I recently went school supply shopping for my three children who are in elementary, middle and high school. I pulled out the lists of "must-haves" including pens, markers, construction paper (white AND colored), graph paper, protractors, rulers, binders (1-inch AND 3-inch), pencils, erasers, pencil boxes, highlighters, dry erase markers, paper, scissors, glue sticks (four of them!), report covers, and folders with pockets (five of them!), just to name a few!
Pulling up to the local Walmart was my best choice for knocking out all of the supplies at one time however, I was not prepared to see 10 aisles of school supplies and a list that was not in alphabetical order! I have not had to purchase school supplies for the last 13 years because my children's school always provided them. Needless to say, this was a new process for me.
I learned a few things during my shopping treks to Walmart, Office Depot and Staples, and thought my reflection might encourage you in your back-to-school shopping.
Alphabetize the list of school supplies
Really! What's the deal with requiring parents to get the same supplies year-to-year and not putting the items in alphabetical order to make the list easier to follow? Perhaps it would make sense to group similar items on the list (for example, folders and binders) so parents can eliminate some of the running back and forth between aisles.
List the top three places to purchase school uniforms.
Everyone shops differently but giving parents a selection of multiple places to purchase school uniforms takes the guess work out of the buying process. Couldn't the PTA provide a list of their favorite places to purchase uniforms? #IJS
Provide a list of recommended brands.
This would be especially helpful for items like backpacks. Let's face it, local schools and teachers know the best brands that result in less water damage and breakage, so why not share that information with parents to help them save time and money? If teachers and schools are leery about singling out specific brands they could at least share the past recommendations of other parents.
Don't ask for "four" dry erase markers because they are packaged in units of six.
What's up with that? Ask for six markers so that parents can end their search and select items that are readily available.
Let parents know the amount of time they can estimate spending on the supply purchase so they are not blindsided.
While I enjoyed the process because it reminded me of my childhood and selecting my school supplies with my mother, it still took me several hours to sift through supplies.
There are so many options today -- from folders with cool peace signs to an assortment of pencils bags in varying designs -- that the process really does require time to shop thoughtfully. I had no idea it would take as long as it did. When I first entered the store and saw the number of supplies to choose from, I thought about parking my shopping cart and starting fresh in the morning. It was overwhelming because there were so many things to choose from.
Have dinner prepared for mom on her return home.
Let's be clear... shopping for school supplies is right up there with shopping on Black Friday and holiday shopping. It is exhausting! Comfortable slippers at the door, a glass of wine, and dinner already prepared is what every mom needs when she returns from back-to-school shopping!
I'm very thankful that my family is done with its back-to-school shopping. Do you have any tried and true back-to-school shopping ideas you would like to add to my list?