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School Shopping as a Minimalist Family

Photo by Mikhail Nilov

Even though we’re currently in the throes of summer, busy keeping our kids occupied and making memories, like all good things, summer will come to an end. For many parents, summer is the best time to knock out your back-to-school shopping, so you’re not in a frenzy trying to find everything the week before school starts.

If you’re like a lot of people trying to lead a more intentional and minimalist lifestyle these days, you may be wondering what’s a priority and what isn’t. Of course, you’ll need to purchase all the supplies for the classroom that are on your child’s required list, but when it comes to other school supplies, what’s necessary and what isn’t? Keep reading for tips on how to make sure your kiddos are ready for school but your house isn’t overflowing with unnecessary items. 


Required Reading 

Many schools give required reading lists that must be completed over the summer before children reach their new grade. For parents who consider themselves bookworms, this is an exciting opportunity to ensure your kids are prepared and spend time with them.

Resist the option to purchase every book on the list and select the top ones you know you’ll enjoy together. Check your library first instead of heading to Amazon or Barnes and Noble to buy the books. Not only will you save space on your bookshelf for books your family treasures, but you’ll also save money. If some of the books on the list become favorites, you can purchase one or two. 


School Clothes 

It’s tempting to buy your child a new wardrobe for the upcoming school year. You want them to have the latest trends and a cute first day of school photo. If your child attends a school where a uniform is required, hold off until school gets closer, as they may still fit in last year’s size. Many schools also have uniform “closets” where you can donate items that no longer fit your child and take uniform pieces that do.

If you have to shop for new clothes for your child, take advantage of price reductions. The same way you shopped for baby girl clothes sale when they were infants because they grew so much, you should keep the same mentality through every growth stage. Owning too many clothes can create decision fatigue in you and your child, not to mention a pile of laundry for which you don’t have time.


Invest in Shoes 

Minimalism and intentional living are all about investing in things we use often. Shoes are an area where you should splurge. Your kids wear their shoes day in and out, not to mention need support for recess and other activities. It’s always a good idea to correctly measure your child’s foot before the new school year and purchase a pair of athletic and dressier shoes – you never know what events will happen at school or outside of class where they’ll have to dress up. No parent has time to scramble for appropriate shoes for a recital or other event because they realize the old ones no longer fit.


Stick to Supply Lists

As mentioned earlier, almost every school will send out the required school supply list based on your child’s school needs and grade. While it’s easy to succumb to clever marketing schemes for things your child “should” have, most of these items are unnecessary and get cast aside after the initial excitement disappears. Buy only what your child’s list says they need and maybe a backup or two of items that will get used quickly, but other than that, it’s best to purchase things on an “as needed” basis as they arise – which they always will. 


While summer is an excellent time for kids and parents alike, the familiar routine of school and the time spent with friends is usually welcomed as autumn starts rolling in. Make sure you keep things streamlined, stress-free and mindful while preparing your kids for the upcoming school year so they can focus on more important things. As with many other things they will learn in school, the gift of living with less and prioritizing people over things is something they’ll never forget. 

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