Sure they’re only just breaking up from school now for the long, hot (hopefully) school holidays now, BUT it’s never too early to prepare for them going back.
Take it from one who has done the back to school thing for seven straight years now. Week one goes by in a haze, a couple of weeks off for a holiday, a week chilling out, and before you know it, there are two weeks left and you have uniform to buy, the kids are totally out of their sleep routine and the thought of the whole ‘wash uniform, make packed lunches, be up on time’ schedule fills you with dread.
In fact, you’ll probably spend a whole week worrying and moaning about it, so there’s another week gone!
Yes I speak from experience.
So how do you avoid all the stress? Well, sorry to all those ‘fly by the seat of their pants’ type of people, but it requires planning. And a little know how.
Here are 5 tips I’ve learned over the years to help with the back to school
1. Make the preparation a game – chores stop being chores when they’re fun.
I was forever fighting a losing battle of ‘put your school shoes under the stairs not under the coffee table’ rants and ‘please try these shirts on because I don’t want to get to the first day of term and they’re two sizes too small’ moans.
You get fed up of the sound of your own whiney voice.
So I changed my tactics: Whoever puts their shoes under the stairs the neatest gets to choose what we have for dinner. Let’s have a fashion show with the new uniform. I’ll choose the fashion music, dad can be the audience.
To be honest, I hate being told ‘do this, do that’ when it’s boring; now we have a giggle when doing the menial stuff.
2. An informed shopper is a savvy shopper
No sooner have the schools broken up, the supermarkets start offering really good deals on stationery. So stock up on what you need and put it away.
On top of that stores like Marks & Spencer offer deals on all uniform (there’s 20% off until July 14). And while I’m not an advocate for putting all your eggs in one basket and buying all uniform really early (in my experience, kids grow like little flowers over the summer so you don’t want to end up with uniform that doesn’t fit) if you can leave it until the deals are about to end you can get most of what you need for a great price.
Leave shoes until as late as you can – you’ll be gutted if you’ve spent £40 on a pair of school shoes and the day they put them on you discover they hurt their toes. Been there too.
3. Make mornings easier, by lightening the load the night before.
Every evening I make the packed lunches, ask what they want for breakfast and lay all their uniform out ready for the morning. They also pack their school bags with what is needed by way of books and kit.
That way, the morning stands a much better chance of being laid back and stress free (unless like me, you forget to wash and/or dry the PE kit and are there at 6am desperately trying to right the wrong).
4. Make the journey to school fun, fun, fun
Come on, this should be a given. If you’ve done number 3 on the list, you shouldn’t be stressing to get out of the front door. Instead you should have a leisurely drive/cycle/bus journey/ walk ahead of you.
We’ve had impromptu treasure hunts (first one to find/see . . . ), count how many steps we take in the mornings to get to school, see if we can reduce the number of steps it takes to get to school (moon steps), invent a song on the way to school, invent a song to remember the 6 times table, the world is pretty much your oyster, so get creative!
5. Create a back to school checklist – and give the kids ownership of it
I’ve found it doesn’t matter what age your kids are they really do love a checklist. So make them individual ones and tell them they are in charge of making sure everything is done on said list.
Let them come up with some entries of their own and let them ‘assign’ jobs. To be honest, you’ll probably be doing them all anyway, so if a couple get pushed their way then all the better.
Make sure you have any essentials you want on there (check school calendar dates, full uniform list, fill in any school forms, write love notes for their lunch boxes :-)) then when all the jobs are complete reward them with a new pen/notebook/water bottle or whatever it is they covet.
Finally remember, the school days don’t last forever and there will come a time when you miss them terribly and wish you could go back and do it all again. So make the most of them 🙂
This is a sponsored post written in collaboration with Marks & Spencer as part of their #TipsAndTricks campaign.