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What to wear is major back-to-school issue

By Staff
Michelle Blaylock, Mom's Corner
It's hard to believe this summer's over! It's gone by so quickly, at least for me. Now it's time to get ready to go back to school. There are so many things that need to be done so where do I start? With a list, of course!
Remember I'm the queen of lists. My list includes things like sorting and organizing clothes, getting school supplies, getting everyone back on school schedule, preparing lunch lists, etc.
To add to the confusion of this whole process my hubby won't be here in the mornings anymore. He accepted a new position in Elkmont and will have to leave for work long before the rest of us are ready to walk out the door! (Lucky him–I think he planned it this way.)
Anyway, back to getting ready for school. One of this family's biggest challenges is clothing. I've always tried to make an effort to have the kids lay out their clothes for the next morning the night before. I would prefer for the kids to lay out their clothes for the entire week, but unfortunately that doesn't work for some of my kids. I have one child who has sensory issues and has a lot of trouble with her clothes "feeling right."
I've had people tell me I should just lie out their clothes and make them wear whatever I pick out. I find there are several problems with that idea. First of all the kids won't learn how to pick out their clothes and I don't plan on doing this for the rest of my life! Secondly, they don't learn responsibility. As I've said before, I believe good parents work themselves out of a job and I'm trying desperately to work toward retirement. Thirdly, I wouldn't want to wear clothes I didn't like or didn't feel good on me. Why would I make my kids do it? Therefore, I have the kids pick out their own clothes. My sensory issue kid often needs to wear the same clothes frequently, but this just helps me keep up on laundry.
For my kids who don't have sensory issues but just can't remember what are acceptable school clothes and what aren't, we have a color coding system. For example, clothes on the white hangers are for school, clothes on the green hangers are for work or play and the red hangers are for church or other dress-up occasions. This does help prevent most of the arguments.
This year I went through the kids' clothes and weeded out anything they didn't like or wear. After I knew what we had, I caught a sale and took the kids shopping.
FYI, taking five kids shopping at the same time is stupid. Yes, I had that stupid moment. What was I thinking?
We survived, but it wasn't the most pleasant experience of my parenthood. I think we are now ready to start school–in the clothing department anyway. Thank goodness.
We have been working on the school supply lists. I mean "working" on the school supply lists. Since we have five kids in school, school supplies can get very expensive for us. I look for sales over the summer and pick up things I know we'll need.
Also, at the beginning of the year when there is a multitude of school supplies on sale, I try to buy extras and put them away because around Christmas most kids need replacements for many of their supplies. This is more convenient and usually cheaper than trying to get the supplies at Christmas.
I also buy some school supplies in bulk through school supply catalogs. However, I have found I must be very careful when doing this and price the supplies carefully. Often times, even though it seems like a good deal, once you add in shipping it may be costing you more than just catching a sale at a discount store.
If you're going to buy in bulk, make sure you have somewhere to store the extra supplies. It's incredibly inconvenient to get supplies and then have them sitting around in the way.
Our next task is to get everyone back on school schedule. For our family, that's not as difficult as it may sound. Most of my kids tend to stay close to a school schedule because of swim team.
However, the school routine of getting things ready the night before, getting up and immediately kicking into high gear does take a little more adjustment. I work into it gradually over the course of several days so the first few days of school aren't quite so traumatic.
We also have to get into the swing of preparing lunches. Yes, I know the school prepares a hot lunch for $1.75 a day and that isn't a lot until, you multiply it by my five kids. Here's the math: $1.75 a day multiplied by five kids equals $8.75 a day, multiplied by five days a week equals $43.75 a week.
I can buy a lot of lunch supplies for $43.75 a week! Obviously, we're not talking Lunchables here. In our family, Lunchables are reserved for school field trips only. However, there are a lot of other things that can go into a lunchbox. I'll share those ideas with you next week.
This year we also had to get some new lunchboxes. The ones we had were about three-five years old and were just worn out. Usually we try to pick out gender neutral lunchboxes. This way I don't have worry about accidentally handing my 13-year-old son a Lisa Frank Unicorn lunchbox. He would kill me! The other thing we look for in a lunchbox is it to be big enough to hold things like a thermos and insulated enough to keep the cold stuff cold.
We do use coolie packs, but we had a problem of losing our coolie packs, too. Hubby and I began to put kids' names on them so if one came up missing then that child had to replace it. We don't loose coolie packs too often now.
The kids are also responsible for cleaning out their lunchboxes when they get home. If they don't, then they loose a privilege for the next day or have to do an extra chore.
For the most part, the Blaylock Family has had a good summer. I just wish we weren't starting back to school so early. It really does feel like our summer has been cut off too short. Amazingly, as my daddy would say, I don't believe anyone asked your opinion. Well, rats!
I hope you've had a great summer and keep sending me those questions, hints, and tips. The addresses are: Mom's Corner, P.O. Box 1496; Hartselle, AL 35640 or e-mail: moms-corner@juno.com.

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