5 Tips to Survive Back to School Shopping

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Schools back in session and I am seeing a lot of happy parent posts on Facebook. I have to admit I didn’t quite get why all the hype about back to school until my son went off to pre-k last year. It was our first “real” experience in school supply, uniform, and book bag shopping. Not to mention, it was also a trial run at setting a back to school routine.

With my son transitioning in to kindergarten this year, I have put together 5 tips to survive back to school shopping. It’s mostly for my sanity and my wallet, but I figured I would share it with you too.

5 Tips to Survive Back to School Shopping

Shopping on any given day with two kids can be a challenge. Throw in a few back to school specials, little tykes needing 25 glue sticks and a new bookbag and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. I just don’t understand why places like Target, which are prime real estate for mass kiddie shopping don’t fence in the whole area like the kid zone at Chuck E Cheese. Wouldn’t that be easier? Let’s throw in some plastic balls while we are at it so I can at least say I got my workout in while dipping and dodging in between the back to school aisles. Just last week while school shopping at Walmart, I almost t-boned a 3rd grader making his way out of the colored pencil aisle at 100mph. After applying the brakes to my overly full shopping cart, I had to stop myself from yelling, “where in the  H E double hockey sticks are your parents ?!?”. Curse words diverted and I earned a glass of wine that night.

So for my own sanity, I have put together a list of things I am going to do differently to survive back to school shopping for next year. I present to you in no particular order my top 5 tips to survive back to school shopping…. for next year.


The Dreaded Back to School List:

My plan of attack is to save that wrinkled, coffee ring stained school supply paper and use it to my advantage for next year. The back to school supply list is like gold and deserves to be laminated.  One thing I have learned from this year’s list is that kids must eat glue sticks. I can bet you at any given time there are at least 10 posts in my social media circle about the overabundance of glue sticks needed in the classroom. Among other things that have also been mentioned are the need for a specific brand of #2 pencil. Back in my day, there were two kinds of pencils. Rubber duckies and the wooden ones. My pencil fighting championship title held on by a thread to my parent’s ability to stick by “the list”. More expensive, yes. But less embarrassing than having to sharpen half of a rubber duckie in front of the class. I have found from pre-k to kindergarten that the list varies slightly as you go up in age, but the overall principle of what is needed stays the same.

Shop Early:

The sales happen early on and then disappear right before payday. For those of us hustling in that 9 to 5, the back to school shopping list is something we start preparing for 3 months in advance especially if you have multiple kids. Some items on the list are however clearance worthy, as demonstrated by the fountain of generic brands that spewed pencils on aisle 3 at Target.  I won’t be slack next year with it comes to the big stuff like backpacks and lunch boxes. You either get it early or take your chances fighting another desperate parent for the last “cool design” backpack on clearance.

Clearance Shopping:

Although I have been known to score a pretty sweet deal on basic school items using coupons, I am going to wait for the 50% and 75% clearance signs go up and then hit the sales for crayons, paper and composition notebooks. My mad coupon skills have taught me to be laser focused on what matters…. the price. You will find me in the clearance aisles in a few weeks digging through bins of misplaced items until I get 25 glue sticks when that stuff goes on sale. I have literally watched the back to school sale ads fluctuate like the stock market. But, my logic stays the same on most of what is needed with basic back to school essentials.

Pick a color:

Solid colored folders, stickers, crayons and paper. We are going to focus on solid colored everything because I learned my lesson when we took last years clearance valentines in to pre-k. My son informed me that Scooby Doo was no longer popular and that he wanted Avengers valentines. Who does not like Scooby Doo? Kids need to recognize an iconic cartoon figure when they see it! Our goal this year is to stay in the primary colors for folders,  notebooks and binders. Anything fancy is going to get a facelift with stickers anyways, so why spend on the branded stuff.

Second Hand Shopping:

My sister saved my butt this year with her son’s second hand polo shirts and khaki pants. Last year in pre-k we really didn’t have a dress code other than weather appropriate. This year is a whole new ball game. Solid colored polo shirts with absolutely no brand or logos. I have about 4 colors to choose from or buy a branded school logo shirt for $20.00. Did I mention my kid grows like a weed, so guestimating his size is virtually impossible. As soon as I find a great pair of gently used shoes for him to “grow in to”, his foot has doubled in size. Second hand anything fits our budget and is typically less worn over what my kids wore throughout summer.


If you are the introvert kind and would rather do your shopping online and have it delivered with a smile on the box, here are a few deals I found online…

Until the next Hot Mess school year…..

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