Last weekend, I realized it was time to buy supplies for my daughters’ upcoming school year, so I did what any reasonable person with ADHD would do: I avoided back-to-school shopping by throwing myself into another – and completely pointless – task.

The bad news is that my children are still unprepared. The good news is that I have three new bird feeders and an app to identify birds from the American Southeast.

Back-to-school shopping scares me

It’s not that I think it’s more important for me to learn finches and sparrows than for my 9 year old to learn pronouns and fractions or for my 12 year old to learn monarchies and democracies. It’s just that the back-to-school races scare me. I have ADHD, which impairs my executive function, such as the ability to plan things, motivate myself, and concentrate – all skills required to shop for school supplies.

Planning purchases is difficult because, well, where even are school supply lists? I tried googling them once but found questionable websites. Another time, I looked for them on the school district’s Facebook page, but without success. However, I succumbed to a targeted ad for Schitt’s Creek colouring pencils.

Driving to a Big Box retailer might be easier. Some parents said school supply lists were posted at Walmart. But I should put on real pants to see for myself. All my real pants are dirty. That means I should be wearing the ripped gym shorts I slept in last night. And this means I should shave my legs, and you know what? Forget.

[Free Resource: Your Back-to-School Playbook]

Even if I went to the store, I’d be so distracted by neon notebooks and glittery binders that I’d stray from the school supply list. Instead, I would go home with an agenda for me (but which I will never use), a fishing license, a Beaches DVD, a fourth bird feeder, guilt and mental fatigue.

what would i do not bring home from the store? Something essential, like pencils. (If only I could send the kids to school with the Schitt’s Creek colouring pencils. Unfortunately, colors like “Roland Schitt Brown” aren’t school-appropriate.)

School Supply List Solution

So this year I’m trying something different. I agree to order everything online at the last minute – after my mom texts me the supply lists – and have it overnight. That’s what I’ve done every year so far, and my kids are doing well.

I mean, last year my eldest daughter did a poster presentation on theoretical vacation travel to the outer planets of the solar system. My youngest daughter won the third grade essay contest and built the most stable chopstick and marshmallow tower in her class.

[Self-Test: Executive Dysfunction in Adults with ADHD]

Sometimes I need to remind myself that they are thriving, that I am doing enough and that I a m sufficient.

Plus, I offset the conventional back-to-school shopping experience by impulse buying nonsense my kids want all year, from scented markers to hand-knit backpacks decorated with frogs.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to photograph this bird. It is extremely urgent that I find out if it is a Chimney Swift.


Back-to-school shopping: next steps

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