Surviving ‘back to school’ week


With my kids back in school, it seems we survived yet another year of back-to-school madness.

The “summer” went so fast. As soon as July ended, I knew the school year was upon us, but I just wasn’t ready. Within one week—as if I did not have the previous month—we had to buy clothes and school supplies.

As usual, the stores were extra busy. Despite all the frenzied activity, however, I was proud of my fellow parents, who, for the most part, remained polite and helpful, as we hunted for things like pre-sharpened pencils, and that particular color of spiral notebook. As a back to school survivor, I have a couple of suggestions that I hope will make next year a little easier on us.

My first observation is that I think most parents didn’t really have time to mentally prepare for getting back to school. Sure, we probably had the same amount of “summer” days as past years, but with school starting the first week in August, it felt like we only had one weekend to shop before school was back in session.

I think I can speak for many parents who probably prefer the school year to begin and end a little later. This would give us more mental preparation as we get our children transitioned back to school. There is just something about being in the middle of summer that subconsciously suggest to me that it is still vacation time. Or maybe I just prefer to go back to school after Labor Day when the fall season is approaching, like we use to do when I was a kid.

My second observation is simply in regards to how specific the school supplies lists are. I had to go out four different times and shop three different stores to find all the supplies my children needed. Why does my child need a Mead 5-subject, wide rule notebook? Couldn’t five one subject notebooks work? Why do the pencil box have to be plastic with specific dimensions, 8x5x2? Could we just indicate that the children need a container for their pencils, crayons and markers?

While I understand the need to ensure a certain level of uniformity and preparedness when it comes to school, I could see from the looks on my fellow parent shoppers’ faces that these lists are becoming very cumbersome.

In the end, retailers must love this time of year because parents are spending money, and this will undoubtedly help our economy. However, with a seemingly shorter timeframe to shop, I predict there will be an increase in GDP from the previous quarter but a decrease compared to last year.

Yet, as I stood in Wal-Mart for the fourth time, at 11pm, trying to purchase the very last yellow poly-folder with pockets, one immutable truth came to mind. Most parents are willing to sacrifice time, money, and a little bit of sanity to ensure their children have the resources they need to feel comfortable and confident in school!

We want our children to succeed, and no government program can construct this type of sacrificial love and commitment!

[Bonnie B. Willis is co-founder of The Willis Group, LLC, a Learning, Development, and Life Coaching company here in Fayette County and lives in Fayetteville along with her husband and their five children.]