just a mom figuring it out one day at a time

Back To School

Growing up I always remembered going back to school after Labor Day, but now it seems that summer is barely ending and school is starting. My childhood memories are of crisp mornings, warm days, a new pair of shoes and freshly sharpened pencils.

Being from an average middle class family, I had some new things and many hand-me-downs. Very basic school supplies were purchased and there was excitement over the “new smell” of everything bought, even the paper. My family tried to reuse what it could, from year to year. If there was paper left over from the year prior, it was expected that we would put it aside and use it the following year. My husband and I have compared experiences and were both similar in the need to conserve our resources because there wasn’t necessarily money to go out and get “new” all the time. Somehow, things seem different now.

Financially we are different than our parents, but we both see the need to conserve where we can- especially in these uncertain times. How can we best to teach this to our kids? Sure we “recycle” and our children wear hand-me downs and we gather things to hand-down to others, but I am talking beyond that.

Recently when I took my son school shopping, I asked him about his plastic pencil box and what condition it was in. CJ painted the picture that top was broken such that it no longer closed very well and that he really needed a new one. So, he picked out a snazzy metal looking box with clasps and I mistakenly believed him and purchased it. Not that this was a bank breaker or even really a big deal. I could easily see how the $1.99 pencil box from the year prior had broken, as do many things in our very disposable society.

To my surprise when we packed up his backpack for school, I saw the fully intact old pencil box. Looking at me, he knew that he had been caught. After a fairly pathetic explanation, CJ admitted that his pencil box was still OK. When I asked him why he misrepresented the truth he said, “I don’t know I just wanted the new box.”

So this became a teaching tool on so many levels… how lying is not the best way to get what you want but also the lesson about taking care of our things so that we conserve our resources. The latter of which I think is even harder to teach. So many things today are disposable and/or provide instant gratification. I am still trying to work out how to reinforce with my kids why it is important to take care of what you have. How it makes sense to do this and reuse where possible, rather than constantly getting new just because you can. It’s a challenge, but at this point I think it is just continuing to reinforcing the point wherever possible… like filling up your 3 year old backpack with your new school supplies because the backpack is still in good condition.

For anyone looking… here are some sites for finding the best deals:




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