She Says… Old Shoes, New Shoes

Owen and his little buddies at school have this rhyme they sing at circle time. “Old shoes, new shoes, ____ is wearing ____ shoes!”. They go around and name each kid and describe their shoes. It’s quite cute. And you would think, after all of this singing about old shoes and new shoes, that when the time came to retire Owen’s old shoes in lieu of new shoes that he would be ready and willing.

You would be wrong.

Owen and I went shoe shopping on Labor Day and it was a total bust. Now, first of all, I will take full responsibility for planning our shoe shopping date on the worst possible day at the worst possible time. I had both boys to take care of singlehandedly and it was about a million degrees out, so I opted to take them to the air conditioned mall rather than a boiling hot playground. Unfortunately, being that it was a holiday Monday and very few things were open and NO ONE wanted to be outside, everyone and their brother (and son and daughter) were at the mall. Apparently with the exact same plan that I had: Play at the playplace and burn off some energy, then hit up Stride Rite before coming home for lunch and a nap.

So, for starters, the playplace was a MADHOUSE. I’ve never seen so many screaming, running, barefoot children in one small, rubber-covered space. Ew. Still, Owen loves running around there, so I gritted my teeth, covered my sleeping baby’s stroller with a blanket in hopes of protecting him from the chaos, and pretended to enjoy myself. After letting Owen run like crazy for 40 minutes or so, I lured him out, got his shoes on and we headed for Stride Rite.

I was pretty proud of myself for surviving the first half of our errand without a meltdown and naively thought that the shoe-buying part would be the easy part.

Wrong again.

It seems that everyone who had just been playing at the playplace had also made a mad dash to Stride Rite to pick out new shoes for the upcoming school year. The tiny store was so crowded I could barely step in, let alone maneuver my stroller in there (holding my now-awake-and-getting-cranky baby). I sidestepped our way in to at least see if we could measure Owen’s feet and realized after about 10 minutes that it was going to be a LONG time until we were helped. In that time, Owen had picked up and fallen in love with no fewer than 4 Spiderman shoes. Spiderman was not exactly on my “to buy” list (for style mainly, but can we talk about how expensive those shoes are too?!).

I reached my boiling point (literally and figuratively) and grabbed Owen and the stroller in one fell swoop and bailed completely on shoe shopping. That’s when I knew what I would do. I would go to my usual no-fail shopping spot. Amazon. Or Target. Or the consignment store down the street.

After a quick search based on what I had learned at the shoe store (I think Owen is a size 8, and he thinks all sneakers are “too tight” because he’s not used to wearing them), I found these adorable kicks.


Teeny tiny Saucony sneaks for a fraction of the Stride Rite price. Score.

They arrived last night, and this morning while I woke Emmett up I heard Benjamin attempting to get Owen to put them on. Oh, the whining. You would have thought Benjamin was trying to get him to wear a shirt made of thorns.

Does every child hate new shoes? I can’t even tell if they fit properly because he doesn’t want to put them on. Veteran Mamas, what is the secret? Will he just get over it? (My gut says yes, because lately he’s been whining about all kinds of things that he actually likes, and he gets over it pretty quickly). Any tips for making the shoe switcheroo? His sandals are going to get very chilly when the fall weather actually comes.

And, while we’re at it, where do you get your kids’ shoes? Do you let them pick out their shoes themselves even if you hate the ones they pick?


17 responses to “She Says… Old Shoes, New Shoes

  1. Elizabeth McCracken

    IMO he will probably get over it quickly, especially if you let it go and just keep the shoes out in a conspicuous place. My daughter will put any shoes on, as long as she can put them on HERSELF. That is key. Shoes are rejected if she can’t do it independently. And if Owen refuses and just continues to wear sandals, he will quickly learn that it’s cold out and people wear sneakers when it’s cold!

    And worse case scenario, you go back and get the spiderman shoes. They may be ugly and expensive, but if he wears them….

    Good luck!

  2. I bet you’re right that he’ll get over it. That said, Meredith is in a very particular phase with shoes and clothes (and let’s be honest, it’s probably more like the beginning of the rest of our lives than a phase…) so I pretty much need to let her pick everything out herself. Once she’s decided she doesn’t like something, it’s nearly impossible to convince her otherwise. I think shoes are the hardest for this because of the exact situation you experienced. I avoid the mall with two kids like the plague. My worst nightmare. I’m actually not sure I’ve done it yet πŸ˜‰ Currently her shoes are just from Target because she could pick them out (and I definitely steered her away from character shoes!). She needs new sneakers so I will most likely sit with her on amazon or nordstrom online and have her help me pick them. I’ve also had friends that order several pairs and have their child pick on and then return the rest. I think that’s a good idea, except for the time part! Good luck! And I bet you’re right that he’ll get over it soon!

  3. I love how you posted this, Kate! I struggle with shoes all of the time.
    Yes, my 3 year old hates the entire new shoe process with every fiber of her little being (really is life that hard?). I never know how best to handle.
    In the past, we have gone to Stride Rite to get measured and then purchase from there. I usually end up with Saucony’s, but then annoyed later because I could have saved a ton of money on them if I was able to buy them at Zappos. But, I need someone to measure her feet. Sigh. The process is not working for us. I can’t wait to hear some advice!

  4. With my 3 y/o I told him that we had to give his old shoes to another boy who needed them, that they were now too small for him. It took two days and he was completely over the old shoes and only wanted to wear the new ones.

  5. First of all, I commend you for lasting 40 minutes in the mall play area. I HATE that place! Too many wild kids climbing up on things that aren’t meant to be climbed on, getting in the way of other kids, running out of control, etc. I think 5 minutes is my max in there!

    Generally we get shoes at Stride Rite. The last time I was there was a bit of a bad experience as no one would really help us, and it wasn’t even that busy.

    As to getting my son to wear his new shoes, generally he does well with the transition, but he hasn’t been too keen on his sandals this summer, instead preferring to wear his old shoes. Not sure if he doesn’t find them comfy or if it’s typical 2-3 year old behaviour.

  6. I think my son is one of the few that gets excited about new shoes. Then again, he gets excited about anything new that he gets, soooooo. I almost always buy Eli’s tennis shoes online. New Balance are my favorite for my fat & short footed toddler (he wears a 7.5 at almost 3.5 years, and flip flops never fit him because his feet are chunky!), but right now he has Adidas and I’m happy with them so far. When I order him shoes I have him stand on a pad of paper and I trace his foot (he thinks it’s fun… and he traces my foot, too) and measure it and go off of that for the size (check the sizing chart for each brand… and then I usually order a half size up for growth). I search around online for sales, but I usually end up using either or zappos. I pick a shoe and then let Eli pick the color.

    One of the best things about ordering shoes? They come in the mail… and what kid doesn’t love getting mail and opening the box?

  7. Dude. Just let him get the gaudy ugly shoes he wants and then there is no battle. You get to style the baby however you want, but once they have opinions about things, it’s better to let them pick their own stuff. I let my toddler pick out her own shoes at Target. That’s why we always have the horrible pink sequin ones, but I also never have to argue with her to put them on. It’s “TIME FOR MY PINK SPARKLE SHOES!” every morning.

    Kids are insane.

  8. It might be worth a trip back to Stride rite on a quiet day to get his feet measured. They should be able to tell you what size he is (of course) but then also to tell you what size you should get (which are not always the same thing). Our stride rite has recommended going up a half or full size, depending on how old and tall she is. Whether or not there’s a science there, I don’t know, but I can say that when we’ve measured our daughter’s feet on the target rulers and bought her shoes that should fit, she refuses to put them on and howls that they are too tight. Going up a size works.

  9. I have a shoe obsessed 2 year old and what worked for us was calling his “sneaks” his “fast” shoes. However this worked to a fault- he will only wear “fast” shoes. We bought a new pair in black to match more outfits etc. and when he wanted his old stinky ones we told him they were “football” shoes. He is obsessed with all sports. From reading your post maybe they are his “climbing” shoes? Good luck.

  10. My daughter sometimes freaks out on us when we are changing seasons and the clothes and shoes are different, yes. Last year, I distinctly remember numerous tantrums over having to wear a sweatshirt/long sleeves. And all she wanted to wear were her Crocs and other sandals, NOT sneakers or any other real shoe. Then, this spring? The girl could not handle NOT wearing socks. It’s going to be 80 degrees and she’s wearing sandals? Who cares, she wanted socks.

    In all cases, she eventually got over it. Just keep trying. πŸ™‚

  11. First time commenter!

    I just went last weekend for my 3 year old. First, I drew his foot on a piece of paper and brought that with me to measure – I left him at home. I went to famous footwear and the shoes were Buy one get on half off…I actually got the same blue saucony’s you got then got these light up spiderman for half off – so about $50 for two pairs of shoes. So far he has only wore the spiderman’s of course but was hoping the saucony’s can be “weekend” shoes and spiderman “daycare” shoes.

    also i thought my son was an 8 since last spring he was a 7 but he is actually a 9.

  12. We just went through this same thing! Keira has worn crocs everyday for the last 4 or 5 months. She needed some kind of sneaker for soccer (and just for wearing). I usually go with zappos and just guess on the size; with free fast shipping and returns you can always adjust if you get it wrong. This time though I tried this independent shoe store in Lexington center – I figured I was supporting a local business and all:) And it was actually relatively painless. We got adorable velcro New Balance sneakers that were not cheap, but they fit and are character-free. Hope Owen enjoys his new kicks! πŸ™‚

  13. eh, let him pick out what he wants… he will always be excited and eager to wear them!!!!

  14. OK, I actually have a lot to say on this particular issue. Mainly because, for once, I actually think that the Irish have it right when it comes to fitting children’s shoes. First off, let me say that it’s a pretty big deal to have correct fitting shoes for kids. We, as adults, know exactly how shoes feel on our feet. We know if they are a bit too small or big and have the luxury of being able to try on many pairs and of buying the most comfortable. I will never buy shoes on line for my kids because you can never really know how they fit. The only way to know is if you are dealing with a professional. Here, in our local children’s shoe store they spend a great deal of time with each child, finding the best fitting pair of shoes. In fact, I have actually been turned away before because they didn’t have anything that fit perfectly, and was told to come back in a few weeks when they got a new shipment. OK–I guess that is a bit over the top, but in actuality I always know leaving that shop that I got the best possible shoes for my kid. Sure there’s the basic shoe size you are dealing with. But you are also looking at width, instep, etc. When I was home in the States over the summer I went to a discount bargain shoe shop, hoping to find a deal. When they only measured ONE of my daughter’s feet I knew they clearly weren’t very capable. Feet can be different sizes. And you need to buy shoes to fit the larger foot. I also have to gripe about buying second hand shoes. Don’t do it! And don’t pass on shoes to siblings. Shoes mold themselves to a foot and and if you try to put a shoe that one child has worn for several months on to someone with a completely different foot it doesn’t work! OK–that’s my two cents about shoes. I know some people might read this and think I’m crazy, but I firmly believe that fitting children’s shoes is a bit of a science and needs to be taken seriously. My suggestion? (Other than coming to Ireland to visit me and get Owen shoes here
    πŸ˜‰ Go to a proper children’s shoe store when it isn’t so crazy and make sure you get him shoes that fit him correctly and that are comfortable to him! BTW–it is true that after wearing sandals all summer, sneakers feel very constrictive to kids. If you are positive that these shoes are the correct size have Owen wear them just around the house for an hour or so every day ( you could make them special “indoor shoes”, since usually you take your shoes off inside). This will help break them in and get him used to them.
    Good Luck–and don’t think I’m too crazy for going on for so long about shoes! πŸ˜‰

  15. Apparently I am not alone dealing with this issue πŸ™‚ Thank you all for your comments and suggestions!

    Owen made this issue a non-issue when he woke up the next morning and said, “I’m going to wear my blue shoes today.”. When he was upset I said to him, “Wear your sandals today and you can wear your blue shoes tomorrow”. Apparently he heard me and just needed a little heads up about the shoe change. Funny kid.

    @Amy, Thank you! Once he put them on I totally sold them as his “fast shoes” and now he shows everyone how fast he can run πŸ™‚ Genius.

    @Lily, This is so interesting! I had honestly never given it that much thought. You make so many good points and I am interested to see what a good shoe salesperson would tell us.

  16. Excellent article. I’m going through some of these issues as well..

  17. So glad to hear the surgery went well and you are starting to feel better! When Maya first started to wear “real” sneakers, we went to Stride Rite, got fitted, with her screaming the whole time, and walked out with a $50 pair of Stride Rite sneakers. After days and days of her screaming when I put them on, my parents were kind enough to take her back with them, where a different salesperson told her that Nike’s were a better fit for her foot, and we exchanged the shoes for equally-priced Nike’s. Fortunately, she wore them without complain. Once she outgrew those, I happened to spot kids Nike’s for half price at Nordstrom Rack and Century 21 (do you have those stores by you)? I feel a lot better spending $25 on shoes she will out grow in one season! For more “novelty” shoes (rather than her everyday sneakers), such as dress shoes, we go to Payless, usually the BOGO sale. I usually pop there on my way home from work and buy several pairs, so I can try them on her at home. I’d rather have to go back and return a few pairs than drag her to the shoe store for a fitting!

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