It seems as though summer vacation just started and suddenly here we are about a month out before school starts again.
It seems so long ago that my kids were in school. I’m even more aware of it because of the moms groups I work with. Talk about back-to-school sales, what uniforms to wear and where to get them seems to dominate Facebook posts and gatherings at playdates and book club meetings.
Stores are advertising their “deals” earlier and earlier it seems. I wish they had done that years ago when my kids were in school because I would have been one of those crazy people dancing down the aisle singing “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” while nonchalantly tossing pens, pencils and glue into my shopping cart at the local office supply store, clicking my heels up in the air smiling from ear to ear at the thought of getting my sanity back for six hours a day while my kids were in school.
Getting a head start is going to be easier on you and your budget. It is amazing to me how parents will go into a panic the week before school starts, rushing to the mall to get clothing, stocking up on bulk items and school supplies and in the end, because they’re not thinking their purchases out clearly and they’re not taking the time to compare prices, they end up spending way more than they need to. In today’s economy, this is just not a wise thing to do.
During my 14 years of having children in school, I learned a few things about back-to-school shopping. Nothing really earth shattering, but it will probably keep you from stressing out at least a little bit so read on as I try to make this the “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” for you:
1) Shop for the basics now. You know that they will need pencils, glue or glue sticks, Kleenex, crayons, scissors and paper. This is going to eliminate you having to climb over people the evening after the first day of school trying to get the essentials. If your school is kind enough to publish a supply list ahead (and many schools now have them up and ready for your viewing) then get your hands on that list and get moving!
2) If you’re blessed with a teen or pre-teen and the school they attend doesn’t require a uniform, make it clear to your child that although you’d love to send them to school with the trendiest designer labels, your budget is set and they have limits. (Yes I said a dirty word – limits.) There’s no reason to go into debt every fall when your child is shopping for back-to-school clothing. Start looking now. In fact, I would have them pick out their favorite pieces in their existing wardrobe and ask them what types of things they’d like to add to make new outfits out of those clothes that they love to wear. Let them know that they are allowed to buy “x” amount of clothes and that’s it. Don’t succumb to the hormonal dramatics and the ever popular phrase of “Mom, if I don’t have it, I’ll look like a freak!” line. Trust me, my kids learned that clothes from the latest most popular trendy store were not going to be in their wardrobe the first day of school in abundance. As they got older and had allowances or jobs, they were required to contribute to their clothing budget. Or when all else failed, they called Grandma and Grandpa who rushed over with a check immediately because they would never want their grandchildren to do without something. (Lord help me because I know I’ll be the same exact way when I have grandchildren.)
3) Start now to stock up on things that the kids will be taking in their lunches on a regular basis. Granola bars, snack size bags of chips and cookies, juice boxes and whatever else they like to eat that is non-perishable can be purchased now while they are on sale at the grocery store. You don’t need to rush out and buy in bulk the week before school. Of course I am going to encourage you to use your coupons because I LOVE a good deal.
4) Don’t wait until the night before school to get everything ready for your child. Once you’ve got your purchases, set aside their respective backpacks and put their supplies in the backpack now. Why you ask? Because ultimately, if you wait until the night before I can guarantee you that your child is going to forget something because a bag of supplies you bought was forgotten in the hall closet. Keep your purchases together in one place and think of it almost like you’re stuffing Christmas stockings.
My last word of advice is this: a few days before school starts, get your other mom friends on the phone or contact them by email and make plans to have breakfast out together the first day of school once the kids have gotten on the bus. After all, it’s Independence Day for moms all over the country! Routine will have returned, you will have charge of your house again and life will be back to normal.
Ah, the good old days ... how I miss them.