Back to school edition: Happy they are gone? Would you rather start early or late? How much on school supplies?

I always have very mixed emotions on the first day of school. I am sad that my special time with the kids is over and it is back to the grind. But I am also a little bit relieved to be able to pick up the house, buy groceries and get organized with only one child in tow instead of three. Plus, there is some comfort in getting back into a routine.

I do feel joyful because the start of school means that all of the moms (and dads) will be back from vacation and back on the blog.

So I have a cavalcade of back-to-school questions for you today. Starting with:

Are you excited or sad that your kids are back at school?

Would you describe yourself as:


Bummed because it’s too busy

Sad because summer was too short and you will miss them.

How do you feel about summer being over and school starting yet again?

Would your family rather start school early or late?

The year Rose started kindergarten our school switched to a later schedule with school starting at 8:50 a.m. At the time I was relieved because we are so terrible at going to bed early and getting up early. However, starting that late meant they didn’t get off the bus until around 4. I did get that time closer to 3:30 by walking to get them but it didn’t give the kids much time to relax, do an activity or play, do homework, eat dinner, and get ready for bed.

Our favorite fill-in host Keith has always been on the earlier schedule in her county. Her kids were at the bus stop before 7 but were home around 2ish. They seemed to have more time to play and do activities.

So which is better for your sanity, for after-school activities, for your family’s free time, and for you as parents to have alone time? (We never seem to be alone!!!)

How much did you spend on school supplies (including back packs or lunch boxes) this year?

Also where did you buy them – Target/Wal-Mart or office-supply type stores? I spent $200 this year on two kids – which included one backpack and one lunch box. I split mine between Target and an office supply store for the stuff I couldn’t find at Target. But that seems really high especially in this economy!

66 comments Add your comment


August 9th, 2010
11:52 am

@DB one more thing, you were lucky you had a choice of 3 places to get uniforms. Son’s school switched to a company based in Florida last year and we’re only “allowed” to buy from them. I’ve been getting around this for the most part through hand-me-downs and the uniform ‘resale’ that the school has at the end of the year. I ended up having to buy him a new pair of chapel slacks this summer though and when he tried them on they were the wrong size (they did an onsite sale at his school the week he was away at summer camp). To send them back and exchange would have cost me nearly half the cost of the pants in shipping alone. I ended up going back to our ‘old’ local place last week and picked up a new pair. Hopefully they don’t start looking for logos or at the brand!

And I’ve learned the reason why schools have an exclusive uniform supplier – the school gets a kickback from the uniform company much like school photographers.


August 9th, 2010
11:54 am

Homeschooling here so we’re starting later. I want all of to have a good break before we get back into the swing of it. :) I think we’re all beginning to get excited about it starting back though.


August 9th, 2010
12:00 pm

@TechMom: As I told my kids, “You have a great scholarship. Don’t screw it up, or we’ll have to sell the car we gave you to pay for your expenses!” The cars were used, but the threat is palpable . . . :-)


August 9th, 2010
12:09 pm

@TechMom: Of a certainty, there is definitely renumeration going on in the uniform business! What a racket! We had an off-site school store that had somewhat nicer quality clothes that did seem to last a little longer than the other uniform store outlets, but you paid accordingly. *sigh* Blazers were the biggie for us — but thankfully there were lots of blazers in the uniform resale stores that made the cost reasonable. Having only one supplier out of Florida is just tacky, IMHO . . . is the owner a relative of the principal, or what?! :-) Good grief, khaki pants are khaki pants, a polo shirt is just a polo shirt.


August 9th, 2010
12:15 pm

@DB I’ve wondered the same thing. We got a new school president last year and he made the decision to switch us to the company he has used for his previous school. Sounds fishy to me.

And I’ve already started telling my son that he has to get & keep HOPE/scholarships through college because we’ve already spent his ’savings’ on his current tuition. We’ll certainly help him how we can with living expenses but if he has the means to earn his way through, then he should and if he loses HOPE for example, that he will have to figure out how to pay for college (i.e. job or loans). I feel like we’re giving him the tools now to be able to succeed in school and at that point it will be up to him.


August 9th, 2010
12:37 pm

I’m neither happy nor sad about my son going back to school. As a working mother, there is no benefit to me as far as time, since I don’t get summers off. He is either at school or day care! In fact, I have less time now than I did over the summer, because now we have homework, soccer, and piano lessons! I think I spent around $100 on supplies including the backpack, lunch box, and water bottle. Back to school just isn’t a huge deal in our house. It’s just like any other day. We get up, get ready for work and drive him to school!


August 9th, 2010
1:06 pm

@b, ordering used books on Amazon sounds like a great idea!

@Techmom I have same situation with the uniforms. The school has contracted with one company and that is the only place we are allowed to purchase uniforms. The uniforms are almost $50 each. I ordered 2 for now and will get her a couple more in a month or two.


August 9th, 2010
1:29 pm

@Cammi317: I usually ended up ordering ALL the kid’s books in high school on-line, through eBay, Amazon,, etc., etc. Once I had the ISBN number, I was off to the races – one year I saved almost $400! Unfortunately, my daughter’s major in college doesn’t really lend itself to Clegg (phooey). And, happily, my son’s book order this semester was only $140.00 — 14 books, all paperback, all used!! eBay is also good for an extra set of “stay at home” textbooks (especially heavy ones like science and math) — one of my friends always got extra copies to keep at home so that their kids didn’t have to lug a 30 lb. bookback back and forth each day, and to avoid the “I forgot my book” homework excuse. Then she’d sell ‘em the next year to a friend in the class behind her.

It’s the little things . . .:-)


August 9th, 2010
1:31 pm

DB you had to BUY high school books? Is that for private school? I’ve never bought any books for my daughter until she hit college..


August 9th, 2010
1:43 pm

@JJ: Yes, it was private. Let’s just say it was good preparation for college — for both parents and kids! :-D


August 9th, 2010
4:05 pm

@ Cammi

Over $150K in tuition alone for 14 years of private schooling for 2 kids. And not done yet. Paying tuition is like swimming in cold water… You just get used to it after a while. But the payoff for your kid is worth it.


August 9th, 2010
7:32 pm

JJ: in the old days, students had to buy their books in public school (kept the riffraff out, I guess). I still have a few. You had to go to special state-certified stores. My first grade primer was $1.25, I think. I am speaking of my experiences in FL and AL.


August 9th, 2010
9:33 pm

Didn’t get to see mine off since they get on the bus about the time that I’m welcoming my group into the classroom. I didn’t spend a huge amount on supplies. It’s all about scouring the ads and buying stuff on sale. (Of course, I’m practically supplying my entire class too, but that’s a whole other point. I had kids show up with EMPTY backpacks. I realize times are hard, but we pared our list down to practically just notebooks and pencils. Yet, some parents couldn’t even be bothered to spend a couple of quarters for notebooks.) My oldest’s backpack will end up costing me nothing when I get my rebate from Staples. Crayons, pencils, glue, and notebooks for a quarter each. I even bought some stuff at Publix when it was on sale. I’ll go anywhere for cheap school supplies.

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August 10th, 2010
8:58 am

@Jan: I’m mentally adding up 13 years each of private school for two kids, and I think $150K is on the light side by the time you finish — heck, high school alone was $60K each, not including extras . . . it was a struggle, especially some years, On the flip side, considering the costs where my son ended up at college with scholarships and grants, he made it back in three semesters what we spent for four years in high school. It doesn’t even out, by any means, but we decided that the intangible costs were worth it to our family in the long run — education is more than a numbers game.

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