It's that time of year again - back to school season - and parents and kids often have mixed feelings about it. Kids are usually excited to go back and see their friends, but most of them are kind of sad to see the end of summer, the lazy days soaking in the sun, and the total freedom of doing what they want each day.
Parents, on the other hand, are pretty excited to see the kiddies heading back to school. No more snack patrol, no more chauffeur service, no more constant entertaining and refereeing arguments. But, there is one dreaded task that more parents loathe. Back to school shopping. It's chaotic, there are lots of arguments, and it costs a fortune! Here are 10 things you don't need to buy for back to school shopping.
10 A new wardrobe
Unless your child has gone through a big growth spurt in the summer, there's no real need to invest in a whole new wardrobe just because it's back to school time. Many parents see back to school shopping as a time for updating their children's wardrobe, and if that's what works for you, then go for it.
However, if your child still has a nice closet full of clothes that fit them, save your money and don't worry about buying a bunch of new clothes. It's nice to have a new outfit for the first day of school, but even that isn't really necessary. Use your judgment to decide if your child really needs new clothes. Otherwise, save yourself the hassle (and the money!).
9 New shoes
This follows along the same line as updating your child's wardrobe. If they've outgrown their current shoes, or the school requires certain shoes for them to wear (indoor shoes, gym shoes, etc.) then, of course, you'll need to invest in some new shoes for those growing feet.
But perhaps you just bought your child new shoes in the spring, when their growth spurt wasn't accommodated in their old shoes. If that's the case, save your money for now and wait until the next growth spurt to buy new shoes. They don't need fancy footwear just because it's back to school time.
8 A new backpack
Some of you may be wondering how backpacks could possibly be on this list of items that aren't necessary for back to school shopping, but it's true. Unless last year's backpack is too worse for wear to last another year, or is too gross and grimy to even bother cleaning, there's no real need for a brand new backpack every year.
A better investment would be to splurge on a good-quality backpack that is meant to last several years, perhaps even offering a warranty of some kind (many backpack companies do offer that). You might pay a little more that first year, but when the bag lasts you three and four years, it's well worth the investment.
7 Trapper Keepers or fancy binders
These fancy zip-up binders like Trapper Keepers and other similar brands are certainly cool looking, with all their pockets and holders, but are they really necessary? They cost about four or five times what a basic three-ring binder would cost, and they basically do the same job as that $1.00 binder sitting in the value bin.
If your child doesn't like to carry a separate pencil case, and would prefer all of their supplies to be stored inside a Trapper Keeper, then perhaps this purchase is a necessary one for you. But, other than including some fancy pockets and zippers, these binders don't do much else than the regular ones. Save your money instead.
6 Pencils and erasers
Now, you're probably starting to think we're talking crazy here. Who doesn't need pencils and erasers for school? But think about it: how many cute, colorful pencils does your child have stashed in their craft drawers or up in their bedroom? How many seasonal, cartoon-covered erasers have they stocked up on over the years? Probably lots.
Chances are you have enough pencils and erasers lying around the house to avoid needing to purchase that big huge pack of 100 pencils from the discount store. And on the subject of pencils - avoid the fancy, mechanical pencils too. They cost twice as much as regular pencils, they break easily, and kids are always looking for refills for them. Stick to basics.
5 Packs of loose-leaf paper
We are in a digital age now, and many assignments at school are handed in via a memory stick, email, or likewise. There isn't the same need for packs and packs of loose-leaf paper, like we had to stack up on back in the day.
Unless requested by the school or teacher, don't bother sending your child with reams of paper, as they likely won't need it. Perhaps buy a notebook or two full of lined pages, so they can take notes in class and hand in written assignments, but otherwise, stay green and avoid purchasing unnecessary paper.
In a recent Forbes article, one teacher said that "in my fifteen years of teaching, I've never had anything that required a clipboard for students." There isn't often use for clipboards in class, and yet it is usually on most parents' back to school list of things they need to get.
Again, unless the school or the classroom teacher specifically request this item to be included in your child's back to school items, don't bother with it. If nothing else, start the school year first, and if your child says they need one for school, then buy it.
Now, some may be thinking that in order to hand in neat work that is mistake-free, one might need a bottle of white-out to hide those errors. In reality, though, teachers like to see the thought processes that kids go through when working on a paper. If your child is required to hand in a polished piece of work, then they will likely be typing and printing the assignment out to hand in.
If they are handing in a hand-written assignment, it is not necessary for them to use white-out to fix their errors. A simple scratch through the mistake, with the correct writing above or beside it, should do just fine.
2 Disposable lunch supplies
Plastic waste is a huge problem in our environment, and many people are taking steps to try to limit their single-use plastic consumption. For lunches, there's no need to stock up on disposable sandwich bags, juice boxes, and snack wraps.
Instead, invest in some little containers that can be washed and reused throughout the school year. For the price of a few boxes of sandwich bags, you can make lunches for the entire year using containers. Juice boxes are full of sugar and aren't great for kids to be drinking anyway, so skip the sugary drink and the garbage waste, and send your child with a reusable water bottle that they can refill throughout the day. Better for your child, and better for the environment.
1 Mini packets of hand sanitizer
It's true that these little containers are super cute, come in a variety of nice colors and shimmers, and come in all sorts of wonderful scents. But, their scents are also very strong, and for some people, the smell is just too overpowering. One squirt from these little bottles and an entire classroom will smell for quite a while (based on personal experience), which is enough to make some kids feel sick.
While handwashing is incredibly important, especially during those nasty winter months when everyone seems to be sick with something, it is actually more beneficial to wash your hands with soap and water, rather than using hand sanitizer. Make a point of washing regularly throughout the day, and teach your child to do the same while at school. If you really feel that they should have some hand sanitizer with them, stick with the odorless kind instead.