We were shopping for curtains at JC Penney’s this week and when we popped down to the kids section there it was. The back to school signs seemed to be flashing like neon lights surrounded by loooooaaaads of supplies, backpacks, clothes and lunch boxes. It was like our girls had never been to the mall before when the annoying “I wants” started.
They wanted three different backpacks, toys, pajamas, high heels, (hell no) and some sort of glittery black combat boots…and I was instantly done. I couldn’t take the whining and constant asking for things..so we left abruptly. Our budding first grader had her heart set on a Jasmine backpack and tantrumed the whole way out of the store. I mean…she’s never even seen Aladdin and last month even declared she was over princesses! But she can’t live without a cheap plastic backpack?!
That’s when I decided when we do go back, we will have a plan. I call it my back to school shopping survival guide, which all moms and dads need in order to get through the insanity of back to school shopping! No I’m not talking about money saving tips, call these your sanity savers!
- Make a List – And add everything. School supplies, clothing, shoes, accessories, and backpack and lunchbox. Make sure your child is aware of this list and even helps you write it out!
- Set Expectations Before Going Shopping – Go over your list with your kids, so they know what to expect and what they are allowed to shop for.
- Set a Budget – This is really good for older kids, but helps even Kindergartners understand there is price limit for certain items.
- Allow Children To Bring Their Own Money – It’s inevitable that the small people will want to buy something not on the list. So make sure they bring their allowance/birthday/tooth fairy money with them. Set a limit and empower them to earn and spend. My kids cleaned the litter boxes today and washed the windows. It works!
- Leave if They Start to Fuss – I’m serious, do not pass GO if the kids start to tantrum or fuss over things they cannot have. We tell our girls that we need to focus on appreciating what we do have, and less on what we think we need. So I always tell them ahead of time if they cry over something they cannot have, the shopping trip is over.
- No Character Backpacks or Lunchboxes – OK I may get killed for this one, but seriously I think this is a waste of money. Our children seem to change allegiances every day with different princesses, and always want to follow what their friends have. I say be original and pick something that they won’t get tired of mid way through the year. By the way, we do allow a new backpack every year, but it’s totally not necessary!
- Start Making Your Christmas List – Yes I said it! Do you know how many ideas I’ve received the past few days? Plus the earlier you know what they want, the easier it is to find sales!
- Have Fun – Remember the days of picking out Trapper Keepers and school supplies? This is a big deal to kids, so let them enjoy it. Who cares if it take 20 minutes to pick out a certain color pencil box, this is thrilling for the littles!
Good luck parents navigating the aisles filled with highlighters, Minecraft backpacks, and Minion lunchboxes. Stay strong and stick to your list!
I read this and something you had shared about buying a quality backpack so you don’t have to do it year after year, and I’m feeling better about it.
Our kindergarten was a no homework, no school supplies year. First grade is seeming more intimidating to me – but only logistically and not as emotionally as last year was!
This is a really great list. I’m totally on-board with the no character thing. We got our boys’ backpacks from LL Bean. They’re not anything that they’ll get sick of anytime soon, they’re awesome quality, and they’ll last for many years.
Susanne/The Dusty Parachute says
I’m so grateful for our online school supply ordering option. Everything arrived a week ago and it took about one minute. I’m sure it costs more than buying them at then store but I’m guessing we save money from impulse buys in the long run. 🙂
We started school yesterday! I am happy to say I survived shopping for backpacks, supplies, shoes, socks and clothes. It took weeks I tell you and some heavy planning and budgeting! You are spot on here my friend!
Great ideas! I am so thankful that my Kindergartener goes to a school that doesn’t allow characters on ANYTHING. The school list dictates every last detail of what needs to be sent (e.g. plastic folders in blue and yellow, Ticonderoga pencils, pack of 24 crayons in standard colors only). It may take the fun out of that part of back to school shopping, but it’s just so much easier; except the fact that the stores run out of those supplies super early. Best of luck shopping!
Allie Smith says
Just this week I shared a picture on Instagram of all the school supplies I bought, with the caption “We’ve come a long way from Trapper Keepers!” It’s crazy. Our list comes directly from the school. We do new backpacks, too and I don’t do characters – but sports teams are okay:).
Janine Huldie says
We ended late in June and don’t go back until September 2nd here, so technically we have about a month left of summer vacation and are actually going away all next week to Disney. So, I am not in back to school mode at all yet as much as I know it will come for us, still trying to enjoy the rest of our summer vacation. But great tips and will have to refer back to when we are ready now.
thankfully, we have a company that does it all for us – the only things we have to get is a water bottle and bac-pac (which i may not get until christmas)… #7!
I dont take my son school clothes shopping since its a basic uniform and he would rather I just do it. However, he loves selecting his backpack, lunchbox, and sneakers. I do let him select whichever backpack he wants, as long as he knows he cant ask for another one for the rest of the year. (it hasnt been an issue.. yet!)
Yes, I am over the character backpacks. They are so cheap looking too. These are great tips!
I’m trying to decide if the kids will get new backpacks and lunchboxes this year. So far, I think we can go another year with last year’s stuff…but we’ll see if we can find some good sales.
We are lucky with the school supplies – we pay a flat fee at our school and they are all provided. I do kind of miss buying them, but the list is super long and from what I hear, it’s really hard to get everything on your list unless you are there the day the school supplies go on sale at Walmart…so I’m happy to let someone else do the work!
Rabia @TheLiebers says
We don’t buy a new backpack every year, so my middle son was upset with me when his little brother (who is starting Kindergarten) got one and he didn’t. Thankfully that fit didn’t last long, because I can’t imagine being almost done and having to leave the store. I also refused to shop during tax-free weekend. I figure the small amount of tax I pay is not worth the circus at Target that weekend!
Grame smith says
Such a great and informative blog!in this article the best thing is that money-saving tips it is best for everyone and all the people know that how we save money and how we spend in good place.