Today marks the first day of our Summer holidays, thankfully despite a rocky start this morning Mummy managed to pull it back and the day has (so far) been a success. So now whilst Jelly Bean is recharging his batteries with an afternoon nap, Little Bean and Beanie Boy are chilling on the sofa watching a film on Netflix and I’m sitting with them trying to stop myself from nodding off by the power of blogging.
In 6 weeks time, the Summer holidays will be a distant memory and I will be tinged with relief and sadness in equal measures as I drop the Beans off at school on the first day of their new term. I always look forward to the school holidays and the chance to enjoy the Beans’ company but when you get them all together for any length of time the inevitable arguments do tend to be a touch draining. So with this in mind, I wanted to share with you my Back to School #TipsandTricks.
1. Shop Early!
By this I don’t mean get to the shops before they open, I mean don’t leave all your Back to School shopping until the end of the holidays or you will find that everything has been picked over and you will struggle to get school uniform in the right size/colour/style and will probably end up spending more than you had hoped for. Hubby looked at me a little gone out when I told him I was planning on taking the Beans to buy their school shoes today but he would be the first one to moan if we had to buy inappropriate shoes because we missed the boat earlier in the Summer.
2. Speak to other parents
Those parents who have older siblings in school are a wealth of knowledge when it comes to school uniforms; what’s good, what’s not, what’s necessary and what will be a waste of money. Lots of shops offer School Uniform now and some are better than others. When Little Bean started at school we bought lots of the ‘school branded’ clothing because it was on the list but many items were unnecessary. For instance, many parents bought the school-branded reversible coats which look great but of course, they are identical and so get mixed up and lost easily. I have lost count of the number of times we have lost Little Bean’s coat. My best advice for coats is to go for something, warm, waterproof and a little bit individual so that your child can find it easily amongst a sea of coats. This will also help you to spot your child on the school playground before and after school when it can be more like a game of Where’s Wally?!
3. Choose clothing and uniform to suit your child and their capabilities
If your child struggles with buttons, don’t buy them a dress, skirt or trousers with buttons as they will struggle and get stressed out when it comes to getting ready for sports. The same goes for lace-up and buckle shoes, velcro is a safe-haven! If you have a ‘naturally scruffy’ daughter then pinafore dresses are a must-have. No need to worry about tucking t-shirts and blouses into the top of skirts or trousers, with a pinafore they always look tidy.
4. Patent Shoes for girls!
I avoided patent shoes like the plague for Little Bean in the first year of school because I thought they would scratch easily. I don’t know how many pairs of shoes we got through that year but it felt like a pair each half term because she would take the tops straight off the toes. Then a friend told me to buy a patent and my purse strings were saved. The patent shoes still look as good now that she has grown out of them as the day she first put them on her feet. You can also buy a ‘touch up’ bottle which fills in scratches should you need it, we have never even had to open our bottle.
5. Label, label, label!!!
Labelling your child’s uniform won’t stop it from going missing but it will help to get it returned to you a little more swiftly. I personally like the iron-on labels as they are ‘non-scratchy’ for the little people and much less time consuming when it comes to labelling all of the uniforms (especially if you have more than one child).
6. Stress-free mornings?!
Haha, I’m not sure there is such a thing as a ‘stress-free’ morning when it’s time to get back to school. I think it’s the Holy Grail for most parents but there are a few things you can do to make life a little easier on you all . . .
- Prepare pack-ups the night before OR sign up for free school meals if your child is eligible.
- Leave breakfast bowls, cups and cutlery out the night before to save time in the morning.
- Lay out or hang up school uniform (ironed), socks and underwear the night before.
- Leave school bags, together with shoes and coats by the door ready to leave in the morning.
7. The home secretary!
- When you get home from school each night, empty bags straight away and check for letters. Record important dates on the calendar, in a diary or set as a reminder on your phone so they don’t get missed.
- Complete reply slips and write any cheques at night then place with school bags ready for the morning.
- Get into the habit of doing homework/reading soon after school whilst they are still in ‘school’ mode. It makes for an easier life than last minute rushing and arguments.
If you find that your child is struggling with something or someone at school, speak to the Teacher straight away so they are aware of your concerns. I would rather be known as the ‘nagging parent’ with a happy child who is learning than a ‘silent parent’ with an unhappy child who isn’t progressing as they should. My theory is, they can’t put things right if they don’t know about it.
9. Don’t wish the school days away
Once your little one starts at school the time will FLY BY! It only feels like yesterday that we were preparing Little Bean for her first day at school but she is now about to enter Year 3. Key Stage 1 is over and she’s hurtling into Key Stage 2. I looked at some of the Year 6 Leavers yesterday and realised that all too soon that will be Little Bean (and I’m not quite ready for that yet).
10. Enjoy the Holidays!
Make a bucket list, a boredom jar or whatever else you can think of to prompt you when you can’t decide what to do. Make the most of this time together because 6 weeks will pass quickly. Try something new, keep in touch with friends and don’t forget to relax when you can.