not even going to mention them in this blog.)  Then there’s Term Two and a whole plethora of new team sports and the requisite kits. And, sometimes (OFTEN) the wearers of said kits GROW during said Term (insert scary face emoticon)!

My nephew, raised by my mother after my darling sister passed away at the end of his Grade 7 year, grew five shoes sizes in his Grade 11 year. FIVE! Do the mental arithmetic; insert any random shoe cost for up to a size eleven men’s shoe: 5 x pairs school shoes, 5 x pairs running shoes, 5 x pairs soccer boots, 5 x pairs tennis shoes, cricket shoes, track shoes, casual shoes … And that’s just the shoes.

How parents do it these days I honestly don’t know. I will tackle the school uniforms have/don’t have discussion in another post. But, after 2016 and the doodie it doled out for most of us, my advice is …

… the school swap shop is your friend!

All schools have them. If you don’t already take your still-have-life-in-them uniforms in, please start. Go check them out before forking out upwards of R450 for a new blazer with sleeves that could end up halfway up your child’s arms by March. Not only will your pocket thank you, the environment will, too.


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