Being organised is boring. Is what I’ve always felt. But with two children at school and one now at pre-school, organization is not an option, it’s a necessity. Here are some tips and tricks for getting ready for school that I have learned the hard way, in association with @marksandspencer.
Check you know your child’s teacher’s name. Helps with the first impression.
Make a school run soundtrack. We drive to school and to avoid the inevitable backseat squabbles, we have a school run soundtrack CD. This includes lots of upbeat songs to get us pepped up for the day (thank you Beyoncé) – and drown out any whining or moaning (and that’s just from the driver’s seat).
Label everything! It’s quite therapeutic sewing nametapes on. I’ve heard. Personally, I use a laundry pen for virtually everything. Name tapes are fab as they’re easier to see quickly – but I’ve never quite got round to it.
Measure your child. School uniform usually comes with ages and heights on the label. If your child is tall for his age, for example, go for the correct height but check that the waist is adjustable – many makes have this feature, including M&S. You probably shouldn’t wait till their first day at school to try their clothes on, as I did, resulting in sending my firstborn to school in calf-skimmers, poor thing.
Buy as much spare uniform as possible. There’s always a day when your child comes home with a jumper spattered with his lunch while his other one is still at school from the day before. And I find trouser legs are always muddy at the bottom even if it’s been dry all day. School uniform can be obtained at very affordable prices from retailers such as M&S, so it’s worth stocking up if you can. Most schools run second-hand uniform sales too.
Look for ‘Easy Care’ features in your uniform. Easy iron shirts are a must: M&S’s Ultimate Non-Iron shirts are a godsend. Trousers and jumpers with technological fabric such as in-built protection against stains and wear and tear on the knees are also great.
Put shoes and bookbags by the door the night before. I have spent so many mornings shrieking “where’s your other shooooooooe?!” that it is my solemn vow and promise to myself that I will not go to bed at night unless there is an even number of shoes by the door.
Keep a dedicated place for all your school letters. I used to use the fridge door but I have so much paper coming home with my youngest at pre-school now, that I have three magazine files in the kitchen, one for each of them.
Have a “leaving-the-house klaxon”. I don’t mean an actual klaxon, unless you live far from your nearest neighbours. I mean a ritual, a countdown or a recognizable symbol that gets your kids out the door. Other than, “Come ON, mummy will look bad if we’re late again!”
I know some people swear by having visual prompts to spur them into action: a print-out of a toothbrush, a pair of shoes and a coat, for example – a picture is worth a thousand stressed-out mummy nags. I used to shout “Sound the Octoalert!”, but a couple of years on, my kids have grown out of this and I struggle to muster the jollility required day in day out. The point is, a regular, recognizable code is great to let everyone know the school run is in business.
Uniform tips and tricks if you have two children at the same school
Order nametapes (if you use them) with just your surname on, or just your child’s initial, so you can cross it out with a laundry pen and write their younger sibling’s initial on.
Buy short socks for one and long for the other. My husband’s sock “collection” is enough to drive me nuts, without a Sunday night school sock shocker. Since their socks are under trousers, it makes no difference if they’re long or short, so if they’re a different shoe size range (usually 6.5-9.5, 9.5-12.5, 12.5-3.5), buying different lengths for each child makes it a lot easier to spot whose is whose. Or you could do ribbed and plain if the school doesn’t specify.
Buy a “shared spare”. I have one jumper that is too big for the younger sibling and a little snug on the older, but will do for either in a squeeze. Same with PE shorts etc.
Differentiate their bookbags. Buy a toy keyring for each so you know whose is whose (we have Lego Star Wars for both, but on one Darth’s body is missing…).
What’s your top trick for the big ‘Back to School’ ?
Best of luck for the new term!
Disclosure: I was compensated for participating in the campaign by M&S but all views are my own. I have bought M&S uniform for years.
Picture credits: M&S