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No back-to-school shopping this year

This is the first year in over a decade I won’t be doing back-to-school shopping and I’m conflicted.  

Full transparency: this season of parenthood has not been the easiest. I’m confronted with challenges that are forcing me to embrace new perspectives.  

Simply put – I’m on the verge of an empty nest. 

My son just graduated high school and will be moving out with his friend in October. My daughter has decided to spend more time at her dad’s house and try cyber school, at least for 11th grade.  

The seasons of anguish over finding the perfect backpack, the coolest first-day outfit, and the best trapper keeper are almost past.  

Don’t get me wrong, it feels freeing not having to get all the supplies. I won’t have to worry about packing lunches, getting kids up and ready for the bus or helping with homework. I’ll be able to sleep in. There are perks.  

There are also vivid memories of the time before online shopping. Fighting the crowd, dragging two cranky kids from store to store, waiting in long checkout lines. It wasn’t always fun.  

But then the world changed again with the internet and we developed a routine where the kids sent me links to the supplies they liked, and I could have it shipped or just go pick it up.  

If you aren’t doing this with your kids yet, let me tell you, it was a game changer. Online shopping allowed me to search for the best-priced item and know exactly where to find it. More often than not, I’d have the perfect school supplies shipped right to my door.  

This year, there are no school list links. I am one step closer to entering the next phase—parenting adult children.  

Life feels different. Full of change. Full of choices  

This back-to-school season reminds me that time is a priceless gift. Too often in the past, I wished for the next school year, the next milestone, the day when I didn’t have to go back-to-school shopping. Because I really do not enjoy shopping.  

But this year, it hit differently.  

Even though my kids are still a part of my daily life, I am missing the activity of shopping together, or even sharing website links, in preparation for a fresh start. 

As much as I hated scraping ice from the car windows in the morning, I’m going to miss the early-day talks as I dropped my kids off at school. I’ll miss writing notes on their lunch napkins letting them know “mama loves them.” 

The cycle of raising kids is coming to a close.  

I can’t know what the future holds, but I can be open to whatever it brings. I’m learning that there’s no right or wrong way to feel about my soon-to-be empty nest.  


I will try my best this season to find time and space for my own interests, knowing that life could change again at any moment.   

And to all of you immersed in the back-to-school shopping frenzy, go easy and be kind to yourself.  



Beth Montgomery
Beth Montgomery is a single mom of teens and is a Jill of all trades who lives in the Harrisburg area. While she wasn't born anywhere near here (or even in this country), she calls Central PA home (for now) and writes about her journeys through adulting... with kids. Visit her online at or connect with her on the socials.

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