Sharon DeVellis: Inside Scoop


How I Calmed Back-To-School Shopping Chaos This Year

It's Not Always About The Destination, We Also Need To Enjoy The Trip

How I Calmed Back-To-School Shopping Chaos This Year

Like most kids, mine hate running errands. Case in point: This is a note my son wrote in his journal about running errands with me for our RV vacation.

And who can blame him? I'm an adult and I think errands suck, so why wouldn't a kid? When I was offered a Dodge Grand Caravan for a week so I could do all my back-to-school errands I jumped at the chance. Basically, I was all,dual DVD player! Score!”

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that back-to-school is the most stressful time of year for moms, even more so than Christmas. At least Christmas has an end. Back-to-school starts with the pre-school shopping and organizing in August and continues on with forms, homework, the never-ending making of lunches, snacks, and rushed dinners until the end of June. Also, let us not forget this is the time of year when, for many of us, our kids start seasonal activities and sports. Even more stuff to do! GREAT!

*read that last line in a sarcastic tone*

If my boys were writing this review they will tell you that the Grand Caravan was “THE BEST VAN EVER!” and that they have bugged me at least once every three days for me to “Please, please, please buy one” ever since we returned it. I squeezed in as much as I could because (a) I liked driving it and (b) knew I needed to do everything in a limited amount of time so why not get it all done in a van where I could listen to satellite radio.

We shopped for school supplies:

And lunch supplies:

Not going to lie, life is a little bit sweeter when you are traipsing from store to store and your kids are in the back laughing hysterically at Mr. Bean on the DVD player and able to adjust their own air-conditioning while you're in the front listening to Howard Stern not having to worry they will hear an inappropriate word.

We did a ton of other things too which I'll get to in a second. But first:

Back-to-school/school year is stressful. We need to acknowledge this and not try to pretend it's not. People who know me often ask me how I’m so relaxed like I have some little secret I’m hiding. It’s not that I’m not busy. With sports starting up for my boys it means they will be shuttled around five days a week. Three times a week taking my older son to speed skating and twice taking my younger son to hockey. That is ten times a week right there alone. Then I have work and the rest of the stuff we all have: homework, forms, lunches, dinners, laundry, and just every day life. It's definitely busy but I do manage to stay relaxed most of the time and you can too.

Here’s my not-so-secret secret:

You need to inter-mix the drudgery of chores, errands, and shuttling with fun. Not only for your kids, but for you.

Sure, we used our van to get our back-to-school errands done. But we also used it to pick up my son’s best friend for an impromptu sleepover, a quick trip to the park to let them burn off energy, and to go out for a special lunch at their favourite restaurant.

And after one day where we managed to get groceries, buy new shoes (indoor and outdoor for school—don’t get me started!), and every single school supply they needed *shakes fist at specific colour requests for duotangs!* we lowered the back row of seats, packed chairs, sleeping bags, and snacks and took the boys and a friend to the drive-in.

So the next time you’re caught up in the “have to get them to activities, need to pick up groceries, we’re running late” stress, that's the perfect time to stop for a second, take a deep breath and then maybe even surprise your kids with an ice cream.

Because it’s not always about the destination, we also need to enjoy the trip.

Thanks Dodge Grand Caravan for allowing me to enjoy the trip with my kids.

Back to school chaos, car pool etiquette, what to love about minivans...
Find these stories and more on YMC's ‘Tales From the Minivan’ page.