My kids head back to school after the long weekend, and back-to-school preparations are one of my favourite things. When my daughter first started school, that involved going out and purchasing a whole wack of new clothes and school supplies. Back to school has changed significantly for me since that time, with more of a focus on sustainable shopping rather than flashy and new.
Functionally, that has been an easy change for our family; I buy pieces of clothing that will last longer and do the work of maintaining them, buy colours and styles that are more gender-neutral so that I can hand them down from my daughter to my son and simply buy less.
Emotionally though, that transition has been more of a challenge for me. A part of me still wants to go out and buy my kids everything new, the super cute and trending clothes and exactly what they want. That's because I was a kid once and know the feeling of wanting to fit in. I vowed that when I had kids, I would buy everything new for back-to-school and exactly what they wanted. But there are literally heaps of discarded clothes accumulating around the world because of this way of thinking.
I regularly remind myself that the desire for material things is deeply ingrained (I am an eighties child), but it isn't the most important thing. That although I am not giving my kids a new wardrobe for back to school, I am teaching them other valuable lessons:
- The impact of the things they buy.
- The work small businesses and local companies do produce ethical and sustainable products.
- The joy in valuing material objects and not seeing them as disposable.
- Their ability to create their own style rather than being influenced by trends.
- The ability to think critically about marketing and fast fashion.
It's not always an easy road, especially with a pre-teen and nine-year-old who's super hard on his clothes (like slides into rooms rather than walking into rooms hard), but I hope the thing I can give them is a different perspective. These days, I start my back-to-school shopping with an inventory of what my kids already have, a couple of hours of mending and fixing up pieces that need attention, and a very, very short shopping list.
Check out the #itsalljustfyne on Instagram for tips on taking an inventory and back-to-school shopping.