Athena is starting year four in September, and Arlo is going into year two. The fact that I have children that are SO OLD still alarms me, it barely seems like a few months ago that they were pulling on their first ever school uniform and heading off into the classroom, but after three schools (an Infant, a Junior and then a new Primary when we moved house) and many classes and teachers later I think we’re all getting pretty smart at getting ‘back to school’ ready now. In I start getting ready before the kids break up in July. So here are some tips from an experienced primary school mum!
- Supermarkets generally sell good quality uniform for the lowest prices. I prefer Asda and TU at Sainsburys as after much wearing/washing I feel like they keep their shape and quality for longer than Tesco or Morrisons. The bonus is you can grab things with your food shop bit by bit to spread the cost.
- Check out the supermarket websites for bulk buying uniform as inevitably you’ll be buying enough to not have to pay delivery (basically my life’s aim is to not have to pay delivery costs)
- However do be aware of waiting till the last minute (mid August onwards basically) as things will often be sold out in the size you want (regardless of what size that is, it’s sod’s law!) and then you’ll be stressed running around different supermarkets/websites and end up needing to get things from different websites and paying for delivery as you only have one thing left to get. Its for this reason I try and buy all the basics (so polos, trousers, shorts, skirts and dresses) before the kids have broken up for the summer hols.
- You KNOW your kid is going to get taller so if you see uniform in bigger sizes on offer and you can afford to get it, get it. Then keep a list somewhere with what you’ve got stashed away so you don’t forget and buy twice.
- Schools will often have a second hand uniform shop or do a table top sale every so often. If you have a child just starting school its worth asking the receptionist when this happens as it can be a great way to get logo jumpers/cardigan etc for much less than new. Often there are school Facebook Groups too where parents sell on outgrown uniform. If you have friends with older kids who are willing to pass on things that still have life left in them then even better.
- Be wary of the tumble drier – it will often shrink logo sweatshirts and cardigans. The ones with no logo from supermarkets fare really well if you can get away with them, our old school didn’t mind having no logo but our new school wants one, and you can only get them from one specific shop – so do be careful if this is you! Better to have three in rotation than have to wash and tumble one every other day that will shrink!
- It’s worth splashing out on some things: Shoes, wellies, waterproofs and name labels/tags. Both my kids obliterate school shoes within days. don’t ask me how as I have no idea!
- Regatta is our go-to for school-friendly rain jackets and waterproof trousers as they come in little bags to keep them compact and tidy and can be named easily too. This year we’ve been sent both a raincoat and sturdy rucksack for both kids and they’ve come in really handy seeing as here in West Sussex we had our months worth of average rainfall for August in the first week! With the kids at camp and wanted to go to the beach despite the wet weather they’ve been a godsend. The Rucksacks are the perfect size for a day out and have a front zip pocket for essentials, reflective detailing, two side pockets for bottles/sun cream and really comfy straps with an adjustable chest clip (With added whistle for extra parental annoyance, but useful if you lose a kid!) and a padded back to allow for airflow. They’re also waterproof unlike most fashion rucksacks so no soggy school books or uniform. For their Beavers and activity camp days I can fit in a towel and swimming stuff plus water and sun-cream with no problem so their new rucksacks came in handy even before school started too!
- Shoes: I now tend to avoid patent and anything that doesn’t have a rubber toe cap, and prefer leather where possible. Little kids may struggle with buckles and laces so keep that in mind – and often kids will ignore any sort of fastener and just push/pull their feet in/out regardless, little rotters. It can be worth looking on ebay for the next sizes up for new or barely worn shoes – I’ve grabbed shoes really cheap for both kids where the seller has lost the receipt but the shoes haven’t been worn, or have only been worn for a week or two being before outgrown.
- Proper name tags are great, they’re neater than scribbling with a sharpie on the label and will give you a better chance of your kid coming home with the right items. We love the Attach A Tag for its permanence and ease of use – plus the name part can be used over and over again, and no peeling off or coming unstuck either! Seriously though LABEL EVERYTHING.
- Finally, teach your kids to push their jumper sleeves up when using whiteboard markers as those things are a nightmare to get out of clothes! If you do have some stubborn stains like marker pen, school-spaghetti sauce or paint then leaving things out in direct sunlight can work wonders for stain removal after a wash!
So, if you’re a first time parent just getting ready to start your career as a school mum/dad or an old hand hopefully these tips and tricks might have helped.