Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Backpacks and Breakdowns.

I'm having a moment.  I just finished back to school shopping and I'm feeling a bit nostalgic.  After three days of buying clothes, supplies and undergarments, I've decided back to school shopping was more fun when it looked like this:

Five years ago, my third child was entering preschool.  My older kids were in elementary grades (entering Kindergarten and 2nd).  My fourth child wasn't even a thought...yet.  Back to school shopping was easy and cheap.  The kids desired character backpacks and lunch sacks, and I chose their back to school clothes.  I shopped at Gymboree and Children's Place.  I bought clearance clothes off the rack at Kohls seasons in advance.  I had stockpiles of adorable little outfits with red stickers proving how much money I saved on every single item.

It was glorious.

All I bought this year was a few new pairs of sneakers, some tops, jeans and shorts and one new backpack. Oh, and three new lunch bags.  This is spread across four kids so truthfully, no one made out like a bandit. I'm mentally exhausted because my kids no longer desire cheap clothes and character backpacks.  Cool sneakers no longer light up when they walk (except for my sweet kindergartner who got a rockin' pair on clearance from Kohls for back to school this year).  Buying what my kids want these days requires serious budgeting, explanations and planning.  This "Back to School" stuff is no walk in the park.

Today my soon to be third grader was salivating over the $65 Under Armour backpacks at Dick's Sporting Goods.  That shouldn't even be legal.  $65!  We were only in the store for a chin strap for my older son's football helmet, not a backpack.  I had to sit my son on a bench at the mall and regroup.  We had to talk and keep moving in the direction of what was affordable and necessary.  He didn't throw a fit, he didn't beg.  But I knew a little explanation was necessary.

It's hard.  It's hard to explain why a $65 backpack is highway robbery.  It's even harder to try and talk my kids into character backpacks that make noise and come outfitted with bling like stuffed animals hanging off the side.

They're fun right?  And they're cheap!  Don't you want to live in Neverland forever?

They don't.  My kids want Nike shoes and gray jeans and my oldest doesn't want cargo shorts because he'd rather have the kind without the big pockets.  My older daughter doesn't buy jeans if they "bag" between the waist and thigh.  My younger son isn't a huge fan of jeans and he wants everything in the youth section of Dick's Sporting Goods.  Shopping has become a giant science experiment that requires patience, time and plenty of Auntie Annie's pretzel cups.

I have to take each child on their own, use coupons and sales, and pray they are willing to try pants on.  And then we find the happy medium between what they want to buy and what is possible.  I'm lucky because my kids understand I can't buy everything.  They are thankful and we have fun.  Today I just had a serious ah-ha moment when I ordered a sale backpack and lunchbox with a coupon from Kohls and I still paid $43.

Those Doc McStuffins backpacks were $12.99.  Sniffle.  Thank heavens for my little five year old who still loves character backpacks and picture books.  When she is begging for Nike sneakers I might just have a breakdown.

You'll find me crying in the light up sneaker department eating Auntie Annie's.

Cheers. Enjoy these last few weeks of summer.  Lunch packing is around the bend!


1 comment:

  1. I love this. I only have 2 and my oldest is 7 (Second Grade), but I already see it coming. We already live in a world of Sports clothes and "big kid" backpacks. It just recently happened. I did not curl up in the fetal position like I wanted to, but I did look at my baby with excitement that I can still buy her a character backback when she is ready. :)

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