Is it me, or was this the fastest summer ever? I feel like it was just weeks ago when my three girls burst through the front door, tossed their backpacks in the closet and did that happy dance that only the last day of school can bring. I was right there dancing with them—no more lunch making or early morning rushes for a while. Woo-hoo!
And now, here we are, already facing another school year. Miraculously, my daughters are filled with excitement again. It’s so sweet to me: They go to school in the same building at the same time with the same kids, and yet somewhere deep inside, they know that every year holds the possibility that something new and spectacular will happen. And it will. They will grow up a little more, learn a lot more and get to know themselves more and more, preparing them for the world that awaits them.
It’s up to us, as their parents, to prepare them for the adventure that lies ahead. That means not only instilling them with good values and hoping they’ll make good choices, but providing them with those smaller, more tangible tools for success. Like, you know, notebooks and pencils and a few decent outfits that might help lift their self-confidence on the days when they’re just not feeling it.
Stuff is not everything, but it is something when it comes to preparing your kids for the school year ahead. It can be expensive, though, if you get caught up in the frenzy. So here are three little tricks I’ve learned for back-to-school season that help keep me calm, my kids psyched and our bank account flush.
Take inventory: Before we go shopping for new outfits, we put on some music, and with my help and encouragement, the girls go through their closets to see what still fits and decide what they want their style to be for the next school year. They love this concept, because it gives them a sense of independence and identity. Then they make three piles: keep, donate and hand-me-down. One of the major pluses of having three girls is the hand-me-downs! They grow so fast that often Lola “shops” in her older sister, Luca’s, closet and Fiona can “shop” in Lola’s. For super-cute clothes that Luca can see her sisters rocking, we store piles in clear plastic boxes labeled with the size. The little girls love sifting through the boxes to find “new” clothes and feel a special bond with their big sis when they wear her cool stuff.
Shop discount and vintage stores: I remember when going to big box stores was embarrassing, but those days are gone. Target and Walmart have become two of my favorite places to find cool stuff. But also, back then, Isabel Marant wasn’t sold at H&M, Prabal Gurung wasn’t on the racks at Target, and Derek Lam didn’t have a line at Kohl’s. Of course, Lola and Fiona couldn’t care less about the tags in their clothes, which is awesome. And Luca is 16 and lives for a good vintage store find, which is equally awesome, as she can find designer duds for, oh, $20. It’s a win-win.
Buy in bulk: I need to get school supplies for three kids, and luckily, many of their needs like pencils, pens and notebooks overlap. So rather than buy each item à la carte, I try to buy them in bulk, especially if I see a sale. At Costco, for example, I can get 96 pencils for $15 or 16 cents a pop. We have a closet of surplus school supplies that the girls dip into throughout the year whenever they need to replenish. And often, we’ll even donate extras to the teachers. They always appreciate the extra help, and it makes the girls feel good to help out.
For deals on supplies, clothes, electronics and more, check out RetailMeNot’s back-to-school coupon page!