Retail Talk: Surviving Back To School Through New Years

Unless you’re apart of my immediate life, you may not know what my “day job” is. For the past 5 years, I’ve been doing overnight retail. As someone who has worked this field, I feel strongly that everyone should work retail or food service, preferably both, and in food service, there’s so much that you need to do. Be apart of wait staff, cook or be a bus boy (girl…we all know the term really isn’t sexist, let’s be real), or work any part of retail (cashier-ing, stocking), and I don’t care what shift. You’ll learn so much from the service industry.

It’ll also make you feel dead inside, while also making you want to shake your head, as well as the customer/patron at points. If you’ve worked either, you know exactly how that feels.

Seeing as we’re just past the Back to School season, I wanted to share some tips on how to survive this season (the last trimester of the year…August through December). I’d like to think some of my tips can help those in the food industry as well as my field of retail work, but I hope that anyone in any field can at least take something away from this survival guide of sorts.

I’m only speaking from the retail experience, so mind my bias, and take what you can, if you’re not in this field of work.

Here’s some basic tips, I’d love to share:

Have A Night-time Routine.

Whether your nights are in the PM or the AM, have a night time routine. Most people consider their night time routine to start sometime after dinner, and everyone is different in when they start it. Even what we do for our night time routine is different.

This is something I’ve fluctuated with for awhile now. My bedtime is 1 pm, personally. I work nights, and depending on the day, I can go to bed earlier or later, but my focus is getting the rest I need.

In the summer I need more rest, as I don’t get the darkness sleep that I should and need to get. I am introverted and don’t care for the heat, so being indoors is more beneficial for me. Plus I’m red-headed and have light skin, so I’m sure my skin thanks me for not torturing myself in the sun!

In the winter, as much as you’d think I’d want to sleep more, being as the “day” is shorter, I do, but I don’t. Growing up, I loved being an early riser. I was that cliche cartoon watcher at 6 or 7 am on the weekends. I didn’t really need to get up too early on weekdays, as my morning routines as a kid wasn’t too much. But I’d watch the Golden Girls or Mama’s Family on my mom’s bedroom TV, as she noticed I’d watch (she’d keep the TV on to sleep), then I’d do basic things like brush my teeth, or do my hair as the show went on, or during the commercial breaks.

As I got older, I noticed I liked the late evenings as well. I became a napper. I’d go to bed “early” or take a nap, and get up and do homework, more so in high school. Some of it was me aging, and not liking the heat, as well as the fact that I was introverted, could sidetrack easily, and needed that quiet focus to attempt to learn or do homework.

Lately, I’ve been trying out different things, but I’ve noticed that 1 pm seems to be a good aim for bed, so if I’m more tired that day, I can go to bed at noon or 12:30, and if I’m not (like today), 1 is good, and so is moments after, no later than 1:15.

Have a morning routine:

It’s okay if your workday routine is different than the weekend (or what we call weekend, in the service industry). Mine is totally different even!

My work one is super basic, since it’s not only retail, but overnight retail. They’re lucky I show up in pants haha! Kidding!

I do a little pampering, but no makeup and negative things on hair. It takes me 15 minutes to get ready, outside of what our lunch may or may not take each day. But the pampering helps make me feel like a human, versus an “I don’t even know what” species.

My weekend wake-ups involve a lot of laying around, enjoying the comforts of my bed, for maybe too long, stretching, and maybe dosing back off for 10 minutes. So feel free to have a work and a day off variant of the wake up, and even if you want to do the same to the night routine, go ahead (like a hair mask, sit in the tub or Jacuzzi if you’re that lucky, with some wine/sparkling wine, and throw a face mask on).

Leave Work at Work

This is something I’ve been doing for the last handful of months, and boy, is this something everyone forgets! It’s okay to have a convo once you get home, especially when you and your spouse or roomie work different jobs. But with that convo (or when you hit that *I’m in the car, and going home* moment), be done with the work day there. Even if it means you grab a tea from *insert shoppe here…Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, local place you get your made-to-go tea or morning coffee* or a baby bottle of wine/sparkling wine from the store for you (or you and your roomie/partner).

Trust me on this: it’s a process, and each day (or each bad day, once you get the “usual” day under wraps) is it’s own. Grab some comfort food, that’s easy to deal with, when you go grocery shopping (or have the always ready go-to foods on your phone, and swing by the store, so you can feel what food mood you’re in, and not buy the whole store) (BTW: can I start the Food Mood trend?!)

I feel the need to manage my “shit day”/emotional eating issues, but if you need that Taco Bell order, you get that Taco Bell order (I wish Postmates would come to my small ass town…)

Do Something You Like

I binge watch YouTube. Tell me you don’t….I want to see your history! I watch YouTube as I’m cooking and usually eating as well. Sometimes (usually Sunday or Monday mornings), I go down a slight rabbit hole. The rest of the week is just catching up on certain people’s uploads.

If you’re new here, I also love to cook. It’s not a difficult task for me, so watching videos of something not related to my work and what I’m making is hardly a struggle.

I also have this blog. I really enjoy writing and love an outlet. I’ve journeled, done habit trackers, and am/have been doing the Artist of Life Workbook, which includes journaling prompts and reflections for the quarter and month, which helps me in all I want to do.

Personally, I have a few other ideas I want to stick my toe in. I have a couple book ideas, and something I don’t know how I want to format, but it’s a good idea, from what I gathered from a general twitter poll.

If you have something you’re gifted in, share in the comments! I plan on trying out sewing after I get a machine later this year. Literally shame me if I don’t, please!

Find Something To Do:

This is where I suggest guilty pleasures. Most people frown apon this. I personally, at this point of my life, do not care. I’m in retail and have a dead soul. Ice cream, food in general, fancy alcohol (or moderately priced on a Wednesday), video games, or TV/movies, it’s all okay. Enjoy yourself and unwind some.

Your day/week/month/year may consist of a lot of work (how you make money, and work on yourself or the apartment/house you have), but why should we kill ourselves to be miserable? Let’s be real: a cute trinket or seasonal garment is very in the moment.

It helps some, sure, but let’s be easy and frank at the same time: not everything has to be work work work. Work at the job, work on myself, work on the house/apartment, work on this or that. How exhausted are you?

More than you think, or even want to admit. Adulting sucks, I’ve realized in my “6 years” of it. We all joke about wanting a refund, but what do we do day to day, to make it bearable?

As cliche as it sounds, Treat Yo’ Self sounds great here. Find something silly, something totally ditsy, but something that makes you happy. Not even something like gaming or shopping, because that’ll make you more frustrated and guilty than you think.

Sure all guilty pleasures make you this way. But do something that truly makes you happy, outside of the mentality of winning (winning the round, the monthly score, appearing well off or fashionable, seem luxurious, or even trying to one up someone).

If gaming relaxes you, cool, go play Minecraft, Sims, or Pinball.  If you like technology, watch Sony’s, Apple’s, or Microsoft’s Keynote Events every year (I did with Apple this year and last’s). I haven’t had an Apple product in years. But it’s inspiring, and I’m curious to see what they’re doing. There’s no real reason to it, other than fascination.

Learn the Pattern

This is the total opposite of what I just said. But if you know retail’s habits, especially within the same company, it won’t make you so anxious. Learn to go with the flow, and learn the pattern as well. Then you’ll know what to expect.

Ask someone you feel somewhat close with, on what the next change might be like (Back to school, to Halloween, to *kind of fall*, to Well hello there winter Christmas New Year!).

When I started, knowing the gist of things helped. Now that I’m a seasoned worker, I truly strive to help my newer coworkers on anything retail, let alone holiday retail.

Since I didn’t have someone like myself when I got hired, I made myself that person. I’ve had a handful of people now, come up to me and talk to me about issues of this or that, and mention how much I’ve helped them, and they feel so comfortable coming up to me with a “I feel stupid asking this…but…” question. If I don’t know, I find out, or reference them to someone, and I follow up, and find out for myself, so I can help the next person that might ask something like that.

I don’t know where this saying came from, but I truly love it: Always be a learner. Even if you’ve heard the lecture before, or the topic before, there’s always something you can learn from it.

Get a Work Bestie/Wife/Husband:

This is so odd, but it’ll truly help. You don’t need to actually be romantically involved with the “wife” or “husband”, but the basis is all the same: find someone you vibe with, and it’ll make the season at least a little more bearable.

And for the record: YES, YOU CAN HAVE A GROUP. Also: YES, YOU CAN BE ROMANTICALLY INVOLVED (fine print: unless your work contract says otherwise, go for it boo!).

Have someone or a few people you click with, not only makes the stressful months less stressful and alone, but even the dead months more enjoyable too! Plus you have easier access to someone who knows the job, when you need a relate-able person to vent to.


Try having a cook out, a dessert bar, or a “bring a plate, get a plate” lunch at work, if you can. My job does this once a quarter, then a Thanksgiving and a Christmas meal as well. Sometimes the workers will throw in ones throughout the year as well, for whatever cause. Especially if your work doesn’t do even close to what mine does, I suggest starting it yourself!

Do something nice for your coworkers, like holiday cards. You don’t have to gift, but even the thought and the card is great for a lot of people.



I’ve given a lot of tips, and I hope that it helps. I don’t know what I missed, but if I did, comment and let me know!

What do you do during the hectic months of retail? Are you going to try any of my tips this year? Let me know about that too!

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