Every summer, it happens. As day after glorious day of summer vacation dwindles, so does the time of our children’s summer “freedom.” Somehow the routines that we held so closely during the year have been forgotten, and it’s almost Thanksgiving break, it seems, that we feel like we’re almost back on track.
Advertisers have been reminding us for weeks now, that school days will return and along with those calendars and all the paperwork about registration, we get those dreaded school supply lists. We’re also reminded by advertisers that none of our children’s clothing is adequate, their shoes are all wrong (if they still fit), and that no one dare shows up on the first day of school without brand spankin’ new everything.
News reports tell us that the average family spends $350 per child on back to school necessities, not including clothing.
I can picture a mother, sitting in the corner of her living room, wondering how she’s going to be able to fulfill her family’s demands and the school’s requirements. It’s almost as stressful as trying to pull off the perfect Thanksgiving meal or perfect Christmas celebration.
But I believe we have more than we think we do, that if we plan ahead we can save money and time, and that we don’t need to cave to the pressure to fall into step with the rest of the world.
Here’s a few ways to give yourself a breather while getting ready for school.
- You have more school supplies in your home than you think you do! Gather the kids and do a room to room, drawer to drawer search. Make it a game with the family and hunt for everything and anything related to school supplies. You know what I mean. Those pens and pencils that disappear randomly. Unlike stray socks, pens and pencils end up somewhere we can find them. There’s probably reams of paper and half-used notebooks here and there. Look in cushions, spare purses, under the seats of the car, in the side pockets of car doors, in the junk drawers and random boxes. Pens, pencils, crayons, erasers, scissors, construction paper—you name it. Not that you need to surrender them to your child’s classroom, but you need a good supply at home because, “Mom, I left my pencils at school.”
- Forget about the sales tax holiday. I highly recommend skipping the sales tax frenzy because of the stress, the hysteria that comes upon the rest of the world, all to save a few cents on each dollar. It’s almost as bad as the Black Friday sales. Usually, I go for the option of saving money whenever possible. But not in this case. If you watch for sales year round, you can often find clothes ahead of time and save more than the 5 or 8 percent, or whatever your state sales tax might be. Don’t cave to the peer pressure!I keep a list of my nieces’, nephews’ and grandkids’ sizes with me and I always watch for a good sale. Don’t forget thrift stores and clothing swaps. Fashion trends may change, but staples like jeans and basic shirts don’t change over time. Then next year, you can spend on a “must have” special item—or two.
- Shop in phases. You don’t have to do this all at once. Repeat. You don’t have to do this all at once. Where did we get the idea that we must get it all in one day, in one weekend, and then send our children with 50 pounds of gear to school the first day, or first week, even? Not that you’re trying to frustrate your children’s teachers by not getting their supplies to school right away, but really, how much of these things will your child actually use in the first week? Give yourself a breather, give your family a breather. It’s going to be all right. You’re going to get into your school routine and you’ll get things done. But relax. If you don’t get it all done by the first day, that’s all right.No matter what the advertisers say. Ignore them and don’t feel inadequate. They’re only doing what they’ve been paid to do—get as much of your money as they can, as soon as they can.
You can foil their plans and save money—and some time—in spite of them.