Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Pacing Yourself Back to School

If you’re anything like me, it seems as if I am just beginning to enjoy summer vacation and it’s time to think about going back to school. For most parents, this is a “hallelujah” event. For me, I dig my heels in kicking and screaming. I enjoy having my children home with me and I enjoy the unscheduled slower days of summertime.

However, the school season will come, whether I’m ready for it or not. And with the struggling economy, it can really hit the budget hard if you have multiple children you need to buy supplies for. I found a great way that works for me in easing the strain on my wallet. I try to start buying supplies as soon as I have the supply list in my hands. I buy a few at a time – not everything. That way, I can spread out my funds over a few weeks or a month or two (if you get your list that early). It also gives me time to visit a few different stores and compare prices. My kids can pick and choose a little easier what it is they’d like and it’s just not a lump sum that hits me hard all at once.

A lot of people also go clothes shopping for the new school year. I have never done that. My girls grow all year long so they need new clothes all year long! If I bought them just one big pile of clothes at the beginning of the year, I know they would not last. So what we do is purchase one outfit. A first day of school outfit. We also get gym or sports shoes if they are needed. This way, my kids feel fresh and confident on the first day, but also know as they grow out of jeans or need things throughout the year, that it will be easier for me as their mom to take them out to purchase them.

We don’t always get a new lunchbox or a new school bag. If theirs is still in good shape, they use the one they have from last year. We wash it or clean it out. On average I would say that my girls have needed a new backpack or bag every other year. This also teaches them to take care of what they have!

It’s not just finances that hit me hard when school resumes. It’s routine. There are certain things that – let’s face it – we as parents sometimes try to “squish” in because they are important to us. Like first day of school pictures.  But mornings can sometimes be hectic (especially if you have girls who want to “pretty” up). Often, my girls will have a ½ day of school on the first day. So instead of taking pictures before school, there has been a time or two that I’ve taken them when they’ve gotten home from school. With little ones, this may not be as feasible as they run and play harder but as your kids get into junior high and high school – it is totally reasonable to take a picture once they get home. Plus they aren’t as stressed and nervous about the first day!

I’ve found that things are easier if I’m more workable. We don’t always have to do things a certain way. I don’t have to have a big breakfast on the first day of school but some fun chocolate mini donuts are just as exciting. Be flexible. Be positive. And listen to your children’s temperament as they prepare for a new school year. If you have the right outlook and attitude, everything can be fun. Even school!

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