Passionate About Pittsburgh
and the Moms Who Live Here

First day of school gifts: Stop the madness!

It was a rainy Saturday night…

Wow, this blog is starting off like a novel, isn’t it?

Anyway, my daughter and I were pacing up and down the cleaning aisles of the local Target looking for sponges requested by one of her teachers for her school. I had no idea looking for something like that would be so difficult. Apparently Swiffers and cloths are the thing now. But we saw the Dena Blizzard video online, and darn it we were going to hug our teachers and get their supplies. We ended up finding some on an endcap, we picked up some more packages of colored pencils her homeroom teacher requested, and headed to the checkout line.

After a few more stops, we headed home. I checked Facebook and saw a notification from a mom’s page that caught my attention: “What do you give your teachers for a first day of school gift?” This lady wanted to make sure she wasn’t giving anything too cheap or skimpy.

Too cheap or skimpy? When in the world did this even become a thing!?!

I read on and my jaw just dropped. I was okay with people who did a small gift card for a cup of coffee. Whatever, that’s nice. But there were people giving clothing, bath kits, making supply cakes (think diaper cakes like you give someone at a baby shower,) massive crafts, graham crackers shaped like pencils, and it went on and on to the point where I just could not stop the word vomit from flowing from my fingers.

This isn’t gifting of any kind when it gets to this level. Seriously, go type in “First day of school gifts” on Pinterest. This is what you get.

This is not gifting. This is not even normal. This is just plain sucking up. It’s selfish. It makes the moms who can’t afford to do all of this stuff feel like crap and that they are not contributing to the classroom.

And sorry moms, you are not helping your teachers by giving all of these elaborate gifts. Nearly every single teacher I spoke to? They found it unnecessary and many just plain didn’t want the stuff, especially at the beginning of the school year.

I apologize for sounding mean, but the focus is in the wrong place. For the beginning of the school year, the place we all need to focus on, and where the focus of that teacher is already on, is the classroom and the children in it.

If you really want to “gift,” buy double or triple the supply list. The average teacher spends anywhere from $500 to as much as $1,000 on their classroom and supplies. Once you know who your teacher is for the school year, you can even ask what décor, furniture, or teaching supplies they need to make the classroom nicer. And always, send in Kleenex, hand sanitizer, and Clorox wipes. That’s going to go much further than a pair of leggings or a body scrub.

I had one particular person on social media tell me her school was so great they had a surplus of supplies and her items were sent back to her at the end of the year. She also told me she was a homeroom mom, and because of that she had the power to gift her teacher and thank her however she pleased. People like that, and everyone else in that thread, miss the point. You don’t give gifts to give gifts, and you certainly don’t give them in a school setting to make yourself feel important. You give them to help the teacher and the children, and you give things that will benefit their learning. I wonder in the midst of her “supply surplus” rant, if this homeroom mom ever thought about asking her teacher if there were any students or families in the class that were struggling, and if she could “adopt” those families so the teacher or the school didn’t have to foot the bill to supply those students. If you are all about gifting whenever you want and showing your appreciation, and she told me she was all about showing appreciation, that’s how you do it in a school setting. You make the world a better place for the teachers and the kids.

I think the Mommy Wars have extended to places we haven’t even realized, and now we even have to one-up each other in the gifts we give our teachers, and we are now creating extra times we have to give them gifts as well. In doing this, we have missed so many points. First off, the teachers don’t want the elaborate gifts, they would much rather you contribute to the classroom and to the children. Second, we aren’t really giving the gifts to thank our teachers, we are giving them for show. Get the supply list, get ideas of what families need help and get supplies, donate your time. Get off of Pinterest and get into the classroom!

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