My daughter started kindergarten last year. It was my first time shopping for school supplies. Sure, I’d heard from others how time consuming it was, but I wasn’t too concerned. “How hard can it be?” I thought. “They give you a list, you buy what’s on the list and that’s that.”

Oh, how naïve I was. It was only after three different shopping trips to three separate stores when I still didn’t have everything on the list that I realized: back-to-school shopping is intense. 

1 | It will be a scavenger hunt

My first attempt at back-to-school shopping was during my lunch break. I went to Target, my go-to one-stop shop, and returned deflated, with only a few items from the list. I wised up quickly and learned that this time-intensive activity will not fit into the “lunch hour” category.

On a separate shopping trip, I went to Safeway. Yes, there was food on my list. Nutritious snack bars and a juice pouch? I thought it was odd for school supplies, but bought them anyway like a good mombot. But I wasn’t done there. I still had to hit up Office Depot and scour the Internet to find everything on the list.

2 | It’s a numbers game

I needed to buy 15 glue sticks. No problem, right? Wrong. I could only find glue sticks that came in packs of two or four. Where were the single glue sticks? Why was everything packaged in even numbers? Would I be the super cheap mom if I snuck a glue stick out of the package and actually handed in an even 15?

Then came two pink erasers. Two! Easy. A number I can work with. Everything comes in twos. Wrong again. All I could find was a pack of three erasers. Seriously? The school supplies were mocking me.

3 | You will wish this task didn’t fall in your “quadrant”

While I was walking the aisles of Office Depot pushing a cart with a bum wheel, I thought to myself, “Why am I the one here doing this?” I envisioned my husband, snuggled up on the couch watching an episode of “House of Cards.” Don’t get me wrong, he does more than his fair share of the household duties, but at that particular moment, I wanted a trade. I wondered if he would consider swapping “financial planner” for “supply officer.”

4 | The list will be particular

Not just any old #2 pencil will do these days. Ticonderoga or Dixon work the best. There will be specific instructions like, “Two boxes of 16 crayons, 16 count only.” Again, it’s a numbers game. I could only find boxes of 24 count crayons. Crayons =1. Mom = 0.

5 |  You will find yourself being self-critical

I berated myself for not starting this process sooner. Why had I waited until September to start shopping? Oh, and then there was the backpack issue. I’m not a commercial, Disney-buying type of mom. I wanted to get my daughter a cute backpack with her name on it and a fun pattern. But I couldn’t find anything I wanted. They were all with unicorns and hearts. Eww. Where were the cute, designer backpacks in chevron patterns or polka dots? So, in my haste, I went with a “Frozen” backpack. My daughter was thrilled. Now she and every other kindergarten girl will have the same backpack. That won’t be confusing at all, will it?

6 | There will be an obscure, hard to find item on the list

For me, it was “a fold up poncho that comes in a little pouch.” Really? Where am I supposed to get that? Sure, we live in Seattle. It rains here. A lot. A poncho can keep kids dry. But does it really belong on the school supply list? I still haven’t found one and have considered sending my daughter with the purple poncho my husband wears at Husky football games. Bad idea?

7 | Right when you think you’re finished, there will be more.

In my case, I still needed to write “a comforting note” to my daughter, find a pair of socks for the “comfort pack,” and who knows what else I missed?