Let me preface this post by saying it’s not intended for those overachieving parents out there who had their back to school supply completed in early in July. No, this post is geared toward those of us who have meandered our way through summer break only to realize that if we don’t shop soon, the shelves will be picked clean.
I know you’re familiar with the scene. Dazed parents, carts and lists in hand, battling each other in the overcrowded aisles to get the next item on the list. Kids dashing from area to area looking at the latest items for school—especially those that they do not need.
If you can take a tranquilizer (just kidding), or meditate before going, you might be in a better frame of mind to enter the school supply zone. If you can’t, here are five ways to help make the process saner:
1. Take your school lists and reorganize them. If your kid’s school is anything like my kids’ school, the school has lists for each grade and even lists for specials. There are often items—like boxes of tissues or hand sanitizer—that appear on both lists. By grouping them together, you are less likely to have to come back to the same area a second time.
2. Have your kids pull out all of their supplies for the year before. You would be surprised how much your children still have from the year before. Where possible, reuse the supplies you have and then replenish as necessary through the year. It will not only save you money, but teaches your children to respect and conserve the resources that they have. Another tip… unless a class specifically states getting a “paper” folder, I suggest getting the plastic kind. The plastic folders hold up better than the paper and can be used from year to year.
3. Select the store that you think has the greatest likelihood to have most, if not all, of the needed supplies. This may be difficult, but I would start with the store that you think you might be able to find the greatest quantity of items. This may sound obvious, but it has to be said. I actually went to a store a little further north in town specifically because a parent told me they were less crowded and had a better supply that the one closer in. It may initially be a little inconvenient to drive a bit further, but I would much rather drive to one place than jump from store to store.
4. Go to the store during off hours. If you can, go when the store opens or later—perhaps after dinner—when they are likely to be the least crowded.
5. Ideally go to the store WITHOUT your kids. I know, your kids want a say in what folder color they are getting or pencil type, but honestly kids slow you down and inevitably they are going to ask for something “cool” they see which (1) is not on the list and (2) they don’t need. This helps you conserve time, reduces stress and unnecessary spending.
In my perfect world, I would schedule a time to go with one of my friends—without kids—and make a morning of it. Misery loves company, right? I didn’t do it this year, but maybe I’ll do it next year. Every year I get a little bit smarter.
Good luck out there!