Alright mamas… Either you’re the mom crying because you can’t believe your baby is growing so fast or you’re the mom giving high fives to your girlfriends because Yay! The kids are going back to school. Either way, you gotta do that dreaded school shopping.
This year I was the mom who took cues from parents who carefully plan ahead for smart and affordable back to school shopping. Two main reasons I changed my usual routine of waiting until the final 10 days. One - retailers start creating their Back to School sections as early as the Fourth of July and typically offer some sort of incentive during the early weeks to jumpstart sales. Two - back to school shopping is an expensive endeavor, but with category planning and a willingness to shop early and often, you’ll be able to save on plenty of back to school items.
Planning Ahead Tips. Separate your list into categories like supply list, backpack/lunch, clothes (tops/bottoms/jackets) and shoes. Then take an inventory of the things your child already has. You’ll be amazed at the forgotten items you can find in a drawer or last year’s backpack. Remember to have your child try on last year’s clothing, my kids still fit 50% of last year's basics.
Make a solid list of what needs to be replaced in your phone so you can keep an eye out throughout the summer when you're out and about. This list also gives you time to compare prices online. Most stores will price match if you can show them a competitor item with lower price tag, don’t hesitate to ask at the register!
Last tip - Ask other parents if they’d consider participating in a clothes swap. Because our school has a basic color code policy, we’ve been able to rotate between friends!
School Supplies. Get hip to First Day School Supplies. Start by choosing your school name, select your grade and gender, then it gets delivered directly to you home all labeled with your child's name! Plus many schools get a small percentage of the sales. It’s super easy and you’ll save a ton of money because you won’t be buying all the unnecessary items your kids beg for at the store.
Backpack / Lunch Box. I researched lunch box reviews like a crazy mama this year. Thankfully you all helped respond to my instagram stories with your recommendations with reason why. Pottery Barn Kids not only have the cutest designs, they customize their names making it extra special for my boys. The quality will help keep these for a few years. I especially like the option to add a bento box insert for the days I’m super prepared to make organized lunches.
Clothes / Shoes. I’m lucking currently because my guys are wearing the exact same size. My go to stores for basic solid shirts, shorts, and pants are H&M, Old Navy, American Apparel & Target. H&M is the most stylish, Old Navy has great deals, American Apparel only carries basics and are the best softest material and of course Target because (well I'm there all the time) and the Cat & Jack brand is affordable and adorable.
My kids are rough with a capital R on shoes, for this reason I start by buying them each one pair of sports tennis shoes and one casual dress up pair. And repeat 3 times throughout the school year. I can score casual dress up at H&M and Zappos. For sports shoes, I try to look at Nike or Adidas outlets first, other wise I’ll look at the shoe departments at Macy’s or Nordstrom.
The key to avoiding the frustration of back to school shopping is to plan ahead and shop early and often! Enjoy the last of Summer friends!