back-to-school__1439346611_174.1.17.29.jpgI have loved our early summer weather we were blessed with here on the West Coast. It has made our summer feel longer, and while my kids and I have been enjoying ourselves, it’s time to start back to school shopping before everyone’s beat me to it and there’s nothing left to buy.

Last year was the first year I finally organized myself and didn’t leave back to school shopping until the week before school started. It was a relief to not have to do that last minute shopping, and my kids and I were able to enjoy the last few days of freedom doing fun activities.

There’s almost a 5 year age gap between my boys. Now that they are 10 and 15 years old, I really notice a difference in

their back to school needs. It is definitely easier to shop for high school essentials, since the guidelines for essentials are much more flexible.

My youngest is starting Grade 5 so of course I still have to follow along with the school’s supply list for the basics. However, he still gets to have some fun picking out his own backpack, lunch kit and clothes.

My oldest is going into Grade 10 which makes me so proud and sad at the same time. It blows my mind how time has flown. It’s also the reality that if my kids are growing up so fast, then that means I’m getting older too, which let’s face it, no one wants to acknowledge. I still feel like I’m in my twenties on the inside but then my youngest reminds me that I’m getting old. So much for being the young cool parents; kids can be so charming sometimes.

This year I’m throwing a wrench into our schedules and I’ll be heading back to school with my kids too, and that’s exciting and a little scary at the same time. It’s funny how something like going back to school can make you question your confidence as an adult. It’s been more than a few years since I’ve attended any type of school so I guess I’ll be needing to do some back to school shopping too which I’m looking forward too.

Of course there are a lot of essentials needed throughout the school year and since there are some really cool products available now, you have more options when choosing them. This year momma gets to shop with the boys too.

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When I think of back to school essential accessories I think paper, pencils, duo tangs, crayola products and calculators. Many schools offer school supply packs that include all the necessities for the year, but I find I have so many leftovers at the end of the year that I’m just throwing money away ordering them.

Over the years I have grown quite a collection of pencil boxes, stacks of paper and duo tangs, so last year my boys and I just started shopping for what was missing from our supply list. Luckily my youngest loves picking out his own school supplies which makes the shopping less stressful. Since orange is his all time favourite colour, he chooses everything he can that’s orange. It’s also a great way for him to personalize his own pencil box that way.

Last year he discovered that mechanical pencils are cool. After losing a few expensive ones, we found these Paper Mate Blister Mechanical Pencils were the best bang for your buck. I also started labeling them with my label maker so there’s no reason for him to lose them to class mates.

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When my oldest son first transitioned into high school for grade 8, he had a hard time with the whole idea of changing classes throughout the day and going to your locker in between. To ease the unnecessary stress, we had to figure out a system that worked best for him.

I think the big transition is hard on a lot of kids, I can remember how lost I felt going to high school ( it didn’t help that I’m only 5 feet tall), but the key for my son having a successful year was finding what worked best for him. We found he loves having one large binder for each day with all his necessities inside. The ones that zip closed like this MeadWestvaco Microfibre 1″ Zipper Binder work the best since they also have pockets so he can keep his pencils and such inside too.

This year I’ll get to join my boys in shopping for binders, pencils and pens. I’m sure my youngest will be rolling his eyes at all the pinks and purples I choose.

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The last time I went to school myself, the only  thing remotely close to tech we needed was a calculator, but these days a computer is a necessity for kids, either in class or for homework use.

My youngest doesn’t need much for grade 5 besides a calculator and a USB for in school use, but he does use a laptop regularly for homework at home. His writing is a little on the messy side, so being able to type out his homework has proven to be helpful. We use an HP laptop that we have loved for the last couple years. It has held up really well considering how quickly technology changes.

Last year my oldest son saved up and actually built his own PC which he is quite proud of. He loved being able to customize it with the PC parts that would work best for what he wanted. He is a gamer at heart, but also wants to continue his studies in University to work in technology, so building his own computer was a great experience for him. With three of us in school this year, it will be nice to have more than one computer in the house.

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When my oldest went to high school he also got his first cell phone. Since he was changing schools and we were doing some carpooling with a friend, I wanted to make sure he could get a hold of me, and me him, in case of emergency. He loves his Samsung Galaxy and he’s been excited to get the new 6 Edge for back to school this year. The review from TeddyK had him start saving up for it.

I love that the camera has great reviews since to make his day easier, he actually just snaps a picture of the homework board in each class. That way there’s no”I forgot what’s for homework” and he has no excuse as to why his homework isn’t completed. Most cell phone providers have plans aimed for students that includes unlimited text messaging which seems to be the main form of communication between teenagers these days. I also don’t want the surpise bill from too much data usage, so he only uses it when there’s free wifi available. I think most high schools have wifi available to the students, and my thought is in class he should be working not googling anyway.

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Besides supplies needed for in class you also need backpacks and lunch kits. My youngest loves choosing a new backpack each year depending on what his current interest is. Last years it was Plants vs Zombies. This year I have a feeling it will be supehero themed, and of course having a matching lunch kit is a must. If you’re not sure what backpack would work best for the student in your life out, check out my Plugin blog colleague Lucy Woodhead’s tips on what to look for in a student backpack.

My oldest child needs a large backpack with multiple pockets for his binders, gym strip and lunch. We’ve been fans of the Swiss Gear brand for years: they are durable, come with a years warranty, and have all the extras you should need like pockets for your phone, house keys and water bottle. Seeing that he’s a growing teenage boy, I had to find the largest lunch kit that would also fit in his backpack. In fact, last year he came home one day asking how much food did I think I could fit in his lunch kit. Poor kid was coming home starving at the end of the day.

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As for myself I’m eyeing up this Roxy Always Core 12L Day Backpack. It’s bright and pretty and I think it will put a smile on my face each morning when I leave for classes.

Back to school shopping can be stressful and boring if you let it, but I find if I include my kids and let them do a lot of the choosing it’s not such a chore. This year my plan is to do a lot of the shopping online, you can get everything you need at once and in the confort of your own home. My youngest got to order his birthday present online this year and he’s discovered how fun online shopping can be which makes me laugh and scares me both. I love that most stores also offer free shipping.

At bestbuy.ca you can do some great one stop shopping for all your back to school needs.

Title image: dailygenius.com