7 Tips for Stress-Free Back-to-School Shopping

Back to School ShoppingBack to School Shopping

For better or for worse, summer is almost over. That means it soon will be time for kids to go back to school. Endless school supply lists and long lines at different stores are enough to make you cranky. Add in bored kids and it can be a recipe for total mayhem or those pesky meltdowns nobody wants to deal with in the summer heat.

So what's a busy mom to do? I mainly shop online to save time (and money thanks to discount codes) but I also plan as much as possible. As a working mom, every minute counts, so if I don't organize myself, it means I would be shopping at the 24-hour pharmacy the night before school starts. Not the worst thing that can happen, but trust me, it's too stressful. Been there, done that.

Related: 12 best songs for soothing first day jitters

I cope with back to school craziness without losing my sanity by following these back-to-school shopping tips:

1. Print out your school's supply list
Make a copy and have it in your bag so you can shop for items you see on sale when you're at the supermarket, warehouse store or office supply retailer.

2. Find out what you already have
Round up what you already have and put in a clear bag labeled with your child's name. Cross off the items from your list.

Related: 5 tricks for getting your kids to school on time

3. Clip coupons
To save money, clip coupons for the items you need to buy. Some retailers accept printed coupons as well. Also monitor sales and specials at supermarkets and pharmacies. Sometimes they have great buy one get one free promotions that save you a lot of money when you have more than one child. Subscribe to email newsletters, too, so you know when sales are going on and get special coupon codes.

4. Don't procrastinate
Don't wait until the last minute. Stores sometimes run out of in demand items such as specific types of notebooks or graph paper the closer you get to the first day of school.

5. Make it exciting
Get your child excited about the new school year by making him or her part of the shopping process. Let your kid pick her or his backpack, notebooks or pencil cases.

Related: 8 days during the school year when kids can use an extra pick-me-up

6. Shop online
If time is at a premium, try online shopping. Always search for promotional codes or discounts before checking out, not only using a search engine but on Twitter and the brand's official Facebook page. Prefer sites that offer free shipping or a flat-fee shipping rate. Also check the return policy; some stores offer easy returns and pre-printed shipping labels. Others are not so return-friendly.

7. Get the uniform
Some schools require uniforms. Make sure regulations haven't changed from last year. To save money, sometimes you can buy plain polo shirts at a mass retailer and then have them embroidered with your school's logo. However, there are schools that are very strict about who provides their uniforms; if that's your case, also try to shop early to get your child's size.

- By Jeannette Kaplun
Follow Jeannette on Babble

For 7 back to school sales you shouldn't miss, visit Babble!


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Jeannette Kaplun is a Latina mom that co-founded Todobebé, co-hosts the weekly Viva la Familia de Todobebé TV show on Univision and loves to help others even if she doesn't always practice what she preaches. Forever running from one place to another, she's given up on being a perfect mom and has come to terms with the fact that sometimes trying your best is the best you can do. Born in the USA and raised in Chile, she now lives in Miami, Florida with her husband and two children, who are being raised bilingual.

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