6 Things I’d Rather Be Doing Than School Supply Shopping

Shopping for School Supplies

I hate summer with a fiery passion. It’s hot. I get sweaty. The schedule changes week to week (sometimes day to day). I need to entertain bored and whiney kids while still trying to produce for my job. I have to hound said kids to eat regular meals and get outside instead of playing video games and watching YouTube all day everyday.

But one of the things I hate the most about summer is school supply shopping. I dread this sadistic annual ritual more than most apocalyptic nightmares. The supply list is incredibly long and tedious, and it is filled with the most specific, hard-to-find items. By the time I’m done with the whole ordeal, I’ve dropped a full car payment (or two) at various stores all around town. I feel like it’s a punishment for hating Summer so much and wanting to send my kids back to school so quickly.

Quite simply, it’s the most torturous scavenger hunt known to parents.

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In no particular order, here are six things I’d rather be doing than shopping for school supplies…

1. Getting multiple root canals. The time involved and number of trips to the dentist would still be less than amount of time it takes me to find the elusive 10-pack of washable markers (Classic color only! No pastels!) and 5, 1-inch white binders with transparent sleeves and interior pockets. And the root canals still might be less expensive.

2. Teaching an entire room of preschoolers to tie their shoes. It would be less frustrating than spending all day hunting for supplies only to come home and find your 2-pocket blue folders that you dug through stacks and stacks of folders for (at multiple stores) were supposed to be plastic—not paper.

3. Expressing my dog’s anal glands. The smell would be less offensive than the foul stench of sweat and fear emanating from the tired, worn-down parents who are fighting the same painful battle—most times with cranky children in tow.

4. Giving up bacon for an entire year. The grief would be far less severe than the mourning I do for the clumps of hair I pull out of my head standing in line at the fifth store only to find out they gave away your reserved white Magic Rub pencil erasers—the only school-approved eraser.

5. Getting a full body wax, including my nasal hair. The pain would be less intense than the ear-piercing scream your daughter lets out when she discovers those much-coveted One Direction high-top shoes don’t meet uniform standards.

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6. Giving my husband oral sex daily for an entire month. And swallowing.

I’d come up with more things that I’d rather do than shopping for school supplies, but first I need to decipher the items on the school supply lists (one per child!) and drag my kids with me to at least five different stores to find the exact matches. And then  return the incorrect items I got. And then label each individual crayon. And then…


Who has time/money/patience/stamina for this shit?

Related post: 10 Reasons I’m Not Ready for School to Start

About the writer


Kathryn Leehane (AKA Kelly 'Foxy' Fox) is a mom and a writer living in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and two children. She writes the humor blog, Foxy Wine Pocket, where she shares twisted stories about her life as a mother, wife, friend, and wine-drinker in suburbia. Irreverent, inappropriate, and just plain silly, Kathryn strives to make you spit out your drink with every post. In her down time, she inhales books, bacon, and Pinot Noir, and her interests include over-sharing, Jason Bateman, and crashing high school reunions. You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

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Kristina Walters @ Kris On Fitness 1 year ago

I totally feel your pain! Thanks the good lord that my youngest is a senior this year and their supply list is next to nothing!

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Sarah (est. 1975) 1 year ago

And this is why I ordered all of my school supplies off Amazon. Great piece, lady!

Megan Macdonald 1 year ago

HAHAHAHA! I almost died when I read number 6. Believe it or not as a teacher, I also hate school supply shopping.

Heather Holter 1 year ago

agreed! And i have 5 school aged kids! The horror of it is worse than anything!

Heather Wells 1 year ago

my oldest starts 9th grade this year, when his schedule came in the mail it said each teacher will give the students a list during the first couple days of school…I have had anxiety over this for over a week. ha. I want it now.

Debbie Maydak 1 year ago

Buy immediately before the end of school year at schoolsupplykits.com. They put everything in a box, no shopping,

Suzy Weinberg Snyder 1 year ago

I know what the hell is a 12 inch binder

Ashley 1 year ago

May I express that I didn’t know dogs’ anal glands could be expressed? That sounds absolutely horrific…point taken! I think I just laughed my anal glands off reading this post, btw. Well done!

Stephen Samantha Thomas 1 year ago

Kristine, please don’t take this the wrong way but that was your career choice. Not mine.

And in your haste to shame me for not wanting to buy lots of “community supplies” for the whole class because we wouldn’t be able to afford it, you missed my point about who is truly to question because our tax money should cover anything else our kids “need” for this “free public education.”

Danielle Blough 1 year ago

Lmao!!!! I don’t understand why we can’t just pay the teacher each year. That way he or she can get the exact items.

Kayleigh Pearson 1 year ago

Wow in the UK the school provides everything that is needed!

Jessica Farrell 1 year ago

This is my first time shopping for school supplies (kindergarten!!). I took the general school list to Walmart, and sure enough the very first section had the right items. They must know which brands are popular! But, they did not carry pre-sharpened pencils (I guess I will be busy…) and they only had the new purple elmer’s glue–no White anywhere. Oh well, it’s glue. It was pretty easy and cheap.
However, we didn’t get the teacher’s list until last week…2 weeks before school starts. It only includes a couple more items, and they don’t sound bad. But I do work, and we are going on vacation. So that leaves me exactly one weekend to get it done. Next year, I wish teachers would send their lists a little earlier.

Mandy Traut 1 year ago

Firstly, when did school supplies (and all the particulars) become more important than actual kids’ education! Seems a little absurd to me.

Second, wouldn’t it be easier just buying all this stuff online through Amazon?

Nicole Slaughter 1 year ago

i don’t mind the school supply list as long as it’s for MY child, but when the supply list consists of clorox wipes, kleenex, and hand sanitizer… FORGET IT! use soap and water like i did in school. i will NOT buy those things for the school when i can’t even afford to buy them for my own house.

Tara Keplar Turner 1 year ago

Our school district asks us to pay $20 the first day of school. This is for all school supplies (excluding backpacks and lunchbox), it includes a class t shirt and school t shirt. It’s amazing!! The teachers are able to purchase exactly what they want and I don’t have to supply shop at all. **They do add that an additional $20 may be required later in the year to replenish supplies…However that has never actually happened.

Rosalyn Harris 1 year ago

We don’t have the option to buy supplies, only write a check. And I love it!

Becky Whitton 1 year ago

#6 is the best lmao

Cynthia Lingley-Boudreau 1 year ago

I’m so glad this isn’t me… My kids need to have a backpack, lunch bag, indoor shoes and 2 boxes of Kleenex + a $45 check:)

Pamela Leister Bershas 1 year ago

took me 4 trips because, 1. I only had the basic list to start with, 2. didn’t get my kids’ teachers (and their specific lists) for another 2 weeks, 3. those damn 2-pocket orange plastic folders are impossible to find. I wish my kids’ school had a school supplies kit that you could order at the end of the previous school year, and it would be waiting for them on the first day.

Amanda Taylor 1 year ago

Sounds like I’ll be doing my shopping on amazon. LOL

Christine 1 year ago

That’s a great idea!

Jess Martinez 1 year ago

Why I buy my students’ supplies for them. Bring a dollar the first day of school, I got you covered 😉 and as a science teacher, I resent the “schools can buy supplies for your kid” statement. Most of our budgeted money goes to BIG supplies like microscopes, I don’t have money from the school for pencils. I buy them with my own money and charge the kids.

Shannon 1 year ago

As a parent of 5 school aged kids, in three different schools, I can relate to what the article is about. School shopping is almost as expensive as Christmas anymore. Plus, due to financial difficulties, I was forced to wait until the day they needed to be sent to school for back to school night, and Walmart was out of quite a bit of what I needed, especially pencils. I went to TWO different Walmarts and no pencils, except for the presharpened 8 packs, which cost $2 more than an unsharpened box of 48, and I spent almost $200 total. I wish the schools around here did the prepackaged boxes. I would be in on that in a heartbeat.

Phoenix Fourleaf 1 year ago

How many stores should I go to looking for a “Flair” marker? Is that the same thing as an “expo” marker?

Julie 1 year ago

Ours was fantastic this year. We ordered online and they delivered it to the teacher last night for meet the teacher!

Alexis Tomasovich LaFuria 1 year ago

5 minutes & $7 and my 2nd grader’s list is done. I feel pretty lucky!

Catherine B 1 year ago

I wish I was school supply shopping. Right now we’re unsure of when/if school will even begin now!

Kristine Nugent-Ohls 1 year ago

I just tallied my receipts for the start of the school year. I’ve spent $850 on organization and supplies for my classroom and I will continue spending money each month to replenish supplies.
I know parents don’t like spending the money, but what happens when your kid needs to blow their nose? What about the day they forget their pencil? How about having a teacher who promotes learning through mixed media instead of lecture/drill and kill methods of old?
I understand it is expensive, but I find those who complain the most are the ones who are carrying $300 purses and their kids are going on the best vacations (often during the school year and wanting alternative curriculum for their trip with 1 day notice or asking if being gone for 10 days will affect their grade…).

Samantha Hodge 1 year ago

I spent $115 for two kids, one middle school, one elementary, and that includes one backpack, two lunch boxes, water bottles and a calculator. Coupons, coupons, coupons!

Julie Lovegrove 1 year ago

I haven’t been responsible for a kiddo in school since my 2 grandkiddos graduated over 10 yrs ago. Because I can, I get supply lists, purchase the items and leave it at their old schools. Why? 56 years ago, I was one of those kids who couldn’t afford to purchase ‘all’ the items. I can now. I’ll do it as long as I live.

Megan Arbster 1 year ago

If took us one trip.. 20 minutes. Maybe we are lucky?

Autumn 1 year ago

I would be more than happy to be a “professional” school supply shopper!!!

Nikki Freedberg 1 year ago

Wow. If you don’t buy them, I (your child’s teacher) buy them. With my own money. I get that some people can’t afford it, but that’s not everyone. I get $275 from the school to buy everything I need for an entire year. I think it’s fair to ask you to spend $20. And if I don’t ask for it all up front, I often won’t get it later in the year. So I ask for it all in September and try not to bug you again.

Lindsey Mitchell 1 year ago

I have zero problem helping a teacher supply their classroom to educate my child. I gladly take the time and the cost and through coupons this year bought multiples of every item bc times are tough and I don’t want any child left out.

Shanna Richardson 1 year ago

Around my neck of the woods the lists are extensive.. you buy 10 boxes of crayons, markers, 72 glue sticks ect. It all goes into huge bins on the first day so when it’s time to color, everyone reaches in and just grabs a box of crayons, no matter who brought what. They do this because there are those children who bring nothing as far as supplies ((whether their parents can’t afford it or just don’t care is irrelevant)) so no one is left out, and everyone has what they need. I’m on the fence about this because it’s expensive, but it’s never a kindegartener’s fault that they don’t have supplies so I don’t really mind that I bought some extra crayons….

Karen Orr Segovia 1 year ago

I live in Ohio. It’s South West City Schools. My guy is in 1st grade, but they do this $20 dollar deal until high school. It’s great!

Mayra L. Rigdon 1 year ago

I ordered mine online.

Vanessa Lane 1 year ago

My sister and many friends are teachers. I always ask my kids’ teachers if they have a wish list and purchase items they need.

Kristen Mae of Abandoning Pretense 1 year ago

Thankfully, around here the local target and walmart go to great lengths to organize everything according to the district’s lists. I was in and out in 20 minutes. =) (Sorry, lol)

Mary Ramos 1 year ago

I’m so glad our school said give us $25 each and we will buy the supplies in bulk. Thank you!!

Kristi Donison 1 year ago

After reading how little some people have to buy I’m s little ticked – or schools get good money from our tax dollars abs I still have to supply so much of what’s needed for the day to Day – in addition to what I wrote above my kid also needs (just at the start and then it’ll need replenishing) 4 glue sticks, 24 crayons, 2 packs of baby wipes, 2 boxes of ziploc bags (I bought no name ones … Sorry! ), 12 pack of markets and a bottle of elmers glue … That’s not even including the REQUIRED back pack, extra shoes, lunch kit, non – spill water bottle & an extra set of clothes – ALL of which are required as well. And my kid doesn’t even have access to a fridge or microwave for lunch! !!!

Maria P 1 year ago

I teach. I have asked my students to bring in $30 at the start of the year and I buy everything except back pack, lunch box and sneakers. I think all my parents are pretty happy with this process. Only one said she’d prefer to buy her own.

Lillie Eudy 1 year ago

Our school does itvas a fundraiser. I paid $50 (well 100 for one of his classmates) and a box was waiting for me at teacher meet. Amazing.

Michelle 1 year ago

Oh man…all but expressing the anal glands…holy hell..I’d rather buy the school supplies. Of course that is easier for me because I don’t have to buy them anymore. My baby boy went out and got his own. Yay for being old!

April Kessem 1 year ago

Not if you buy a school-oak

Nicole Van Hoose 1 year ago

I love school supply shopping. I love to color coordinate for every subject. I love picking out the perfect pens that write so well. I love a freshly cracked composition notebook. I just get it done early, because I do not love the crowds the week before school starts or searching through all of the picked through left-overs.

Amanda 1 year ago

http://www.1stdayschoolsupplies.com/ This website is used by our PTA to facilitate school supply delivery to the classroom annually. Teachers create grade level packages. Parents opt-in, go on-line, pay for their children’s grade package. They magically deliver for the first day. I now only deal with the backpack, the empty backpack! Yeah!

Lien Yee 1 year ago

Why does the school thinks that my kid will use 18 sharpies, 12 pack of post it, 36 pencils and 6 expo markers ?

Karen LM 1 year ago

Amazon. Seriously. And the major office supply stores have online ordering too.

Sue King 1 year ago

Why? Walmart has the lists at the door..and supplies right there..easy peasy..

Chrissy Basile DiCicco 1 year ago

I love school supply shopping and have been repeating the mantra “you don’t need school supplies” over and over for weeks! There’s nothing like a brand new box of pointy crayola crayons for 25 cents!

Deirbhille McClure Milloy 1 year ago

Single mom/one income/ three amazing children: I really don’t mind spending any amount on my kids for supplies. I see the value in them feeling organized and ready for what ever the teachers feel will help them most. I buy extra supplies and encourage my kids to share. I buy supplies for kids who’s parents can’t afford it and they confide in my child. I contribute to wish list, treasure chests and what ever else. This is my kids education and it’s worth every penny!

Trish Gessner St Michel 1 year ago

I found one yellowish folder at Walmart and would’ve sent my 2nd grade girl with a yellow Camero folder, but it had prongs. #£~^}@/. Pure chance, I saw them at the grocery store for 19 cents. I bought 2, plus replacements for the already purchased required red, green and blue, since by October they will resemble a dinosaur’s teething toy.

Emma Jenkins 1 year ago

Is it me or have I never heard of this school supply stuff. I have only been out of school for 3 years and we never had to buy our own stuff. We were supplied folders for every class and you might have to eventually buy your own pencils because those things are easily lost. I also went to a public school!

Brandy Lopez Barbee 1 year ago

Oh, and don’t think those supplies last 9 months- these rascals lose pencils and break them and sharpen them down to nubs, lose and break crayons, can’t find their 4th homework folder etc; kids lose jackets and lunch boxes….. Imagine what they do to their supplies!! Lol

Sara Petrick 1 year ago

My son is a lefty…school supply shopping is torture! No one has scissors, notebooks, or pencil sharpeners for lefties. (Unless I pay 5x as much to order from Lefty’s)

Valerie Pajak 1 year ago

tru dat. My daughter’s school offers a “pre-made kit” to purchase. $55, and all school supplies are provided. Saves money (and time) not having to drive around from store to store looking for the stuff.

Nancy Dahl Rolison 1 year ago

I’m so thankful my schools offer premade kits delivered on the first day of school. I bought supplies for one child just one year and I never want to do it again.

Victoria Bellavance 1 year ago

And is the school really that high need? Now thats SCARY.

Brandy Lopez Barbee 1 year ago

You know what, if you don’t buy it, I will. As a teacher I spend tons of my own money. I’d rather not spend it on pencils however and buy things that will make learning more exciting and give the kids hands on activities like extras for art, science experiments etc. but if you don’t want to share, no worries- I got it.

Melissa Karl 1 year ago


Marta Milea 1 year ago

This is why I order the supply box from the school. It has everything that is on that list. Definitely worth the 35-40 bucks. I didn’t even look at the supply list this year, maybe I should double check that the box has everything…

Traci Dunn Martin 1 year ago

Our school lets us pre-order school supplies. They are all boxed up on their desks at meet the teacher night. I’m sure I could save a few bucks by doing the shopping myself, but totally worth paying for the convenience!

Stephen Samantha Thomas 1 year ago

It might not be so bad if you didn’t have to buy for the whole darn class/grade AND your own kid. Socialist dispersal of school supplies, yep, start ’em young…

Melissa Haddix Bamberger 1 year ago

Our PTO offers a service so you can order supplies at the end of the school year and pick them up on paperwork day just prior to start of school. Costs less than than shopping on your own. We spent $80 for a 1st and 2nd grader. Oh, and I can so relate to the folder ordeal lol. Looked all over for yellow plastic folders!

Jennifer Voth Whittier 1 year ago

Love the post. Yet, parents complain & complain about spending $50 on supplies but don’t blink when buying $500 Xboxes or $200 iPads for their kids to make their lives simpler at home….

Mariah Hubbard 1 year ago

I spent 300 for 3 kids and was told to send all supplies for class to share. I know we are supplying the teachers and in my two youngest kids classrooms we are supplying the kids of the lazy parents as well. I refuse to send all the supplies at once because they take them up and redistribute them as they see fit. We also had to pay the school for supplies in addition to the list. I paid $15 dollars for 2 plastic folders that cost 50cents.

Dana Conners Dalton 1 year ago

I’ve learned over the years to avoid Target and go to Staples instead. Much easier there. A more “peaceful” shopping experience and you can find everything in stock.

Catie Macdonald-Mudge 1 year ago

I bet you if she brought #6 to her husband her problems would be over

Annamaria-Guarneri Mckean 1 year ago

$80 this year for the school list not including teacher list and wish list. They are worth every penny

Heather Grande 1 year ago

This is why I love Amazon Prime lol

Amy Grace Ettawageshik 1 year ago

I did it all online this year and had the kids sort them out and bag them with me. Saves a ton of time and energy, with 4 school aged kids. I will never do it any other way again!

Stephanie Meyer James 1 year ago

I’m ok with school supply lists to a point…do we really need 25 glue sticks at the start?? Do they eat them as snacks? I know my 4th grader cut things out and glued it all in a composition book last year…maybe we could not cut the pages, three hole punch them, and place them in the (also required) binder? Also, I hate the specificity…if you want some pocket folders, great! But when you tell me it must be a “Mead Five Star, plastic, two pocket folder (non-pronged) in red, blue, and yellow, well, that makes me want to scream. :)

Sarah Fritz-Maldonado 1 year ago

I was done until back to school night when they added more & changed one of his classes smh

Kristi Donison 1 year ago

My son’s kindergarten list is a page long with a note at the bottom advising us parents that ‘these supplies will need replenishing throughout the year’ … ugh! These supplies include things like 2 boxes of kleenex & a box of spoons … And all the kindergarten kids share these!

Teresa Maass 1 year ago

Just finished appointment Nr 2 of the root canal, the actual root canal and I am positive that I would rather get school supplies…..

Karen Orr Segovia 1 year ago

Haha. This is hilarious!! It makes me so grateful that I don’t have to do any of this jazz. We just write a $20 check to the district and all of the supplies are provided! At least until high school when they start taking electives, but that’s a good 8 years away for me.

Tricia 1 year ago

Wow, it isn’t THAT bad! I’d rather go school shopping every day than give my husband oral sex once a year, LOL. Does your school have a service where they do all the shopping and ship it to you? It’s awesome. Definitely worth the extra ten dollars or so. (This is the one we used to have, unfortunately my son’s new school doesn’t use it. http://www.schoolpak.com)

Jamie Lemery 1 year ago

I spent $125 for 3 kids…

Jessica Collins 1 year ago

Please, school supplies aren’t that hard to find.

Samara Salvione 1 year ago

Done for weeks…all online. So much less stress

Erin Ricciardi 1 year ago

I refuse to buy a ton of stuff before school starts. I buy my oldest son the basics, a couple notebooks and a pack of pencils, to start with. I tell him to find out what else he’ll need during those first couple days, and then we get that stuff. I used to buy the works, but he ended up not using half of it.

Ainsley Beane 1 year ago

our school just sends us an invoice, we pay it & then pick up the stationery pack from school later & take it home to cover & name everything. I whinge about not being given a list & being able to shop around, lol

Danielle Dapp 1 year ago

I am obsessed with school supplies. I love them. Lucky for me, we home school so I get to buy them all the time. :)

Jane A. E. Wyborn 1 year ago

I am a huge stationary officianado – this is the part of my kids going to school that I am most looking forwar to!


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