Wednesday, 6 September 2017

How I Prepare for Back to School!

After an amazing six weeks together, September finally arrived along with the return of "Back to School". I understand that for a lot of people it can be a relief, especially when you work full time and need to arrange childcare, but I absolutely love the summer holidays and so I was a little sad to see the kids go back to school on Monday.

Riley has just entered reception, Ben has gone into Year 5 and Emma is now in Year 6 which is her final year in primary school. It still feels like yesterday that I was taking her to nursery and cannot believe just how quickly the time flies by.

Although we have had plenty of fun over the summer holidays, it is also a time for "Back to School" preparation. New uniforms, shoes, coats, bags & stationary all need to be arranged, as well as planning ahead for snack money, dinner money or packed lunches and school trips. I know that both Emma and Ben will both have the opportunity to go on a residential trip this year and from past experience I know that all classes usually go on at least one school day trip before Christmas so I try to budget and plan ahead for these eventualities as well as making sure my budget covers everything that they need for returning back to school.

School Uniform

Our school has recently introduced a new school logo and although they are phasing the old school uniform out over a couple of years, I decided that I would like them to return in September with the new clothing. We were made aware of the costs a few months ago and so back in May, I made a list of everything that they would need. I checked the school uniform list carefully and made sure that I made a note about which items needed to have the school logo and which items didn't. Every year I always save £30 a month towards school uniforms so that each August I have £360 so spend on clothing and equipment without feeling the pinch. I increased this ever so slightly from May to August to £35 as the new supplier of the uniform was slightly more expensive than the previous.

Once I know that I have my budget sorted, I can then begin to shop around for the non logo items such as shirts & blouses, skirts, trousers, & joggers. I have purchased supermarket items in the past, and still do buy school shirts, blouses and socks from our nearest Asda. However, when it comes to skirts, trousers and joggers, I have found that they can wear quite quickly, so usually try to find my nearest stockist of the Trutex brand. I have found Trutex to be of really good quality in the past and that their trousers seem to withstand any playground test that my son Ben puts them through.

They have put together a handy back to school guide this year that features advice from experts, a handy school uniform checklist and top tips on preparing for back to school. This can be found here:

Trutex Back to School Guide

School Shoes

It is so important to get well fitting shoes for your children for when they head back to school. A child will be wearing these shoes for an average of 7 hours a day, as well as running around in them at play times, so it is vital that they fit well and are comfortable. Some stores offer a foot measuring service to ensure that you buy the perfect size, but a lot of online retailers also now have a handy print out guide that helps you to get the right size even when choosing to purchase online.

Back in July we reviewed some Bella Brogue Lace Up shoes from Term Footwear. My daughter was really impressed with them and they were so comfortable for her during the day. In addition to wearing them in school time, we walk just over two miles a day to get to school and back and so it is always important to me that they don't rub or cause any discomfort during the walk to school. As my daughter has had no complaints about her shoes at all, it made Term Footwear my "go to" brand when looking at new school shoes for Riley. As he is starting reception it would be the first time that he has had to wear smart shoes all day and I also know how active he is at play times, so I knew that they would be the ideal choice for him when considering his comfort.

Riley hasn't mastered the skill of tying his own shoe laces yet, so a velcro fastening was a must have for me, to make sure that he had no difficulties taking his shoes on and off for PE lessons, or worrying about tying his laces. After having a good look through the choices we finally settled on the Hoddle Double shoes, which look fantastic.

Term Footwear have also put together a great little video called 'A Day in your Shoes' which gives a true reflection of what happens in a school day and how Term shoes are the ideal footwear. It also features animated captions explaining the benefits of Term School Shoes. The video can be found below:

School Bags & Stationary

Riley doesn't really have much need for a school bag in reception, instead just opting for his lunch bag and school branded book bag. However Emma and Ben both like to have sports branded bags which as most parents know, can be quite expensive. We always have a look online to try and get a good deal, but the last couple of years, I have found our local Nike Outlet store to offer the best deals and value for money with their bags costing around £12 as opposed to around the £20 mark in other stores.

None of my children actually require stationary at the moment as this is provided by the school, but Emma likes to have some of her own pens in her bag for writing and drawing. She loves art and likes to do some sketches, if it is a rainy day and they have to stay in the classroom, so we do buy a few things for her to keep in her bag. We find that Asda & B&M to have a great range of stationary at affordable prices. I remember my mum always having to take me to an actual stationary shop to purchase mine and it costing a small fortune, but nowadays most large stores seem to stock a great range of stationary in the run up to back to school.

School Trips

The last thing you want after spending a small fortune on uniform is a letter on the first day telling you about an upcoming school trip that needs payment by the following week. With Emma and Ben only being a year apart, I have found that a lot of their school trips are the same and that they often go together, so it means double expenditure for me. Luckily I have learnt to prepare for this and put aside £20 a month for school trips. This means that I never have to worry about money for school trips or deposits for residentials and this certainly takes a lot of the pressure off. On the first day of school this week they both came home with a letter for a trip taking place next week, that they also need a costume for. Although I hadn't planned ahead for the need for a costume, it does mean that I have been able to pay for their school trip without any issue.

Saying Goodbye at the Gate

Well this is one thing that I am never prepared for and cry on the first day back every single year! This year has been particularly hard, as its the first time in 10 years that I haven't had a little sidekick with me all day. I am already missing building train tracks with Riley & our little trips to the shop for sneaky treats whilst Emma and Ben were in school. It is definitely going to take some getting used to!

I hope everyone's Back to School days have gone well, and that your children have a fantastic school year in their new classes!

Disclaimer: This post was written of my own accord and I have not been asked to include any brands mentioned, or received any additional payment. Opinions and thoughts are my own unless otherwise stated.

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