Whether you’re hit with a bout of nostalgia for those old school days, or breathe a sigh of relief thinking “Thank heavens, that’s over,” the school supply list that arrives faithfully in your mail or email probably evokes memories. If it’s not memories of your own school days, it’s memories of school supply shopping. And if you dread school supply shopping, you’re not alone.
Whether it’s the cool new backpack with the latest “in” character on it, or a specific loose-leaf because “everybody has it,” kids definitely have their preferences. From the sound of it, it might seem like their whole school experience, their social status, their friendships, not to mention their future, depends on the turquoise spiral notebook with three dividers and the right brand name on the cover. As a parent, it’s easy to be intimidated by kid’s oratory skills about how their life will be ruined if they don’t get this (and get it now). They can paint curiously vivid pictures of your cruelty in denying them their “needs.” What kind of parent wants their child to suffer agonies of embarrassment?
Don't get caught in that trap.
Rather, avoid the trap completely. Sit down with each child and their school supply list. Before you go into the store, make a list of what they will need. Kids can prove surprisingly reasonable when the colorful aisles aren’t catching their eye. Tell them how much you’re willing to spend, and which stores you’re willing to visit. Then, no matter what, stick to the list. Before you go anywhere, check your own house. You’ll be surprised at how many items you actually already have on hand that pile up from year to year. Designate a box to collect them in, so they don’t get lost in the hassle, and the kids will always know where to find them.
Even though you don’t want to acquiesce to all your child’s desires, that doesn’t mean you will always want to say no. You can give them a good lesson in budgeting. Because you gave them a clear budget to start with, they can now pick a more expensive item, for trading off on other supplies that are cheaper. This will teach them limits while letting them have their own way, making everyone happy.
Contributed by CU Content