School Supplies Can Suck It

Yep. That’s generally how I feel about the extremely long list of school supplies I have to buy each summer for each kid.

I have kids in both private and public school this year and neither one is better than the other when it comes to draining my already limited cash flow. I have to ask myself, shouldn’t my expensive tuition cover the supplies my kids need or shouldn’t my super high property taxes and state taxes fund this stuff?

Yes! Yes, they should in my humble opinion but we all know it’s never gonna happen. If the parents don’t buy it, then the poor teachers are stuck picking up the tab, and if the teachers have already spent beyond their own out-of-pocket limit, then the kids do without.

Personally, I’m of the mind that the kids are probably better off without things like the brand-specific Papermate felt tip pens in black anyway. Particularly, because they were sold out at my Target and this was suppose to be a one trip nightmare and done sort of thing.

Nope. Lucky me, I get to claw my way through all of the other frazzled parents in the busy aisles of “back-to-school land” once again. And not just because of those stupid pens. My daughter just said “Oops. I grabbed the college-ruled paper instead of the wide-ruled and I forgot I actually needed two more spiraled notebooks. And my composition books don’t really go with my color scheme.”

Are you kidding me?

I wasn’t aware that school supplies could even fall under the VSCO girl category–the latest and greatest trend right now. That reminds me, I still need to order uniforms for the boys, get new backpacks to replace the greasy tattered ones and go school clothes shopping for my wanna-be-so-trendy middle schooler. Add that to the two birthdays coming up along with school sport fees, band fees, and our last ditch summer vacay that’s too late to cancel without losing a hefty deposit.

Excuse me a minute. Suddenly my laptop screen is starting to look a little blurry and (choke) it’s getting a bit hard to type. Oh–my bad, it’s from the tears that are welling up in my eyes right now. I guess if you guys don’t hear from me again after this blog, it’s probably because I sold my laptop, among other things, so I can fund this spendy, but not quite as fun (minus the vacation of course) Christmas in July.

Sigh. It’s not even August yet but hey…

Welcome back alright.

I’ve been trying not to notice those harsh reminders that we’re more than halfway through summer already. I’m still trying to come up with more summer activities for my kids to do while at the same time, trying to ignore the commercials for back-to-school sales. I’m not ready to see the large pencil-shaped signs in the stores, pointing the way to the bins full of Crayola Twistables and erasers. I don’t even want to be aware of, let alone open, those emails being sent from the school.

I can try to run, but I sure can’t hide. My daughter, Miss Sassy McNaggy, has been asking me every single day if we could go shopping for her school supplies. Since I knew being a slacker would only cause me further trouble down the road, I sucked it up and went.

A rough estimate here but not counting the backpacks, lunch bags, shoes, clothes and the like, I’m still spending a little over two bills for three kiddos’ school necessities. I’ve tried shopping the stores online in the past to save the trouble but it doesn’t save the money. Somehow I still end up going back to the actual store anyway, because something in the order always gets screwed up.

I’ve tried shopping at a different stores each year to see if one was better than the other in terms of cost but they all seem relatively comparable. The only way to really save money is to be on the look-out for deals when they happen. That involves rotating through each one of the stores to catch that so-called deal those weeks right before school starts.

Though financially it would be wise to be like the coupon lady or some kind of cheapskate mom looking for the bargains all around town, I don’t have time to be making my rounds through all of the stores that carry school supplies. I can’t drag my kids to one store just to save fifty cents on a pack of Ticonderoga pencils and then to another for ten cents off of index cards. Not to mention, I simply don’t find this whole process to be a pleasurable experience. Shocking, I know.

Don’t get me wrong–I like a new box of crayons as much as the next person but unfortunately, that’s not all there is on those summer kill-joy lists.

In my perfect world, buying my kids’ school supplies should look like this:

Keeping up with the dream, I’d find them all at the dollar store and my kids–or the teachers for that matter–wouldn’t be picky about where I got them or if they were a crappy off-brand.

Back in the 80-90s, all we really needed was a Trapper Keeper, a pencil case, a few notebooks, maybe a highlighter and some pencils and pens. If you were a young girl back then, you could add in a few luxury items, like some Lisa Frank products.

Ah–but that was then and this is now.

This is what reality looks like:

That pile of stuff is actually for just two of my kids at the moment. This year I get to skip the Kindergarten shopping and simply pay fifty bucks for all of the supplies my little guy’s classroom will need–the buying part of it will kindly be done by his teacher. Even though Kinders are probably the most fun to shop for out of the three, I sort of like this set-up. My middle schooler would disagree, I’m sure.

If only the lists weren’t so long and ultra-specific, I might not be so cranky about it. It’s a little irksome when they want you to buy a pack of four large gluesticks but only three or six packs are sold where you’re at. Should you be stingy and buy three or spring for the pack of six? I was too pissed by the time those fat little gluesticks came into my view so…stingy it will be–you’re gettin’ three.

There are a few items here and there that offer some wiggle-room but in my case, certain supplies need to be brand-specific. Also, many things will be shared in the classroom as well so it’s not like I can rummage through the office to find things to stash in my kid’s pencil pouch and call it a day. Although, I might be able to find that family-sized box of tissue or those Lysol wipes around here somewhere…

Now, I wouldn’t mind having my one kid reuse his Fiskar scissors (if only he brought them home) or his markers (does it matter if he’s missing the black, yellow, and green?) but the truth is, I’m not exactly sure what happened to the majority of last year’s school supplies.

I’m sort of wondering if it’s really necessary to have all of these things. Did Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin carry more than a few books, a pencil and writing paper to school? No, not likely, but they still had a good enough education to get into NASA and heck, they’re the first humans to have ever set foot on the moon! All of it had been accomplished without the three-pronged pocket folders and pack of Post-it Notes. Say that three times fast.

It would be nice if the schools could go back to providing a few things many of us grew up with:

  • Those pointy metal scissors with either “right” or “left” stamped into them. We all need to learn that scissors are sharp so why not start this lesson early, the way we did in the good ‘ol days?
  • Sharing is caring. Share those flippin’ rulers, compasses, paint brushes, and anything else that can be used several times over, year after year. Broken crayons? That’s their problem. Put them all in a box in the middle of the table and let those kids have at it.
  • Buy things in bulk like those giant tubs of white paste with its unique smell that I find myself craving now and then. Who cares if a few kids get hungry and like having a little school paste for a snack? Not something I’ve ever been into but to each their own, I say.
  • Bringing back the chalkboard is up for debate. On the one hand, chalk is pretty darn cheap. However, I’m not sure what’s more toxic, chalkboard dust or huffing whiteboard/smartboard markers. I guess maybe the markers are safer since not every child is a huffer.
  • Ok, so this isn’t a school supply but since we’re talking about things we’d might want to bring back, how about old math? The new math with the trees and the endless steps it takes to subtract 390 from 800 is killing me. Holy Hannah, just borrow from the damn eight and be done with it!

Maybe I should just be thankful that I haven’t made it to the scientific calculator years yet. Even so, it’s still painful to spend that kind of money on markers and notebooks galore. My fault for having three kids I guess–but when I was growing up, the lists we had were no where near the elongated lists our children are given now so how was I supposed to know?

It may be a drop in the bucket for some but I imagine there are quite a few families out there that might have to choose between supplies or groceries. Sure, there are programs and charities to help the poorest of the poor but not everybody qualifies for those sorts of things. Even if you don’t qualify, it doesn’t mean forking over that kind of money is exactly easy peasy lemon squeezy.

The whole thing is a conundrum, I tell you, and there must be a better way to do this! I’d like to save some money on school supplies while saving my own sanity by not having to traipse all over the state to pick up deals.

As I’ve said before, I’ve tried shopping online at stores like Target and Walmart but next year, I think I’m going to try to find it all on Amazon Prime. Since I won’t have to worry about meeting that minimum to get the free shipping, I can order my goodies one by one if I so choose, whenever I see a nice deal. My butt won’t even have to leave the couch and Amazon can come right back to pick it up if they get it wrong. Perfect. Let’s just hope those Papermate felt tip pens in black are actually included with prime.

Do any of you out there have the same problems I seem to have with those dreadful school supply lists? Have you found a simple and less expensive way to fill up your kids’ back-packs with the required items?

Let me know, I’d love to hear your feedback! Otherwise, you’re welcome to cry with me if you’d like. I’ll bring the wine…or beer…or cocktail, I’m not picky with the adult beverages–just the school supplies!

Line ’em up!

6 thoughts on “School Supplies Can Suck It

  1. kat July 29, 2019 / 9:36 pm

    I loved back to school shopping when I was a kid, but with my oldest about to start Kindergarten, I think I’m going to hate it. His list isn’t long, but I’m kind of hung up on the 6 reams of paper. I guess I naively thought the school, which is in a very nice, well to do area, would provide paper. What bothers me the most, though, is that my husband and I are of two different kinds when it comes to school supplies. I was raised to make do with what we already had and what was on sale even though my parents could afford better, so I had wanted to stockpile the basic supplies over the past 5 years when they were on sale. My husband is of the mind that he makes enough to spoil the kids, so there’s no reason to not spend hundreds on nice, brand name supplies. Hmm, I wonder if it’s too late to return to the days of chalkboard tablets and chalk. I don’t drink, but I’ll take a virgin cocktail!

    Liked by 1 person

    • LadyofTumult July 29, 2019 / 10:47 pm

      I would love to stockpile, to me that makes more sense! Unfortunately, my list is super specific so I might grab your basic markers but the school will ask for the fine tip washable kind of course and it changes every year with every teacher. Enjoy your first Kindergarten supply shopping trip though, those are actually the fun times that bring all the nostalgia back!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. tonyaranumoab August 6, 2019 / 8:26 pm

    Like everything else, I save all year for school supplies so it doesn’t hurt too too much. But it always costs more than I have budgeted, somehow. I feel your pain. I’m getting one ready for college and holy moly THAT is a budget buster – so much so I started a new budget category for my 13-year-old (after the sticker shock) and I’m saving $20.84 a month until July 2023. However, most likely by then, everything will cost double. Here’s an idea for fun: play school supply store with your kids. This is an annual tradition at my house after we buy all the supplies. Even my soon-to-be college student still wants to play. Only this time it will be dorm supply store. Cheers!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • LadyofTumult August 6, 2019 / 9:39 pm

      Yikes–it never ends does it? On top of your basic school supplies, furnishing a square box of a dorm room can’t be cheap! And here I am whining about pens and pocket folders…The school supply store sounds cute, I think my kids would get a kick out of that! Do you have a particular way that you guys play it/set it up since it’s a tradition?

      Liked by 1 person

      • tonyaranumoab August 6, 2019 / 9:47 pm

        One person is the store owner and she sets up her store the way she wants it. Then the shoppers come and the store owner helps everyone (because they are looking for something very specific). It all gets bagged up and off they go. Then the shoppers are the delivery people with new merchandise. We all take turns. If you have a play cash register even better but if not a remote control and a “beep!” works as well too. I hope your kids like the idea and it takes the sting out of the cost a little. You have a lot of supplies so that will make a great store! 😊

        Liked by 1 person

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