I Don’t Back-To-School Shop and My Kids are Angelic Shoppers

by Lucky Red Hen on August 13, 2013

Am I the only one who doesn’t take their kids back-to-school shopping? Friends have been posting about the horrors, tears, gnashing of teeth, and enormous money they’re spending these last couple weeks.

Here’s the thing… my kids already have clothes. They wear clothes every day until they’ve grown out or ruin them. Except for church clothes (he has a suit, she has a couple dresses) and camping clothes (grubby jeans, stained sweatshirts, and crappy shoes), we don’t have separate school/play clothes.

We buy as we need, look for deals or clearance racks, and peruse the local thrift shops when we are out and about. My kids aren’t huge fans of clothes shopping so breaking it up works for us.

Luckily, our kids are great shoppers, always have been. I only have two kids, so that gives me a slight advantage over someone who juggles more (to whom I bow and honor for their valiance because I could not do it, which is why I stopped at two).

The main reason my kids behave angelically in public is largely due to managing their sleep and hunger. A sleepy and/or hungry kid (or mom, right?) does not make a fun shopping companion. I’m a stickler about bed/nap time and won’t take them out if they aren’t well-rested because that would be miserable for me. Yes, it’s all about me (said tongue-in-cheek).

If momma ain't happy ain't nobody happy.

The second reason is making sure they get to see something that makes them happy, not just getting dragged around from store to store only looking at what I want. We usually stop by the toy section after I’ve plowed through my stuff. That’s their payoff for behaving. They don’t ask me to buy them toys. Instead, if they really like something, they ask me to add it to their Wish List or watch for it to go on sale so they can buy it.

In a couple weeks, after school starts, we’ll probably get a list of items we could donate to the elementary classroom and I’ll send some in (we already received a bill for $99 worth of fees for the junior high kid; I couldn’t imagine paying that AND for new clothes, yikes!) Other than that, my kids use their backpack’s until they’re shredded, lunch boxes until they don’t work anymore (we LOVE the Pack-It because it keeps their cold stuff cold), and binders until they fall apart. I buy folders, paper, pens, and pencils when they’re on sale and store them in my office for when they need more.

Countdown has begun… one week left until school starts!


Julie Watts August 13, 2013 at 9:19 pm

I don’t like shopping either…hence I’m not as diligent about going at least once a season. Nope. So the only time I feel required to do it is Back To School. Maybe I’ll schedule a seasonal shopping trip into my iphone. Because no matter what, when I shop right before school starts, the stores are always out of whatever size my kids are! No wonder I don’t like shopping! I’m doing it all wrong!

Lucky Red Hen August 20, 2013 at 9:13 pm

We have the same problem with hard-to-find sizes and also think it’d be cool to NOT have the same shirt that twenty other kids at school are wearing.

Ben Lane Hodson August 13, 2013 at 9:19 pm

I’ll also add that I might only remember once in their entire childhood lives (including toddler age) where a tantrum was thrown in a store. It ended quickly because we put down our stuff and left. Not only did we not want to suffer but we did not want to inflict our child’s behavior on others.

Either we lucked out with amazing shopper kids or maybe there’s something to this sleep and eating thing.

Lucky Red Hen August 20, 2013 at 9:12 pm

We did luck out but I owe it all to us being awesome parents ;)

Sharon Breshears August 13, 2013 at 11:35 pm

I completely agree! But, there was a time when I bought new lunch boxes AND new backpacks, just because it was a new year….last years gently used model was perfectly fine….but I had the $ so I succumbed to all the hype. I don’t have the $ now and as I look back, I think of all the $ I wasted. Oh, and I won’t even talk about the new school clothes. It’s taken me a long time, but I have finally gotten smart :) the only time I buy a new “anything” is only when the old “one” wears out. Yay me for adding a higher digit to my IQ!

Lucky Red Hen August 20, 2013 at 9:11 pm

If I knew then what I know now… sigh :)

Lori Allred August 14, 2013 at 2:56 am

Honestly I came to read this because I was sure of your reasons for not school shopping was because you don’t like “wearing” clothes and figured you were teaching your kids the same thing LOL. Loved the post though!!

Lucky Red Hen August 20, 2013 at 9:11 pm

And there’s the underlying truth to this whole scenario, Lori. Nudity would make things so much easier ;)

Lindsey August 14, 2013 at 1:40 pm

Will you be my mom?

Lucky Red Hen August 20, 2013 at 9:10 pm

Ok. Go wash the dishes and take out the trash. Thanks.

Amber @ Dessert Now, Dinner Later! August 15, 2013 at 3:11 pm

My kids are pretty young still (4 & 2) but my son is going to pre-school. The only thing I have bought him is a backpack. Lol. I don’t think you should get all crazy for school. If there is a need for new shoes or pants or whatever then get it, but for fashion purposes…ridiculous. We are pretty frugal & only get what we need. Why go bankrupt for school? Isn’t that what Christmas & birthdays are for?

Lucky Red Hen August 20, 2013 at 9:10 pm

There are plenty of things we have to spend our $ on for school, Amber! I’m glad you’re in my boat!

Heidi August 15, 2013 at 4:04 pm

We homeschool and last year I went crazy and WAY overbought – the same stuff I would have gotten to contribute to an entire class. I might be able to get away with the same stuff until they graduate and move out…

Lucky Red Hen August 20, 2013 at 9:09 pm

I hear you can resell a lot of homeschool supplies when you’re done, but I guess you have a long time to wait until then ;)

Kami August 15, 2013 at 4:14 pm

Hey! So, I feel we are pretty much alike with this post. That said, I only have a preschooler and a 2 year old but guess what?? We don’t ever have to shop for clothes because we are lucky enough to get hand-me-downs! Yay! We buy things as needed. I am such a stickler on naps and bedtime too! Seriously, my siblings and friends think I’m a crazy lunatic for putting the girls down at 7pm after they just had a nap at 2pm! But hey, it makes them happy, which makes me happy, which makes my husband happy…the circle of life right?!

Lucky Red Hen August 20, 2013 at 9:08 pm

Happy family, that’s priority! Good on ya!

Kami August 15, 2013 at 4:16 pm

PS: my daughter just asked if she can get a new backpack this year with Belle on it instead of Sleeping Beauty (last year’s backpack). Because I’m a cheap-o and her backpack is still like new, I think I will just go get a Belle patch from Joann’s and put it over Sleeping Beauty’s face! Seriously!

Lucky Red Hen August 20, 2013 at 9:08 pm

No, you’re GENIUS! My daughter unearthed her backpack from preschool that I had embellished with patches she picked out (and bedazzled her name on it) and asked to use it this year instead of last year’s. A backpack rotation program is a good idea, too.

Leanne August 16, 2013 at 5:56 am

You’re awesome! Since we’re moving I told my kids all their clothes are new since no one at their new school has seen them yet.

Lucky Red Hen August 20, 2013 at 9:06 pm

Moving is a wee bit more expensive than buying new clothes, but that totally works! I’m excited for you to move with your sweetheart but will miss seeing/squeezing you around here. XoxO

Yvonne @ TriedandTasty August 17, 2013 at 7:02 am

Wow – this was a great read. Growing up I never was one that got to go back to school shopping each year. We were like you – we didn’t have separate clothes for school and for play. We had clothes for everything and we wore them until like you said, we grew out of them or they were worn out. I would always have friends whose parents would spend boatloads of money on clothes. After the first week or two, no one cared anyway what you were wearing!

Also – I love that your kids are angelic when they shop with you. I think you hit the nail on the head with making sure they are rested and fed, that’s SUPER important. Heck – I don’t even want to shop when I’m hungry and tired!

Lucky Red Hen August 20, 2013 at 9:05 pm

Realizing that *I* don’t like shopping hungry or tired put it into perspective for me, Yvonne. Food and rest THEN shop!

Lotus September 12, 2013 at 2:03 pm

Finally someone who thinks like me! For the new school year, I buy what is on the school supply list that we don’t already have (or can be made) and one new outfit for the first day of school. That’s it! Why buy a bunch of new clothes when they have plenty from last year. And you are buying a bunch of summer clothes, because it’s still pretty hot when they go back to school, that most likely aren’t going to fit next year. I buy stuff as the year goes on and I see what she has grown out of or what has holes in it. When we went to the dreaded mall for her first day of school outfit, I saw women running around with piles and piles of clothes. One woman’s total was over $500 for one kid (shockingly, this child was also talking to her mother like she was a slave and still throwing more clothes at her mother as her mother was trying to pay for the giant pile already accumulated). Hmmm, I wonder why todays kids have such entitlement issues.

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