Today I went shoe shopping. I would like to tell you that I browsed beautiful heeled footwear to choose something to go with a new party outfit. But that would be a lie. I did recently buy myself some new shoes. Well actually my husband ordered me some on line as the pair I was wearing were literally falling apart. The soles were flapping dangerously in my wake. My only criteria were waterproof, pull cord laces, and…no that’s it. My life is such that I like shoes I can merely pull on and go.

The last time I bought fun shoes was….hmm….I think it was for a ball around nine years ago. They are still in good nick. I don’t go to many party events.

So Imelda Marcos I am not….

My children, however, are much more high maintenance footwear wise.

To be fair I guess some of it is to do with growing. They can’t really help that although I wish they would…just….stop…

And some of it is to do with the school. Again not really their fault.

And some of it is because they are fussy. They can help this. But don’t.

And so I am shoe shopping for three footwear hungry children.

Every summer we face this nightmare. It begins with my spreadsheet. Yes that is right, my spreadsheet. Date, measurement, type of footwear, notes…. I then persuade them to try on all their current footwear after I have unearthed it from games bags, PE bags, the garage etc to see which pairs may last another year or term. I then colour code my spreadsheet with yellow for ‘needs checking’ and orange for ‘too small’…

I literally cannot keep track of my off springs’ footwear without Excel. It may be anal but it avoids realising the day before a Cub Camp when rain is forecast that you have no wellies in the right size. And such like.

You may think that once we have a foot measurement then all shoes would be the same size. But no, one has to factor in different socks. School socks, football/rugby socks, PE socks, bare feet, weekend trainer socks. And then the manufacturers seem to feel the need to make shoes that don’t conform to the standard sizes. Nike for instance come up really small and narrow. Add in thick socks and a child can need two sizes larger than their school shoes would suggest.

At the bottom of my spreadsheet is a list of spare shoes. What type, their size and their location in the house. I really ought to check this list before going shopping but that doesn’t always happen.

Then we embark on step two. An appointment at a well known shoe shop. I have stopped just turning up after my all time record of waiting for 90 minutes to be served. The wait was made worse because I was being gazumped by more organised parents with appointments. I am now that more organised parent. And those waiters must hate me with my three kids.

At least now I usually remember to take the right socks. And the old shoes. In case the gauge suggests they can be salvaged.

And talking of gauges the casual holiday workers employed in the summer months by this well known shoe shop now use I pads to measure feet. I mistrust them. Intensely. I once spent a summer being that casual worker fitting kids shoes in a famous department store. I wore a badge declaring that I was a ‘Trained Fitter’. If training equates to a tour of the stock room and a basic introduction to measuring tools then yes I guess I was trained. So when that teenager approaches me I am not fooled into thinking they have any idea what they are doing.

Eldest usually goes first. After the ‘fitter’ has regained his composure after smelling his horrendous feet we get going. Referring constantly to my spreadsheet and manually updating it. Today I am not lucky. Over a hundred quid later and all three have new black school shoes and Youngest has trainers for home wear. I got £5 off those. Mini whoop.

All three are in the same style as last time. They are awkward. Eldest has very narrow feet (D) and his right foot is a whole inch longer than his left. Middlest has wide feet but they are very shallow so most styles pucker on top of his foot and dig in nastily. Youngest will not wear anything she considers too girly and I will only countenance patent leather as they wear so well, and she needs to be able to play football in them. Even though school insists on outdoor trainers for playtime (another frankly pointless row on my spreadsheet) these are not worn before school when she seems to spend the half hour or so in the playground pretending to be Messi or some one. If boys shoes came in patent they would be in it too….

I gird my loins for step three. A well known sport’s kit retailer. According to my spreadsheet we still need two pairs of rugby boots (Eldest and Middlest), two pairs of weekend trainers (Eldest and Middlest- who will no longer countenance Clarks for such items), two pairs of PE trainers (Eldest and Youngest- who is a decent runner and therefore needs reasonable ones), one pair of Astros (Youngest, hockey) and one pair of football boots (Youngest, football). According to my spreadsheet those football boots could be covered by my ‘spares’ section. And the Astros could be covered by the Home Trainers recently discarded by Middlest. Negotiations open.

I don’t really do that well. I get agreement to very cheap rugby boots. So the search begins amongst the ‘pile em high flog em cheap’ section for football boots with unscrewable studs. We do OK here. I know I have rugby studs at home unscrewed from last year’s wrecked boots so don’t buy more. Mistake. We only have enough for one and a quarter pairs.

Then we meander over to the Nike section were I am suckered into new home trainers, a pair of Astros and a pair of football boots. Eldest and Middlest are going to contribute to the footwear. Middlest from his upcoming birthday money (hmm as a banker ‘Anticipating One’s Salary’ (that is going overdrawn before pay day) was a sackable offence) and Eldest from his rapidly diminishing X Box fund. Youngest argues quite reasonably to my addled mind that she can use those ‘spare’ boots for her school club and new ones for her out of school football club. And the Astros just got in under the radar. The radar was clearly not set to colour mode as they are an eye wateringly neon pink- a shock to me as usually she eschews anything pink.

The process takes about an hour as finding an assistant to find you the right size, or more often than not finding an assistant to go away and return to tell you they don’t have the right size is difficult. We strike gold today and get a decent one with a walkie talkie and minions to scurry but even so it’s busy and he is harassed. We have to change tack many times which causes angst for the kids who have their heart set on bright purple Magisatas with orange laces or some other such monstrosity but finally all are happy with their decisions. None care that their new footwear will not ‘go’ with any clothes they possess.

He puts my many, many purchases behind the desk because we have to go downstairs to the running shoe/trainer section. For those PE trainers. Youngest tries on a pair in a 1. They are too big. The less useful downstairs assistant finally tells me they don’t have a 13 in that style. So we find another of the same brand but a bit more expensive and get the 13 which is too small. So we get the 1 which finally works.

Meanwhile Eldest can’t find any style that comes in a 6. The Juniors seem to end at 5 and a half. And most of the men’s start at 7. We lose the will. He thinks the pair he wore for cricket still fit. They aren’t on my spreadsheet which makes me panic a bit, but I decide to trust his memory, after all mine is failing, and we go to pay.

Back upstairs for the painful part. The checkout girl finds my pile of footwear. Laboriously checking each pair for a match, taking the security tags off the pile em high cheapies and trying to sell me reusable bags and bizarrely mugs.

We go home. I spray them all with protector, name label them and put them in the right bags. I order Eldest a pair of running shoes on line as, although he did indeed have a pair of trainers that according to me don’t exist, they were too small. I add in a bag of rugby studs and we appear to be good to go.

I spend part of the evening updating my spreadsheet, storing new spares in the garage and trying to think of creative ways to use 10 shoe boxes.

We may be lucky and last a whole year before we need to go through this process again. But I doubt it. Joy….