How I Avoid Back to a Back to School Shopping Nightmare
Back to school time is always nuts around my house. I’ve got two children in elementary school, one wrapping up his last year of middle school and, if I find a school I like, I’ll have one in preschool this year.
My head is already swimming just thinking about it all. I may have to lie down for a moment.
Coordinating the back to school shopping is just as insane. Every year I gather up school lists and head to the store, hoping and praying I can still get a good deal on crayons. Whenever possible though, I stock up on those items because it’s inevitable that one of the kids will bring a project home that requires glue, coloring, or cutting. So scissors, glue, and crayons and even rulers are a staple here at home as well as at school.
One of the things that has helped me is to go through the kids’ items that they brought home at the end of last year and see what condition everything is in. Yes, some of you are cringing right now at the thought of reusing school supplies, but let’s look at it this way: do you really want to buy scissors or rulers every year?
Me neither, but I know some people who do (and it makes no sense to me).
So every year I gather up supply lists and supplies from last year and look everything over and go through my own mental checklist, ranging from “is the item in good condition?” to “are all the colors there?” In the case of colored pencils, the kids rarely use them up so if they are on the school supply list and they are all there, I will let the kids reuse them. If I determine that we need to purchase something new, then it stays on the list.
The same goes for book bags and backpacks. We have an assortment here at home that someone either bought for the kids or I bought. Unless there are holes in them, the zippers are broken or something is functionally wrong with them, the kids reuse them. When it comes to buying a backpack, I look at price and durability. I tend not to buy the ones that are on rollers because the kids have a lot of stairs in their elementary school and I can just see them dragging the bag up the steps instead of pushing the bar in and wearing it to go upstairs. It won’t last one year. For a couple of years, until Bug went off to middle school and became too cool to use a character backpack, the boys would trade back and forth.
Since the kids have a lot of repeat items on their lists, I simply make a master list and write how many of each item we need. For instance notebooks are a common item, even in 2nd grade. Since Bug needed notebooks for nearly every class in middle school and Bebe and Shorty each needed two, I simply wrote down 10 notebooks. The same thing for folders, packs of paper and markers. This way I am not looking back and forth at each child’s list to make sure I didn’t forget anything.
Overall I try not to stress too much about back to school. If I stress then the kids start stressing, and we don’t get anywhere when that happens.
However, if you can get to the store to get the items on your school supply lists without the kids, I highly recommend it. Otherwise, stop in the medicine isle and pick up a bottle of ibuprofen… you’ll need it.