Back to school. Back to school. Back to school.
I am chanting that quietly in my head. Not because I am really looking forward to it (well, maybe a bit) but really to remind me that there is still uniform to be bought, feet to be measured, stationery to be sorted, names to be scrawled in permanent marker.
It is a crazy time. Six weeks is such a long time and if your kids are anything like mine, the 7 am alarm call will feel like the middle of the night for everyone for at least the first month.
As much as claiming a few hours to myself back come September 4th, there is a small part of me that is inwardly groaning. The thought of having to nag two boys out of bed, ironing all those white shirts, making lunchboxes again does not fill me with overwhelming joy.
But there must be ways to make that transition back to school easier mustn’t there? I think so. And just to prove it, here are my top ten back to school hacks. Things that I do and use that make the process far less painful.
Start to adjust their bedtimes
If you are anything like me, by the end of the first week of the summer holidays, bedtimes are later and so are the getting up times. Mine have become so good at lying in that breakfast often doubles up as lunch. I don’t mind as school days are such early starts that I enjoy a relaxing start to the day as much as they do.
However, when it comes to having to get up at a reasonable time again, it feels to them like it is the middle of the night. So for the last week, start to adjust bedtimes and get up times back to where they were in July and fingers crossed, the first week back won’t be such a big shock.
Double check that you have everything you need
I know that sounds obvious. But this is the woman that thought she had everything sorted one year and then discovered the night before they were all due back at school that one son had no shoes. I had thrown them away at the beginning of the holiday and completely forgot to get new ones. I was on the doorstep of our local supermarket when the doors opened at 8 am and thank goodness, there was a pair of black shoes in my son’s size.
Maybe another lesson there is not to throw the old shoes out, however bad they look until you buy the new pair.
This is my back to school checklist:
- Check that all of the shoes, trainers, pumps, football and rugby boots are the right size, still in reasonable condition and we have two of them (don’t ask)
- Check that uniform is still in good condition, iron and label anything new
- Check PE kits
- Pencil cases, sort out and restock with new equipment
- School bag, wash and check to see if it will last or if it needs replacing
- Check the pockets of blazers for holes
Buy too much uniform
You can never have too much uniform. I know some parents who buy two of everything and I genuinely don’t know how they manage. I buy five of everything. Yes, it is more expensive, I do see that but for me, I know that there is something clean for every day of the week. That way, I don’t have the stress of washing and ironing everything midweek. It makes life a lot easier.
You really do have to label everything. I have lost so much stuff over the years and thankfully we have been reunited with most of it due to my labelling efforts. It is a hassle though and one of those things that is worth doing a few days before the beginning of the term. I hang my head in shame when I admit that last years labelling consisted of scrawling over clothing labels with a permanent marker or when I lost that, I even resorted to a biro. A biro!!
The reality is that I don’t have enough hours in the day as it is. Sewing or ironing in name labels is a worthy job indeed but I don’t have the time (or the patience). This year I am trying something new. Neatlynamed has sent me some of their labels to try out. No sewing, no ironing you simply stick them. That is even quicker than grabbing a pen. They do clothing stickers which are amazing as they stick onto the clothing label. They also do sticker labels for everything else.
Neatlynamed sent us a set of their Disney labels to review. We love Disney and I knew that my daughter would love the Disney Princess themed labels. The Disney range has Disney Princess, Frozen, Planes, Cars and a mixed set with lots of favourite Disney characters.
The name labels are priced at £13.95 and contain two sheets of 21 labels. These labels are dishwasher and microwave proof and can be used for lunchboxes, snack pots, drinks bottles, toys and bags.
The Neatlynamed Disney clothing stickers also cost £13.95 and you get 32 personalised stickers that you simply peel and stick. You can include one name or two and both the name labels and the clothing stickers are quite thick and give the impression that they will withstand a lot of washing and general wear and tear.
I was also impressed how quickly the order was sent out, they dispatch within 24 hours and your labels should be delivered in 1 – 3 days, which is all included in the £2.20 shipping cost.
Find out more about Neatlynamed and their range on the website.
If like me, you have a child starting at a new school, however old they are, you need to make sure that you are familiar with everything from the route to school to what colour socks they should be wearing. The joys of living in the digital world really help with this.
Check out the website and familiarise yourself with start and finish times, lunchtime routines, uniform etc.
Most schools have an electronic payment system, if so, sign yourself up and add some money ready for the first week back. Put the school number into your phone. Check when the school is closed for TE Days and while you are there, why not put the term’s important dates in your calendar or diary. All of these things can make the first few weeks a lot easier.
Find out if your school has an app. Lots do and it is so handy as it gives you access to news, events and important information and it is so handy to have it all on your phone. See if your school has a Facebook or Twitter page, our school has a Facebook group for parents and again, it is so useful as you can pop in and ask anything, however silly it might seem.
Whether your route to school is on foot or in a car, when starting a new school it is important to do a dry run to see how long it takes and if you are in a car bear in mind that it will be much busier on a real school day. Look for handy parking that isn’t so close to the school as outside school can get really busy. If your child is going on a bus, make sure that they know where the bus stop is, how long they need to get there and what time the bus will arrive in the morning.
Will they need a key? My boys do occasionally have to come home on their own and this year, they will both need a key, so I need to get a spare key cut.
Prepare for homework
For all three of mine, there will be an increase of homework this year. Whilst this does not fill me with joy as homework is something we always battle with, it helps to start them thinking about it before the start of term. Is there a desk or table where they can work quietly? If so, set up a pot or tub with stationery essentials, rough paper, a calculator and maybe a dictionary so that they can use it when they need to.
During the last few days of the holidays, encourage them to do some daily reading if they have taken a break. Do some quizzes with them to get their brains working. Maybe get them to do a mini project?
Banish those nasties
Whether you are worried about germs or those pesky nits, the first few weeks back at school can be a time of bugs of all kinds.
Having had a relaxing summer, hopefully with lots of sunshine, the first few weeks of the first term can hit the healthiest of children, so it is good to give them a last minute boost to try and keep the bugs at bay. Plenty of fresh air and sunshine, a healthy mix of different foods and there are lots of multivitamins for children of different ages that can also help. This article gives lots of advice for back to school health boosting.
If you are concerned about head lice, go for the preventative approach. There are always two bottles of Vosene in our bathroom. We buy the 3in1 shampoo and the conditioning defence spray and we all use it at least every other day. We only discovered the Vosene range after our first experience of nits and even with regular notifications from the children’s’ schools to say that someone in their class has an infestation, we have only had two mild bouts.
Both of these products come from a lovely range of children but these two, in particular, contain tea tree and citronella oils which are proven to help prevent head lice but also leave hair clean and shiny looking. We all love it, especially my husband who has some scalp problems and he always says that the conditioning defence spray is soothing.
Find out more about these and the rest of the Vosene product range here and watch their #TermReady video for more inspiration.
No screens in the morning
This rule quite literally changed our mornings. I used to allow screens in the morning and it was a constant battle to drag my sleepy kids away. That was when I only had the television to contend with and now that devices are in play, it is even worse. We have to get out quite early now and by eliminating screen time, it has made mornings a lot easier.
Do a ‘stock up’ shop
My summer holiday shopping is so different to term time and this week I really need to get my back to school head on. Most supermarkets will have offers on which are geared around lunchboxes and school snacks so I tend to stock up on as much as I can (a second fridge would be useful) as the offers are only on for a couple of weeks.
Get ready for morning hair
I would like to say that you only have to be ready for morning hair with girls but as my boys have progressed into the tween and teen years, hair has become a time-consuming process. For the boys, I make sure that all of their toiletries are on the sink ready for them so that they can do hair, skin and teeth all in one go. It works well as it reminds them what they need to do when they finally drag themselves out of bed.
Girl hair I have discovered is a whole different ball game. Having grappled with her hair for the last few years, my top tips are to have a couple of containers ready. One is to keep in all of the hair bobbles and clips, the other to keep brushes, combs and detangler in. In the morning, I grab both containers and set up my morning hair salon.
On your marks, get set, go back to school with a smile and you will all soon be back in the school routine.