It’s that time of year to go back to school shopping. While my system may not be ideal for most, it keeps me calm and focused. Or is that Mini Wheat cereal? This school year I’ve decided to take you on a journey of my neurotic, Type A personality in action. The method behind all of my madness always begins with a list and a detailed plan. You see while others pile into the car and head for the nearest mall, I invoke a five step process for back to school shopping.
- Step One: De-Clutter
I have found it necessary to start any project by de-cluttering. In an effort to raise our kids to be self-sufficient I have them go through all of their clothes, toys, and supplies and get rid of anything that does not fit, is unusable, or that they just do not want anymore. Inevitably I go through and do the same thing a second time around because let’s face it they are kids and I am a bit of a control freak. Together we decide what stuff will be handed down to friends, given to the Goodwill, or thrown away. A fashion show with the girls to see what clothing fits and putting together all of my son’s car tracks and other toys to see if we have all the pieces has been known to happen as a result of this step. Basically, you get the idea.
- Step Two: Take Inventory
Once everything is de-cluttered and you only have the things you want and/or need you area able to see exactly what you have. You might be surprised to learn your son only has two pair of pants that fit but has a plethora of shirts. You could also be the owner of two packs of brand new pencils and glue sticks. Who knows? If you really want to be a nerd you can write it all down and transfer it to a spreadsheet like I do? I know, I know. I can’t help it.
- Step Three: Make a List
Based on your inventory decide what, including quantity, your children need. I also include a few wants. My daughter may not need three pair of shoes but it doesn’t hurt to put it on the back to school list, at this point. Simple enough right? Well, I tend to sort my list by child, clothing type, supplies and of course make a master list. Issues, I know!
- Step Four: Research and Create a Budget
I like to research online all the items on my master list. I can get idea of what things cost and where I can get a great deal. Having a budget is necessary in our household because at this stage of our life we our living on very limited discretionary funds. On top of that our income is erratic due to Mr. C having a commission based career. After our budget is established, I make adjustments based on the research I did and make a new list. It may make more sense to budget first then research but hey I have never been one to do things that make sense! Either way doing this allows me to figure how to best use our back to school budget.
- Step Five: Shop
Finally, the fun part. With four kids it’s tough to find one on one time. School shopping is the perfect excuse to have a mommy/daughter date with my oldest daughter. We hit the stores with our list and cash only in hand. It’s a great time to talk and find out how she is feeling about the new school year. I also get an insight on how her fashion sense has changed and what things she thinks are now cool. It is a time to bond and just have girl time. I tried to have mommy/son and a daddy/son shopping trip in the past but it didn’t work out. My son loves to see what we bought for him but going shopping for himself, not so much.
At the end of the day all that matters is your kids are prepared and equipped for a new school year, while you stay within your families budget. The method in which you get there has to work for you and your family alone. I take comfort in being a neurotic list maker.
How do accomplish back to school shopping?