Whether you like it or not, it’s that time of year again!

The weather is changing, and so are the daily schedules of many people around the world–because it is time to go back to school.

Perhaps you have a little one who is just starting kindergarten, or an older child about to leave the nest for college. Or maybe you yourself are preparing to head back to school. Either way, you’ve got a list of things to buy and organize–and your girlfriends here at MyChelle are here to help!

1. First of all, you’re going to want to make a list. Sounds easy, right? Well, it is… But you’ll be amazed at how creating an actual list of things to check off encourages you to be productive and efficient with your time and budget! This is also a great way to get your child involved: Sit them down, and have them go through the list with you; you’ll be teaching him or her how to get organized, which is a skill that applies to so much more in life than shopping! If you haven’t gotten a list of school supplies from your child’s teacher yet, try asking parents at your school who have older kids; they may be able to offer advice about what is required in the grade you are shopping for.

2. No matter what grade you are shopping for, there are certain basics that you know you’ll need: Paper, pencils and pens, notebooks, and something to carry it all in (ie. a backpack or tote bag) are must-haves for the school year. A lot of these items may be bought in bulk, which will save you money and time in the long run. Hit up your local discount store or shop around online for the best deals; once you’ve stocked up, set up a supply shelf or storage container in your home that you can use all year long.

3. Before stocking up on new school supplies, you may find it necessary to de-clutter. Sort through what you already have, and decide what to do with it in the coming year. Moms may want to keep special boxes or bins for this purpose year-round in their homes. In particular, create a “fix” bin (items that need to be repaired) and a “donate” bin (for things to give or throw away.) This will keep your household better organized throughout the year–which will certainly come in handy each back-to-school season!

4. When shopping for new school supplies, it is important to separate wants from needs. Most basic supplies (like Number 2 pencils and ballpoint pens) don’t go out of style, so you can easily recycle from the previous year. However, every parent with last year’s superhero lunchbox is well acquainted with the power of trends… Instead of letting your child dictate what he or she “needs” (because “everyone else is getting one”) set a budget ahead of time for new items. This will teach your kid how to set priorities and manage money.

5. Once all of the dull list-making and budgeting is out of the way, let yourself (and your children) have a little fun! Shopping’s supposed to be fun, right? And the beginning of any new school year is exciting… Celebrate that (and earn valuable “cool mom” points) by nabbing the trendiest back-to-school items for 2012. Of course, you’ll want to be in-the-know on the latest trends at your kid’s school and take it from there… But no matter your daughter’s favorite shows, characters or games, there are certain things that she’s bound to love:

Scotch Duct Tape now comes in a variety of fun colors and patterns.

SoYoung and MyCocolime both make adorable backpacks for toddlers and older kids, along with lunch boxes–and even chic diaper bags!

– These Glitter Sparkle Pencils are fun and inexpensive over at Big Wheel Novelties. You can also find similar items (along with these Glitter Stick Erasers) over at Amazon.com.

What have you all been stocking up for in preparation of the new school year? What are your favorite products and back-to-school shopping tips? Please share with us in the comments below!

By Liana Orenstein