School shopping requires strategy
August 21, 2009
I decided to homeschool my kids again this year, but I also feel the back-to-school frenzy that sweeps Wal-Mart aisles across the country, if only because I buy supplies that school children use for the kids' curriculum, co-ops and various classes.
Like many other adults across the country, I get in the trenches of the crowded stores to buy school supplies, which is as peaceful as sitting in front of the loudest speaker at a rock concert, and I detest rock music. Flocks of children assault the aisles ready to grab new pencils, colors and lunch boxes with their claws, grasping backpacks with for their favorite Jonas Brother and Hannah Montana's faces plastered on them.
Parents restrain the wild ones, but their efforts are often fruitless as the crowd is rowdy and unforgiving.
A sound strategy is the only response to the war at hand. When I go to the store with my five young daughters, I'm ready to get in and out as quickly as I can. As my military husband would tell me, I try to become one with my mission. Here are some tips to handle the back to school race:
• Try to go early in the morning or later in the evening, not only are there fewer people but clerks are more willing help out. There's nothing like the blank stare and subsequent, “all of our supplies are right here m'am, if you don't see it we don't have it,” to irritate a stressed out parent.
• Make sure you have your list ready and know where you're going in the store, at least the general direction, wandering the frozen produce aisle in a frenzy won't help you.
• Stock up on strong liquor if you're going to shop the day before school start. Most items will be gone and the ones left, tarnished by little eager fingers.
• If you can, leave younger children home or be ready to buy the same thing that big brother is getting. Nothing like being at the store and having little sis rolling on the ground screaming because she wants the same glue stick as big sis.
• Call the pediatrician to get an appointment for a physical as soon as possible, hopefully you get in with plenty of time before school starts and before panic ensues because there aren't any spots left for your child's check up.
• There are many forms to fill out, once you're done completing them, store away in a safe place. In my house it has to be my nightstand, the only place where my little ones won't go searching for paper to draw on.
Even if you're as organized as Martha Stewart when it gets to back to school time flexibility and patience go a long way. The more I tell myself that I'm going with the flow the easier it is to focus on the excitement of the new year, possibilities and opportunities for my kids.
And if all else fails, maybe send daddy to get school supplies?
Anita Tedaldi is a freelance writer, mother of five and wife of an Air Force pilot. Contact her at: