Back to School Tips – 1

Supplies and Clothes

Backpacks, new clothes, and school supplies – true signs of Back to School Time! I love it LOL! Along with the supplies comes the challenges of getting excited kids off to bed on time and then dragging them out of bed again in the morning, making lunches, finding socks that match, dashing out the door, homework, after school activities….the list goes on.

So, how does a parent manage all this? We asked our members for suggestions. Check it out. Amongst all these ideas, you will find tips that will work in your home. Remember, you have to adapt the routines to fit your family! This list is several pages long (so use your timer and don’t worry, I won’t declutter the Back To School information until September).

Thank-you to everyone who shared their ideas and routines with us! I enjoyed going through them and picked up some new ideas for my kids! – FlyCrew

Saving Dollars on the School Supplies and Clothes

“Everytime you buy something new, take the bag or bags they came in and pack up a similar item to give away.” – FlyLady

  1. Here is my tip for saving TONS of time and money when it comes to back-to-school shopping: Every year when the back-to-school sale ads start arriving in the mail, I sit down with my 3 DD’s and we start with paper and pens, at their dressers. We go through each and every piece of clothing, listing what they have that is in good condition and can be used as school clothes, boogy-ing the rest to charity or the garbage can. We then go through the boxes of clothes we keep in the basement, ones that are “in-between” girls right now, that haven’t been fitting anyone. We try on and add those things that fit and are in good shape for school clothes onto our lists. Now each child has a list that tells what they have. Do they need underwear? Look at the list. Who has 8 pairs of jeans but no nice shirts? Who has 5 pairs of shoes and no socks? The list of “haves” tells us what the “don’t haves” are, so making a shopping list is a piece of cake. Then we shop, sticking to the list of needs, instead of buying what is cute and coming home and seeing that we still forgot the socks and underwear. If the budget allows, I allow each child to choose one outfit that is not on the “need” list, to wear for the first day of school or whatever. It takes a day or two to get ready to head out shopping, but the dresser drawers get a good “going-through” which they need twice a year anyway. This is a good project for after you are done with major de-cluttering, and you certainly wouldn’t want to abandon your routines to get this done. If necessary, set your timer and do 15 minutes at once, then quit. Or try an hour, do what you can, then come back again tomorrow. We save TONS of money on school clothes this way. Because we know what we have and what we need, impulse shopping is kept to a minimum. Happy back-to-schooling, all! Flybaby in Utah
  2. Our Elementary & Middle schools in Southern Maryland put out their school supply list with the child’s last report card. A different one for each grade. This helps alot. Every mid-July around here, the school supplies are out and in full stock and on sale. Also, the area stores such as Wal-Mart get copies of these supply lists and they post them at the store in the school supply aisle in a laminate as well as provide copies at the front of the store. Which is great for those of us SHE’s who lose the list. Maybe other SHE’s could get this type of thing going in their area.You wrote . . . “My local store has school supplies out! Oh no! How do I keep from buying every new gel pen color out there?”I try to keep a price book on school supply sale/rollback prices. Elmer’s glue $.25/Papermate pens $.44-$.50 pack of 10, Pocket Folders w/fasteners $.10, Box of Crayons $.50, etc. I try to stock up now for the whole school year and with the money I save buying now, I can send extras in for the teacher, who also seems to be spending out of her pocket by the time Spring comes around and parent’s forget to ask their kids, “are you running out of anything, what do you need?”With my price book and knowing that pens are $.05 each, it’s hard for me to buy my older kids gel pens at more than a $1.00 a piece for everyday use and plus- they lose them so fast! LOL! They have a generous allowance. I buy the basics, if they want the latest and the greatest, they can buy it! Also, in middle school around here, basically, they are only “supposed” to be using blue or black ink and occasionally red for editing. So gel pens are extras that I’ll buy a few for around the house. After their gone, the kids have to buy more if they want them.
  3. I have 3 boys in two different schools this year and list upon list of school supplies that need to be purchased. My system works for me, but then again I am a list-a-holic. I make a single list of what needs to be purchased for school for the year, adding quantities of things such as crayons, colored pencils, etc. Meaning if I need 3, 24 packs of classic colored crayons, I pick up 3. Now, before I go shopping for the necessary items for their classroom experience, I check all the supplies that I have. When decluttering my desk last week, I found 3 packages of 24 pencils. (one thing I won’t have to purchase as I have them already) I set up their backpacks and add their individual items to their backpacks when I get home, using the lists sent to me by the schools. Their backpacks are then placed AWAY, (in the closet) so that they don’t get into their items. (3 boys aged 8, 6, 3 tend to want to get into their new items).After their school supplies are purchased, I do go through their summer supplies and cull out that which was held onto from last school year. I end up tossing many of last years felt pens (dried over the summer from not being capped after use).The last thing I do for the two older children is create a list of what they need to have on a daily basis, (such as paper, pencils, crayons, pens, paint, brushes), and create a need list that they can check off as they need them. When they run out of pencils, they check it off the list and I add it to my shopping list through out the year. That way they always have what they need at school. My oldest has caught onto the ideal that when he starts to sharpen his last pencil, he needs to ask for more. The middle one is learning.
  4. Our school sends home a supply list for the next year on the last day of school. Since I have 7 kids in school, I can usually bet that I will have one by the time its time to start shopping for school supplies.I make my own list of supplies from that list… (so that I only have to look at one list instead of 7, since they send the list broken down by grade level…. ie… my list says 7 boxes of crayons… instead of looking at 7 lists to see if I need crayons..). I print it off, and carry it with me in my purse. At first I only purchase what I NEED when I see it on sale! one week before school starts we check over the list and go out to buy whatever is left on the list to buy.I also make sure I kept the list that the school sent home on hand through the school year, so that I can refresh supplies as needed. Learning to Fly one day at a time in IN
  5. I don’t know if this will help anyone, but I’ve been going through my two school-age children’s rooms to find “hidden” school supplies and consolidated them all. Then I went through their list of needed supplies, marked off what we had on hand, separated them and stored all that where the 20 month can’t reach. Our next action was to check out all the Sunday flyers for the best bargains and we went out and bought only what we needed (plus extra poster board for those last minute projects). I have also been going through all of their clothes, 15 minutes at a time, to see what we need (and not just want). We are slowly moving bedtimes off of “summer vacation time” and back to school time. We are working on our morning and evening routines so that they will be second nature by the start of school. And of course, no tv in the morning when school starts!
  6. Back to school time is a very big deal in my family. Not only do I have a large family (3 sons and a daughter still at home, 2 sons and a daughter already out of the nest) to get ready for the first day of school, but I am also a teacher, so I have to get myself ready as well! In the past I often found myself taking my kids shopping for clothes, only to discover later that we bought some “really cool” pants for the boy who already had enough pants and who really needed shirts, or other similar problems. Over the years I have come up with a pre-shopping routine that helps me buy the kids what they really need, not just what catches their eye.I start with my oldest son. We bring out ALL his clothes to sort through together. First we weed out anything that is in poor condition (stained, torn up, whatever). These are not mendable items, these are worn out and go into the trash. Next we pull out anything that doesn’t fit. These are set aside for the next oldest son to go through. (Anything he hates and won’t wear go to Goodwill, unless it fits my youngest son and he wants it. I don’t hold clothes over for them to grow into anymore. I always forget they are stashed away in boxes until they don’t fit anyone anyway! LOL) Next I ask if there is anything left that he doesn’t like or never wears. There almost always is something. Again, Goodwill or a younger brother. Finally we try on whatever is left to be sure that they still fit. EVERYTHING! I write down the sizes of the best fitting items and the number of each basic item (shirts, pants, etc.) he has for school. Then I go on to the next brother and repeat the process. (My little girl has no one to get clothes from, but the process is basically the same for her. A friend of hers from her old daycare gets her hand-me-downs.) By the time we get done, everyone has only decent clothes that they like and that fit, and I have a list of exactly what they have and their correct sizes. Then we shop to fill in the gaps. They also always get a couple complete new outfits to wear the first day of school. – Recent FlyBaby in Florida
  7. Dear FlyCrew: As a third grade teacher, I recommend no gel pens – please. Elementary children should not be using pens and the gel pens are too hard on these old eyes. Very difficult to read anything written in pink and yellow especially. Please send in adequate supplies and label with your child’s name. I so often have kids show up with one 70 page notebook and one pencil for the year, so if your budget allows, anything extra is so appreciated. I spend at least $50.00 a year on basic supplies. Also, for any holiday giving, please consider sending in pencils or paper rather then any gifts for the teacher. There are so many needy children out there. – in Louisiana
  8. As a mother of 5, here are my two best “back to school” tips:DO NOT buy any clothes for school until after school actually starts!! Wait one week, or even two, and see what the kids are really wearing this year. Too many times, the outfit that was “perfect” the week before school started is “perfectly hateful” two weeks later. Now, I won’t even consider spending one thin dime before school has been in session a good long time. (This goes for backpacks as well).This year for carpool, drive a limousine. That’s what I do, they call me the Limo Mom. Used limos are cheap — I bought mine for $3,000 — and it’s not near as hard to drive as you would imagine. There are no “secondary markets” for limos, once they are a bit worn out, they’re a real bargain. Mine only had 60,000 miles. Try your local Auto Trader magazine and see what I mean. With 5 kids, I need lots of seat belts and I tell you what, I’ll never drive without a roll-up partition window again!
  9. My 12 year-old loves to shop. He’s got great ($$$) taste as long as I am buying. So last year I gave him an amount that he could spend, this was for school supplies, clothes, shoes, everything. He was allowed to buy whatever notebook, backpack, shoes… he wanted, but had to realize that when the money was gone, he was done. This actually worked wonderfully. He price shopped, and gave up some things he wanted so that he would have enough for his over-priced shoes. This eliminated arguing because he was responsible for what he bought. We will be doing this again this year. – in Kansas
  10. I have been a flybaby for two weeks now. I am in awe at what I have accomplished with baby steps! As I decluttered, I found 80% of new or nearly new school supplies for my two elementary shcool children. WOW! I also found a super store sack with items I meant to take back months ago. With the items I returned, I was able to purchase the rest of the school supplies with money left over! This year I won’t be rushing through the last minute madness and dropping a hundred dollar bill to buy their supplies. Thank You! {{{hugs}}} Flybaby in Oklahoma
  11. I have three boys and we utilize the “hand-me-down” system in our house. Each July, just before the Back to School ads come out, I bring down boxes and boxes of clothes from the attic, empty all of the boys dresser drawers onto the living room floor, as well as the entire contents of their closet. As if starting from scratch, I go through each and every item of clothing and re-stock their closets and drawers. I pack up clothes that no one will fit into, bag up clothes for resale shops, throw away ratty clothes, get rid of things that have gone out of style, etc… I go through the attic clothes and pull out the things that a child has finally grown into. Afterwards, I have boxes to take back to the attic. One with clothes for Boy#2 to grow into (Boy #1 grew out of), and one for Boy#3 to grow into (Boy #1 and Boy#2 grew out of). After all of this is done, I am able to make a list of what each boy still needs for the new school year. I have just looked at *everything* they have, so I know exactly what they need and what they have too much of already.

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