I love autumn and all the back to school stuff that goes along with it. Cooler days. New supplies. Routine. I crave it all. But I rein myself in when it comes to the gargantuan lists that schools send out. And all the new school clothes ads.
Never a fan of all the character products, my kids are used to my “no” in response to the cheaply made Barbie backpack. I often order backpacks and lunchboxes from quality retailers like LL Bean and Lands End. These places make rugged stuff and stand by it. Consequently I only need backpacks for the kids every other year, if that. If one wears out, we replace it. Not before.
Before buying pencils, folders and notebooks, we check my stash of extras. I have two boxes of pencils and pens. No doubt a dozen good ones can be found for each child. Folders? Plenty on the shelf. Notebooks? There is over half a case left from last year. Scissors and pencil case? Get out last years.
My kids don’t really mind. They don’t complain. And that means that when they do ask for something special, I can indulge them.
I think the biggest part of this is the conscious effort I make to lower my kids’ expectations in this area. Once my girl was disappointed that her folders were just the plain ones. I explained that they made a great place to doodle. It didn’t take long for her to fill that folder with her art, making it uniquely hers. When your pencil doesn’t come out of a box of 24 yellow #2s, it is easy to see if Tommy really did steal your favorite pencil.
I don’t like to waste money or supplies that still have some use. Stocking up is done when there is a fantastic deal. I once bought the “cool” folders with “stuff” on them for 9 cents a piece in February. Kleenex is stockpiled when the sales start and I have coupons.
In short, what works for me when it comes to getting ready to go back to school, is keeping my kids from buying into the back-to-school shopping hype. When they can be sure they’ll get what they need, when they need it, they learn that just because there are 17 aisles devoted to something doesn’t mean we need much of it.
We are THAT Family has a great many back-to-school tips over there for WFMW. Check it out…you won’t be disappointed.