School supply shopping is always a major deal at our house. In the past, a friend and I have loaded in the car and drove an hour to the closest Walmart where we diligently followed the teacher’s supply list to the letter.

But this year was different.

Over the summer, we moved to a different house. As I was packing, I realized we had an overabundance of never-used glue sticks and pencils sitting around from past years. After all, when you buy school supplies, the packages always seem to come with a few more glue sticks or pencils than you could ever use in one school year. Over time, our leftovers had stacked up.

So instead of going to the store this year when my kids needed school supplies, we went to our cupboards first. We laid out all the supplies we already had and my boys were able to pick and choose which pencil toppers, glue sticks and pens they wanted.

My youngest was pretty excited to see some old familiar favorites like his highlighter from last year. He hardly used it, so it was still as good as new. Or that awesome eraser with wheels.

To my surprise, in the end, it was actually fun for him to re-use some of his old school supplies. As his mom, I was happy he didn’t feel like he needed new, shiny things to be successful this school year.

We will still have to buy new notebooks and folders, but only because the teacher requested specific colors. If she hadn’t, we could have re-used notebooks from past years, too, because they never seem to go through a whole notebook in one school year.

Of course, through this all, the perfectionist, OCD part of my brain did spend a little time shouting at me about the joys of crisp, new school supplies. The fresh start and excitement of it all. But that’s when seeing my son’s joy at some of the old, familiar supplies made it easier.

And luckily the newly budding minimalist part of my brain agreed, very logically pointing out that we should use what we have and not buy things we don’t need. The best part is, there’s still time before school starts to donate the leftover supplies my boys don’t need to a local charity, so other kids can benefit from them just like my kids will.


Jenni DeWitt is married and has two sons, the youngest of whom battled childhood leukemia — and won. Jenni writes weekly for She is the author of “Forty Days” and “Why Won’t God Talk to Me?” You can read more about Jenni here.

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