5 Tips to Reduce Stress from Last-Minute School Shopping

No matter how much I don’t like to admit it, the end of summer is right around the corner. As we finish up the hazy days of August, my kids have a little more than one week left before they head back to school. If you’re anything like me, you probably still have some last-minute shopping to do. I’m usually more on-point with school shopping. But this year I was really focused on enjoying every minute of the warm summer weather that I completely lost track of how little time I had left to get everything the kids need.

As a child I remember the excitement of going school shopping – getting a new wardrobe complete with shoes, sneakers, jeans, shirts, a backpack and a ton of new school supplies. Every single year I suffered from a severe case of butterflies the night before the first day of school. I could barely sleep from the anticipation of getting on my new bus and seeing my friends for the first time after summer break.

It never occurred to me how much money my parents spent to make sure that my two sisters and I had everything we needed to be ready for our first big day. Nor did I consider how stressful it must have been for my mom to take the three of us school shopping and keep up with who had what and who still needed specific items on their lists.

Now that I’m all grown up with four children of my own, I understand what my mom went through to ensure that we had all that we needed to start school. I’ve learned a few great tips over the years that I am happy to share with you. I believe that we should be just as excited about back-to-school as our little ones are.

Here are 5 things you can do to stay calm and stress-free while doing your last-minute shopping:

  1. Make a list before you hit the stores. Most school districts provide a suggested list of supplies. They used to come in the mail for us, but now they are available on the school’s website. If you have more than 2 kids (like me), those lists can get out of control. Instead of taking multiple lists with you and trying to manage them while you’re in the store and your kids are asking for everything under the sun (that’s not on their list), consolidate their lists and make one running list of supplies. This will save you a lot of time, money and stress. Trust me – I’ve done it both ways and the consolidated list is a winner every time.

  1. Take an inventory of leftover school supplies from the year before. I’ve learned to inspect my kids’ backpacks and see if they are in good enough condition to use again. I do the same thing with their supplies. Often I buy more supplies than they actually use during the school year. When I do my inspection I usually find new and barely used supplies such as pens, pencils, glue sticks, notebooks and filler paper that can be used for the current school year. This is a sure way to save you time and money.

  1. Purchase what you can online. The internet makes shopping pretty stress-free for moms. Instead of standing in lines and fighting over the last bit of school supplies, you can get what your kids need from a few simple clicks.


  1. Leave your kids at home if at all possible. Now, there is a side note to this. If your children are little and get tired while shopping, try not to bring them with you. If they’re older and can help you grab things off the list and speed up the process, then bring them along. The goal here is to stay calm and stress-free, so you can decide if it’s more helpful for you to bring the kiddies or to leave them at home.

  1. Compare prices to get the biggest bang for your buck. Check weekly circulars for stores like Target, Wal-Mart and Staples to see where you can get the best deals. Staples offers price matching, which guarantees that they have the lowest prices for school supplies. I’ve also found great deals in my local grocery store and neighborhood pharmacies around this time of year. Don’t forget about your local dollar store, where you can often find great deals on common school supplies.

I hope you find these tips helpful. When you plan it out and have a strategy for school shopping, it’s more enjoyable. Every year when I’m out buying school supplies I always seem to find a Trapper Keeper folder (remember those?), which brings back sweet childhood memories.

Whatever you do, stay calm and look forward to the peace and quiet you’ll have once your little ones are well-stocked and back in school.

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