Why We Should Embrace Back-to-School Supply Shopping


The smell of 64 newly opened crayons is in the air, which means back-to-school shopping has arrived. School supply lists are making their way to my hands for the upcoming school year and, personally, I couldn’t be more thrilled.

Growing up, my mom excitedly took us school supply shopping each year. In fact, I’m pretty sure she waited for the school supply list with as much anticipation as we waited to know which teacher we were going to have for the year ahead. We would go down every aisle searching for the newest supplies and, more importantly, the newest colors and designs of each item. I remember my mom making the experience fun and engaging, and always allowing us to get much more than what was on our lists. Thanks, mom!

Now that I am a mother, I have that same giddiness about shopping for supplies as the school year approaches. Although just one of my girls is currently school age {kindergarten this year… excuse me while I ugly cry}, our 2-year-old little girl still has a list of items needed for her ‘school year,’ so we definitely count that, too… double the fun!

I look forward to the lists and taking both of my girls to the store together to pick out the items needed. I always think of it as a scavenger hunt, so that is how we treat it. I allow my five-year-old to read her list, find the supplies and mark each item off as it is found. I help my now two-year-old to do the same, even at her young age. We talk about the colors of markers and count them, too. We talk about what each supply does and what we think they will be used for during the school year. It’s amazing what kids know when we just ask, listen and use our imaginations with them. As we go down the lists we also make sure to take a peek at backpacks, lunchboxes and other items not actually listed, but still needed, if time allows. This always makes for a good, short detour from the task at hand. 

Let’s not forget that this is also an emotional and expensive time for parents. Our babies are making another step toward graduating and adulthood- entering a new grade and sometimes even a new school – whether it be kindergarten, middle school, high school or (gasp!) college. We haven’t even discussed back-to-school clothes shopping {cha-ching!}. Don’t forget enrollment/registration fees, doctor visits, tuitions (if private schooling), extracurricular expenses, etc. on top of the already pricey trips to the store for supplies and clothes. It all adds up, and adds up fast!

One thing we shouldn’t stress over is school supply shopping, because it can be fun – I promise! 

I know that, often times, it’s stressful enough to take our children to the store, even if it is only to grab a few items. So, shopping for school supplies with kids may not for the faint of heart. However, with some patience, it can be magical. You may have to allow them to “be kids” this trip– maybe roam the aisles and possibly cause a little havoc (eh, what do we have to lose? It’s not like it would be the first time, nor the last, I’m sure). 

I’ve vowed to make school supply shopping fun, informative and educational for my children, just as it was for my sister and I growing up. Many schools (like my little kindergartner’s) sell school supply packs. These are bundled packs of school supplies that can be purchased, so you don’t have to take the time to shop for school supplies yourself. I think the concept is awesome and, as a busy, working mom like myself, I completely understand why some parents would opt for that route.

But not me. 

I’ve found that school supply shopping truly helps my children engage and be overcome with excitement for the year ahead. We talk about their teachers and the friends that will be in their class. They look forward to taking all of the supplies that we have purchased out of the packages and labeling and organizing them accordingly (I look forward to doing this for our littlest girl right now, but I know she will be loving it soon, too). Their backpacks get filled and ready to go for the first day of school, along with their outfit ready to feel their best on that special first day. 

What if we stopped stressing over the school supply lists and instead embraced them as a new experience and added memory we are making with our children? 

While you ponder that, I’ll be hunting down large boxes of tissues… for the classrooms, and for myself. 



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