Friday, July 11, 2014

Shopping for School Supplies - A Solution for Chaos

It's that time of year again! The school supply lists have been posted by schools, the back-to-school sales are beginning, and summer is half-way over. If you're like me, you don't do all your back-to-school shopping in one trip because it takes too many stops at different places for new shoes, backpack, art supplies, class supplies, kleenex, new clothes, etc. You want to take advantage of the sales, but they don't all run the same week, so your shopping is spread out over a couple (or more) weeks. There is a lot to buy and a lot to keep track of, so how do you go about the back-to-school shopping without descending into chaos, especially given the inconsistent schedule of summer?

I only have one child, and I feel like the potential for chaos in back-to-school shopping is high. I have to go through last year's uniforms and see what fits or doesn't fit. I peruse the used uniforms at the school to see if I can find what I need in Eliana's size without buying new. Once that is done, I have to re-count what we have for uniforms, because I have already forgotten. I mentioned a couple posts back that Eliana does her uniform laundry every other weekend, so I need to make sure that we have uniforms for 2 weeks, including enough long sleeve shirts and cardigans to pair with short sleeve shirts to get through winter, which lasts for almost all of the school year here in Montana. I need to check to see if we have enough shoes, socks, tights, shorts for under her skirts, etc. Perhaps in your family one pair of school shoes is sufficient. Here is ADHD land, we've learned that we need a minimum of 4 pairs of school shoes to compensate for the constant revolution of lost-and-found clothing items. Shoes are always someplace other than where they're supposed to be; they get left by the front door, they get left in the car, they get left in the bedroom... While we do have a system for shoes that works well, it only works well if we recognize and compensate for the fact that sometimes frequently there is user error. We have the same policy for snow boots, hats, gloves, and snowpants. Oddly enough, Eliana doesn't tend to lose her coat, but I digress. After I assess all of the uniforms from last year, and add in any used uniforms I can get for this year, I go online to buy the rest of what we need. While I'm online I usually look around to see what I should buy for school supplies locally, or if I can find a good deal on amazon for some of the items. I order what I need from amazon and know they'll be here in 2 days. At some point, I'll go to the store(s) and buy other school supplies, but I'll probably wade through last year's school supplies first to figure out what I can re-use. There are usually at least pencil cases and rulers that don't need to be re-purchased. One of the keys to reducing clutter is not to buy more stuff than you need. Don't duplicate what you already have.

SO.... if you've followed along to this point, thank you for listening to my rambling. This is what I've found with only one child, I can only imagine what it's like with more. Here's what I discovered worked very well this year for us, and could be multiplied for additional children easily.

Basically, I printed the school supply list for Eliana's class and stapled it to the front of a handled grocery sack. I have several of these bags and I love their reusability. The bag is large enough to hold most of her school supplies, but not so large or unstructured that it's unruly. 

As I purchase items for school and put them into the bag, I cross them off the list on the front. This makes it really easy to see what I've already put in the bag without having to dig through the bag. I put supplies like pencils and glue sticks into the pencil cases to maximize space. 

This year we didn't find a backpack for Eliana until near the end of our shopping, so it helped to have the items contained instead of a pile on the counter that had to be moved repeatedly or potentially decimated by the Tasmanian Devil on one of his decluttering sprees. 

Here's a peek into the bag from the top to give a little perspective of what it looks like as the process continues. Now that we have all our back-to-school shopping done, I put the school supplies in Eliana's new backpack (ready for the first day of school) and put her 3 boxes of kleenex, PE shoes, and paint shirt in the bag, ready to be carried into school the first day. This solution minimizes the number and size of the bags she has to carry in, but gives her the independence to do it herself without needing me to carry items for her.

And now, with summer half-way over, we can sit back and enjoy the rest of vacation, knowing that we're ready for the first day of school! Happy shopping and organization to your family as well!