Maria Rushe shares her top organising and cost-cutting tips for Back to School preparations.
Now that we finally know that our little darlings will be going back to school, we can start to think about getting ready.
Maybe you are already organised.
Maybe you have been putting it off.
Maybe you spread it out over a few months.
Maybe, like me, you refuse to acknowledge it until the very last minute and every year, berate yourself on August 29th as you trawl through the leftovers on the shelves.
Let’s be honest, whichever you are, we all get there and they all get back to school fully clothed and stocked up. Eventually.
But for many this year, there was a genuine concern that it was too early to start getting ready for fear that they would be off longer, was real.
Thankfully, we have had it confirmed by the powers that be, that yes indeed, our precious schools will reopen next month.
And I don’t know about you, but my two daughters are DELIGHTED.
As am I.
So here are some tips for getting organised (if you aren’t already!)
- Make a list –
What do you already have? What do you need to get? Do you REALLY need it all?
Try on uniforms and check what you need to replace. Is there really anything wrong with the trousers from last year? Will the jumper last another few months?
School clothes are now available all year round. They don’t magically disappear from the shelves in October.
Check what you have already – Go through what is in the house – At a guess, there are 7 of those lunch box bags in my kitchen if I looked. So again, they’re going to be reused. Do invest in sturdy lunchboxes however. I love the boxes with compartments for the food. Again, check what you already have. The good ones last for years.
There is no Sanctimammy at the school gate checking that every item your child has is new.
- Accept help if you’re lucky enough to be offered it.
Lists also help you know what to ask for if a family member asks what they can buy little Archibald or Susanella for going back to school. PE tee-shirts? Socks? Colours? Hat? If/When Aunty Jacinta asks, don’t be afraid to say what you need. Otherwise you’ll end up with 4 lunchbags or pencil cases.
If you do end up with loads of extra stationery sets or twistables, it’s a good thing. Children LOSE EVERYTHING! That lovely full pencil case won’t be full by midterm. I have a “stockbox” with all the extra sharpeners and rulers and crayons that they get and as the school year goes on, trust me, it’s a life saver. And only put what they need into the pencil case in September. Add to it then as they need.
- New school bag?
Considering that our kids were only in school until March, you might find that the school bag is still in good nick. Again, if it’s not done, why buy a new one. My eldest’s bag is as good as new from last year. (A few new Harry Potter badges on it and woohoo!)
She’ll get a few more months out of it. There really is nothing wrong with the bag she has. And if and when it IS done, then I’ll get her a new one. Again, schoolbags are in shops all year roun
- Leave shoes til last –
If your kids are anything like mine, they like to jump two shoe sizes in the space of a week. Shoes will be measured and bought the week before school opens.
- Labels –
This is something I do buy happily. The sticky labels are brilliant. There are LOADS of different companies and they go on everything and STAY on everything. And as they get older, you have to label fewer things, so you’ll find that you won’t need to buy them every year.
In Junior infants, label everything. I stopped short of putting one on her forehead. You can now get the labels that have little symbols for allergies or medical conditions on them too.
- Jumpers/crests –
If your kids go to a school with a crested uniform, remember that you can buy a jumper anywhere and have the label embroidered. My girls prefer lighter jumpers than the ones available, so I buy them and get the crest put on. It’s half the price and they’re perfect.
For many, the idea of not buying everything new is weird. As with everything, it’s YOUR call.
If you couldn’t imagine sending them back with the same schoolbag or lunchbag or whatever, that’s your call. But it’s not always a possibility for everyone.
For me, I don’t see the harm in teaching them that they get new when it’s needed. I’ve had the same “schoolbag” for almost 20 years. (OK it’s sentimental at this point, but still. It’s still doing the job!) And while of course it’s lovely to get new things, who says that everything has to be new in September each year?
Back to school costs a fortune. But it can cost less if we remove ourselves from the notion that they need new everything.
We all love a good hack! Especially when it helps save a few pennies.
If you have any tips to add, please share in the comments.