Tonight, we meet the boys’ teachers. As my 8yo says, “Meet the Teacher Night is just a cruel reminder that school is about to start.”
So, today we’ve been busy labeling and packing school supplies into backpacks. We also made one last trip to the store for the last few items we’d missed.
School supplies are a struggle for me. There is just something about 30 cent bottles of glue and 25 cent boxes of crayons that make you think you need to buy a box for everyone you’ve ever known. (And everyone you might ever meet.)
But, at the risk of being hauled away to the loony-bin, I talked myself out of over-buying this year. I did my best to keep my lips from moving while I stared at, walked away from, returned to, and stared again at bin after bin of irresistible deals.
I think that my resolve has been greatly strengthened by all of my decluttering in the past year. I have unearthed so many places where I had squirreled away extra scissors, crayons, markers, and paper that I hadn’t resisted in years past. I may have had noble intentions to donate them, but the fact was that they had been forgotten and had morphed into clutter.
Another thing that I find hard to resist during Back to School time is the desire to re-buy things that could be used again. For some reason, it seems okay to buy a new backpack, new pencil-box, new scissors, new ruler, etc. . . . even though the ones from last year are in perfectly good shape – and are already labeled!
Like everything else in life, there’s balance. I emphasize to my kids how important good behavior and combed hair is on the first day of school (and every day). First impressions, while not always fair, are a real part of life. When you have the opportunity to control them, you should. When a teacher sees that you took the time to comb your hair in the morning before school, she also sees that you take school seriously. You didn’t just roll out of bed and stumble into school with your hair sticking up on one side and dried-up drool on your face.
Along these lines, it’s important to start school with shoes that don’t have holes in them. Not because we should judge anyone whose shoes do have holes, but because we want to show our teachers that we take school seriously and have spent time preparing for it.
But somehow, this also seems to transfer into feeling like we need to buy a new pencil box when our old one looks just as good as it did last year . . . when it was new. And why can’t you use a ruler for more than one year?
While I do want the first day of school to be exciting for its newness and freshness, I have to teach my kids the thing that I am also struggling to learn. Spending money to buy something that I don’t need, no matter how great of a deal it is, is ultimately a waste of our money, our space, and Mommy’s sanity.
So this year, I did much better than I have in the past few years, taking the time to find and take stock of the things we could use again, and only buying what we really needed. And it turns out that even though I was resisting “unbeatable” sales, I actually spent LESS than I used to.
OK, I’m hoping that this post is more coherent than I’m feeling right now. While shopping for those last few school supplies, I let the kids pool their saved money and buy Wipeout for Wii. Since the Wii is right next to my non-portable computer, I’m a little distracted. Not that I’m complaining, because next week when the house is unnaturally quiet, I know I’ll miss them.