I think that I should start by telling you that if you are expecting this to be a blog post telling you the best place to find a deal on back to school supplies or clothing, you may want to look elsewhere, because it’s not. In fact, I stopped doing “back to school shopping” years ago. When possible I buy my kids supplies through the school (except for the extras, which we will talk about later) and unless it’s necessary – and I’m talking holes in shoes and blisters on feet – I just don’t do it. I don’t like the feeling that I’m being manipulated by retailers. However, I do go back to school shopping for myself. Yes, parents, this list is about YOU! You’ll be glad that you listened to me. I’ve tried to narrow my list to just a few items that you will find beneficial, not just surviving the school year, but just maybe helping to make it enjoyable.
1. Buy your self a planning calendar.
Consider this a free commercial for this calendar. I use these and I love them! “The Mom’s Plan It” series comes in several different versions, but I always look for the 17 month, August through the following December calendar. It covers an entire school year plus the following summer which is great because, as you know, these days our kids schedules keep rolling year round. I’m aware that a lot of us may prefer to keep our important dates and reminders on our phones or in our computers, but this calendar is really a family calendar. Make sure that you post it in a public place so everyone in your home has access to it. When all five of my children were at home – three in high school and the other two were toddlers – facilitating everyone’s schedule became impossible. No one knew what the other was doing, nor did they care. Once I started posting the calendar and directing them to it as questions arose, they started connecting the dots and they had an epiphany: One person (me) couldn’t facilitate everyone’s life. They became a participant in the logistics of their own lives. Even my younger kids like it! There are stickers (for doctor appointments, parties, no school, holidays, etc.) to help them chart out what’s going on and I make sure to include my own schedule so that they realize that I do have a life away from them. You can also keep emergency phone numbers and contact information right there in the calendar. LOVE IT! I really do because I didn’t receive a dime, or a free calendar or anything for saying any of this nice stuff about it. “Mom’s Plan it” calendars can be purchased at Barnes and Noble and Amazon.
2. Purchase $50 in gift cards to any big box store that carries school and/or craft supplies (Target, Wal-Mart, Michael’s, etc. or any combination) and keep them. Once, when Mr. C. was in grammar school, he forgot (neglected) to mention to me that he had a project due at the end of the week and that project was somewhat craft intense. Well, the bills had been paid, the budget was set and it wasn’t near another pay-day. Enter that gift card. It was a life saver and it happens to all of us. Once school starts the money just starts flying out of your wallet and there is always something that you didn’t plan on. Do yourself a favor and prepare for a rainy day, but put the gift cards away and try to keep them for a real emergency.
3. Find yourself a cute cup or mug. Something that you really enjoy using. Maybe it has an inspiring message or one that’s really pretty. I particularly like the mug pictured above that says “World’s okayest mom” because I like to keep expectations low. That way it makes it pretty easy for me to look like a rock star. The pink, blinged out on-the-go cup always makes me feel soooo…….you guessed it, GLAMOROUS! Get it? Never mind. The point is (and this is particularly important for those of you sending kids to school for the first time), you will be staying up late and getting up early. You will be missing sleep and in desperate need of your favorite caffeinated beverage of choice. Which brings me to….
4. Stock up on your favorite caffeinated beverage of choice. For those of you that don’t drink caffeine (huh?) stock up on whatever beverage energizes, comforts or soothes you. Make sure that you have plenty of it at all times. I wish that there was some way to make this easier, but there isn’t. The never-ending tide of papers to review and sign, checks to write, volunteer forms to fill out…remember that I talked to you about the need to volunteer in the last post? It’s all time-consuming and it usually takes place after the kiddos are off to bed and you would like to be sleeping, too. Sorry.
5. Finally, and I hate to bring it up because it has become such a sensitive subject these days, but buy extra school supplies. More and more school districts are moving toward shared school supplies. There are a few reasons for this transition, the most common of which is that a lot pf parents simply can’t afford all of the items on the list. Or, there are parents who can’t afford the name brand versions of the requested items and other parents that will over purchase. They are trying to protect children’s feelings and for the most part, I’m okay with that. As I stated above, I buy the supplies through the school however, I do purchase extras of some things because inevitably by the middle of the school year (if you’re lucky) you will begin receiving emails with requests to replace supplies that are running low. Notice, some supplies go more quickly than others and this is why I’m telling you to stock up on the following now: glue sticks and liquid glue (I honestly think the kids eat it); sharpened pencils with erasers (again, I think that the little monsters eat the erasers); large pink erasers (this should be obvious); and crayons (because they absolutely destroy them). You know what I find ironic? I’ve never been asked to send extra tissues. One large box per student lasts the entire year for 22 runny nosed children, but 6 glue sticks per kid doesn’t? Really? You do know this is because they wipe their noses on their shirts, right? I’m just sayin’….