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Disclosure: This back-to-school post was sponsored by Target but my love of all things Target are all my own.

Today, I got the email that our school supply list is ready and waiting. How can it be that it’s almost time for back-to-school already? It’s already time to hit Target with my school supply list in hand and start my annual “crazed mom on a mission” scavenger hunt for just the right supplies.

As a child, back-to-school was a favorite time of year for me. I loved the smell of new folders; the chance to shine my personality through with a new Unicorn Trapper Keeper and, of course, back-to-school clothes shopping was my favorite thing to do.

But as a parent, it’s a little different. Every August, I know it’s time to let go just a little bit more. With each passing new beginning, I am painfully aware that I have one less school year with my child. I’m sad about the letting go but so proud of their achievements so I try to make every back-to-school special.

My daughters see things completely different, they are ecstatic about the chance to see their friends again and, even though they won’t admit it, we all look forward to the return of our routine. The new school year is also a chance to reinvent themselves, as far as style and personality are concerned. There’s just one small problem – my girls wear uniforms. But we never let something like school uniform restrictions stop us from letting our personality shine through.

My girls have to wear school-mandated pants, shorts, polos and skirts or jumpers. There is no wiggle room here. This is an absolute. Even a rogue button or pocket is a violation of dress code and can warrant disciplinary actions, so we stay within the uniform guidelines but when it comes to socks, shoes, belts, jewelry, hair baubles, coats and school supplies, that is where the girls can pick what they want. My girls live for shopping for these pieces.

Lucky for us, Target sells uniform pieces and when it comes to accessorizing and dressing up lockers and school supplies, they’ve got that covered too. Talk about one-stop shopping.

While my oldest is excited about shopping for socks, shoes, belts, jewelry, hair baubles and coats to let her real style shine through. She also can’t wait to find the perfect outfit for the first dress down day of the year because it lets everyone know what her “real” style is and when you wear uniforms every day of the year, this is a really big deal.

My youngest, however, is really excited about the Frozen licensed products available this year. Target has Frozen pencils, composition books, notebooks, folders, backpacks and lunch bags. They also have a great selection of Star Wars, Avengers and Minions products for this year’s back-to-school. If you have to buy school supplies anyways, why not get your favorite characters to make it a little more fun?

A few friendly tips that have helped my family get through back-to-school shopping and actually enjoy it:

Start shopping as soon as the school supply list becomes available if you don’t want to end up frustrated with all the masses that waited until the last minute. Been there, done that. Not doing it again.

Go early in the day so the kids are not tired, cranky or wanting to be someplace else.

Feed everyone before you start shopping. Hangry and shopping do not pair well together.

Go with an open heart and mind and let your child allow their personality to shine through. It might just be socks or a folder to you but to your child, it might mean everything.

Enjoy every second of it because it all goes by too quickly. Take the chance to make it a day of bonding with your children. We make a day of it with our girls.

Target always makes it easy for our family to head back to school. This is why Target is my first choice for shopping for all the things my family needs. This year won’t be any different.

How are you preparing for back-to-school this year?

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This month is closing in on me like a Mac truck racing towards my bumper, suffocating me in the process.It started with turkey and family, and now its all a blurred haze of running to and fro, shopping, the Nutcracker is any day now, schools wrapping up, I was just informed that I am to help cook ( must be homemade..wtf?Even my kids don’t get homemade at this time of the year) for the teacher’s breakfast next month and then I got the surprise of a summons for jury duty.I almost fell to the ground in a crumpled pool of tears and assumed the fetal position.How the hell am I to fit jury duty into an already packed schedule with no family here to help? What the fuck am I, the bionic woman? Then there is Christmas. Is it just me or is anyone else feel like they are playing an intense game of chicken with Christmas?

In past years ( back when shopping was still fun for me), I’d try and have all my shopping done before the dreaded Black Friday.I thought I was so cool, all aloof and above these crazed housewives trying to save $2 on some ridiculously priced toy du jour. Oh yeah, I was a real asshole. Then I had kids and I thought, what the hell, I’ll do the Black Friday thing.I’ll play the game. The Big Guy and I went and had coffee while my MIL stayed with the baby ( she was like 8 months old).Hell, she was still sleeping by the time we had returned.There was no urgency. None at all. We were going to buy her what we wanted, no matter what it cost because she was THAT fucking special ( she takes after her Mommy).We’d even go out that afternoon, with her in tow, to buy stuff ( usually for ourselves) on the good discounts.It was a blast.

The couple years later, we had 2 kids. Money was getting a little tighter and so we decided this Black Friday had a little more importance to our lives.We had a plan, a reconnaissance mission, if you will.The objective;split up, recover the coveted items, rendezvous and pay. Simple, right?Newspapers were bought, items circled, routes plotted. We were ready.Hurrah! Then it happened…Toys R Us!If you’ve never experienced TRUS on Black Friday( or as I like to call it the fifth dimension of hell) you have no idea of which I speak. Imagine if you will hundreds of weary eyed,exhausted, broken spirit, broken mind, broken body, broken pocket book mommies and daddies waiting in the rain for a couple of hours with our same mission and a little more determined. These were the marines of parents, they were not backing down and they looked CRAZY! I’m not ashamed to admit it, I was a little afraid. The doors opened and these people, grown adults with children of their own, broke free like bats out of hell into Toys R US. There were carts being rammed, people pushed up against door jams, dolls ripped from Grandmother’s hands, in some cases, Grandmothers being beaten with said doll.It was my worst nightmare. The Big Guy and I said the hell with it, there is NOTHING in this joint worth risking our lives for..not even a damn Zune for $40. We backed our certainly out of our depth asses right the hell out of Toys R US,lucky to escape with all of our extremities and life. Beep, Beep, beep….new parents coming through. I’m sure I saw others, more seasoned parents, smirking at us and our defeat as they slightly released the death grip on their Baby Alive Dolls.

After that experience, last year we skipped it all together. We refused to even acknowledge the day existed. It was far too traumatic.The plan this year was to go out on BLACK Friday and get all my shopping done. This year, I have been a Mommy for 5 years. This year, money is tight.The year has been hard with all the traveling, tears and Daddy being away.This year, I wasn’t taking any bullshit.This year, I wasn’t taking any prisoners and if someone thought they were ripping anything out of my hands…they were risking their life and sadly mistaken.I had become my own worst nightmare. Then, after all the psychological psyching out and physical conditioning…my baby sitter crapped out on me!WHAT?

So, here I am. I’ve missed out on Black Friday, Cyber Monday holds no real enticement for me, and the month is packed full of responsibilities and appointments.Wonder if my girls would go for just getting a shit load of love under the tree..THAT I can provide.They get that every day.Too bad I can’t wrap up hugs, kisses, cuddles, sleepy smiles, children’s laughter, long lingering hugs,quiet moments, and priceless little voices lifted up in song. That’s all I want for Christmas..and maybe some alone time with my Big Guy. For now, back to my game of chicken between me and Christmas.Who’s going to swerve first..not me!Christmas, you will be my bitch!Well, if you call being my bitch, me shopping online until the wee hours of the night.But what about this jury duty business? Well, I’m not above crying and they would be real tears! What’s your worst Christmas shopping experience?

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