Back to School Shopping, Then and Now

I recently heard a comedian say that the idea of summer vacation spoils our thinking forever.  It’s true – as an adult, you are always disappointed in the idea you have to work during summer, even though it was such a small part of your life when you didn’t.


And then there is the idea of back-to-school shopping.  Isn’t there is still a tiny part of us that longs for fresh office supplies (and of course clothes!) when fall rolls around?  Even before COVID, this was looking different to my kids as compared to my childhood.  School supplies were somehow more expensive, but because of the community aspect.  We parents are supposed to provide the school’s janitorial supplies now and the crayons are shared.  No pride of keeping your box of markers pristine while others lose theirs by Week 3.


Maybe the tiny bit of good COVID news is that maybe back-to-school shopping will be cheaper.  Possibly non-existent.  Here are 3 examples from my childhood and the COVID counterparts.


The Trapper Keeper

How I loved looking for the right color or design each fall.  The promises I made myself about how THIS is the year I would stay organized.  Plus, the stickers!  I couldn’t wait to personalize with those scratch-n-sniffs.

COVID counterpart – Keep those folders organized in Google Docs on your Chromebook.  Hey, at least you can put stickers on the Chromebook case.


Art Supplies

Ah, the satisfaction of cracking open a new box of crayons.  The clean watercolor paint palette before you turned all the colors to the same muddy shade with water overflow.  Hauling in old magazines to make collages showing your creativity.

COVID Counterpart – Hmmmm, remote art class.  Maybe digital photography downloaded to a slide show?  Graphic design could be cool for kids to learn.  At least their clothes will stay clean.


Speaking of, CLOTHES!

Remember the fantasy of reinventing your fashion self for the new year? Even on a limited budget, the temptation to show off your new, more sophisticated style was always exciting.

COVID counterpart – Nice clothes for the upper body?  Statement necklaces? A variety of fashion face masks?  The good news is that teenagers won’t have to worry so much about acne.  Sure, the face masks will probably make it worse, but who can see it?  Also, parents will save a fortune on shoes.


Think about what your kids will really need or not during this new season of (likely) remote learning.  And take the savings to put away for college tuition!

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