Why My Teens Are Doing Their Back-To-School Shopping Without Me

No! No! No!

Just no! I can’t do this. I am a 40-something mom of two kids who is about to have a tantrum, the kind where you lie on the floor kicking your feet, yelling it’s not fair and refusing to participate.

Why? Did you ask why?

Back to school, that’s why! It has nothing to do with summer ending and my kids going back to school. I am ready for that. I love summer, but I love the school year too. There are joys in all of it and just like I was ready for a change of pace last May, I am ready for a change of pace now. So no, it is not the act of going back to school that is stressing me out. It is back-to-school shopping. The very mention of it sends chills down my spine!

school supplies
I’m taking the back-to-school shopping monkey off my back and strapping it securely on my kids’ backs.

I Hate Back-to-School Shopping


Have you ever tried to find school clothes for a teen girl? Clothes that fit within the school dress code. It is August, it’s hot. It will still be hot in September. When it is hot, what do we want to wear? Shorts! We want to wear shorts! On the first day of school my daughter will not be wearing shorts, she will be sporting jeans. Shorts, for a girl, that meet the required school dress code DO NOT EXIST!

By the way…neither do skirts, so do not even try to soothe my anxiety by throwing that option out there.For us momma’s of tall girls, it is even worse! My daughter is a 6’ tall beanpole. Not even the 5” long shorts, which are extra generous in their length, are going to pass the dress code when you have long legs and wear a size 4.

The good news is most stores carry shirts in a size XL and sometimes even a size XXL, so we can buy the biggest size in the hope that it will hang off her body enough to reach the top of her jeans. I mean, who could ask for more!

Note that I have not mentioned my son. That’s because boys’ shorts are ALWAYS long enough. As long as he doesn’t show up to school in a t-shirt that promotes alcohol, drugs or offensive language, he is good to go.

School Supplies

School supply shopping is so much fun! No really, I love walking down the aisles of every store in town trying to find the green 2-pocket poly portfolio with prongs (translation the green plastic folder). Not red, not blue…the GREEN folder. I amuse myself by thinking that we have to have green because green is color of money and with all of the papers that will be neatly organized in the pockets and prongs of this sturdy plastic folder, my child will learn the things necessary for making money.

But, my favorite supplies to search for are specific things like a .77oz stick of disappearing glue. Everyone knows that large glue stick is gone by August. The super-organized moms purchased them all as soon as school supplies showed up on the shelves (two days after the last school year ended). Now the rest of us are stuck buying the three-pack of .28oz sticks. As we are dropping the three-pack into the carts, our kids are reminding us that the teacher asked for one .77oz stick. Parenting fail.

I could go on, but why bother?

I want to raise children who become successful adults. I want them to understand basic things like how to handle stress, how to find alternative solutions, how to follow the rules even when we don’t like them, how to budget money. So, this year, I’m taking the back-to-school shopping monkey off my back and strapping it securely on my kids’ backs.

Instead of going back-to-school shopping I am sending my kids to do it on their own. They have the school supply list and can read. They know what clothes work in the dress code.

Life Lessons My Kids Learn From Back-to-School Shopping

How to budget their money

I am going to send them with money and the list of what they need to buy. It will be up to them to get everything on their list. I will suggest that they buy the “must-haves” first and use the extra money for the “wants.” I will also suggest that if they want the more expensive shoes, they might want to look for jeans that are on sale so they can afford them.

How to access and manage their money

They have seen me swipe or insert my debit card for years, but do they know how to do it themselves? Driving is just around the corner, so this is a skill they should probably learn quickly. They know how to count money. What a great life lesson to have to keep count of your money to make sure you are getting proper change and you have enough to pay for your purchases.

How to set priorities

As I mentioned before, the needs come first, and the wants come next. The priority is the things they must have. If they run out of money to purchase the needs, they will quickly learn the art of returning their wants to pay for their needs.

How to work within boundaries

No one likes rules but they exist for a reason. To survive, we have to learn to operate within the boundaries that are set. Sometimes that means we do exactly what is expected and sometimes we get creative. If the shirt that shows a little skin is your very favorite, then consider buying a coordinating tank top to wear under it so it meets the requirements of the dress code. Find solutions that work!

So you see the beauty here; I am simultaneously reducing my stress and teaching my kids important life lessons. They are old enough to handle this. Will they do it perfectly? No, but with practice, they will get better.

I am not disappearing. It they need help or advice during this adventure, I will be there for them with a smile and a helpful heart. They will find me perched in a comfortable seat in the shopping area, enjoying a latte while reading a great book.

I would like to officially change my stance, I love back-to-school shopping.

About April Salisbury

April Sailsbury is a mother of two teenagers, a son, and a daughter. She has a straight forward and often humorous approach to parenting that sometimes challenges societal norms. She loves reading advice from other parents and then modifies that advice to fit her family and her children. Like most moms, she questions her own parenting decisions daily and prays that she is not raising kids that will need counseling to undo any of the things she has done. She is never afraid to admit and own mistakes. She spends her days soaking up every minute she has with her kids while also finding time to also focus on her marriage.

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