Back to School Tips January 07 2019 1 Comment

It seems that once we finally relax into school holiday mode and allow our days (and mind) to move more slowly, you have to start thinking about back to school. I am normally a last minute person but with four boys now at school, I have learnt the hard way and now know that a little bit of planning and foresight can save you time and ensure an easy transition for the back at school period.

Dealing with your children’s emotions is one thing, especially if they’re starting school for the first time, or moving to a new school. It is a big adjustment even for the most experienced child, so my advice is to get all of the other logistical challenges ticked off your list early. This includes school uniforms, good shoes and of course the long list of books and stationery items. 

Then there is the fun stuff that children love to be involved with and this can be used to help build excitement towards the new school year. I haven’t met a child yet who doesn’t love to shop for their own new pencil case, stationery, lunch box and other items they make you think are essential (like smelly pencils and a million cute key rings and tags to hang off their school bag). With most schools having a set uniform, this is where kids can add some of their own personality to their ensemble, as well as creating a form of security blanket and connection to home. 

Starting a new school year is daunting for all. Everything seems new and much of how the day pans out appears out of their control, so knowing that they have their own special things from home really can make a difference. It’s not just glittery key rings and extravagant pencil cases to them, it is part of their identity, a talking point with new friends and a source of familiarity and comfort. 

Our favourite place to go for stationery is Officeworks. It’s an easy one stop shop for me where I can contain four overly excited boys in one space with everything we need at our finger tips. The key point here being OVERLY EXCITED! Giving them free reign to shop for their own stuff is a source of great joy to them and to be honest, fun to watch. 

However, the shopping trip can quickly be diverted to supplies not on the essential school list and no Mum wants to spend an extra ten minutes while their child decides between the lilac glitter or the mauve sparkle lunch box (apparently there is a difference!) So here is my TIP and new favourite time (and sanity) saver - CLICK AND COLLECT!

My entire Christmas list was made easy by late night online shopping, followed by quick trips in and out of retailers to ‘click and collect’. You know the items are in stock and you’ve already paid online, so there’s no credit card decline at the counter either! With the back to school supply list, you don't want to get the essential books wrong or find them out of stock at the last minute (me for several years!) as this not only adds to your own job list, but more importantly the children’s stress of starting the year without all of the mandatories. 

So my tip, is to get online early and order all of the main stationery items you need from Officeworks, lock them in and then when you go to collect, this is where you can have the fun! You can then let the kids guide the shopping trip while you rest easy knowing that everything you need is already boxed up and waiting for you. Your full attention can be given to watching them search EVERY single pencil case before they choose their 2019 favourite and then have a focussed discussion on the merits of glitter glue versus blu glue. So it’s a win win, you can blissfully feel like the most organised Mum in the class, while your child grows more excited about the year ahead. 

Onto my second BIG TIP. Most of the school books will need covering. The thought of this will either send a nauseous wave through your body, or if you have a perfectionist streak you may be excited by the challenge. Personally with four school children and a long to do list, short cuts and Mum hacks are my best friend. A few years ago a wise Flat Out Mum with older children let me in on a little secret - clear book covers from Officeworks. They come in all sizes and take about 3 seconds to cover your books! Hallelujah!! The smallest size is only 49 cents and they’re made of durable PVC so you can use them year after year. How’s that for reduce, reuse, recycle? Hours of your time can be omitted from your last minute prep by checking them out here.

If you don’t mind contacting some of the books, I will admit it is a fun way for your kids to personalise them. Not only with the wide variety of contact patterns available, but with the range of stickers and name labels afterwards. I’d advise watching this 2 minute video first to save yourself hours of time when contacting your books.

When you are just getting over the Christmas excess, I know everyone is looking for ways to save money. Officeworks guarantees every day low prices on book listed items with their ‘Parents Price Promise - if you find an identical stocked item on a quoted school list at a lower price, Officeworks will BEAT it by 20%. Now there is peace of mind for you. If you don’t want to click and collect, they also offer FREE same day delivery on orders over $55, AfterPay and ZipPay (instore and online) as well as extended trading hours at their 165 stores. So many great options to help save money in as many ways as possible.

So my final advice to Flat Out Mums at the start of the school year….be prepared, start early and put on your best poker face in front of your kids! Why wouldn’t they want to swap the lazy days of summer for the school yard? And remember, EVERY Mum is feeling the same feels. Like ducks on water, we appear to be gliding gracefully over the surface, calm and unruffled, when really our legs are madly paddling underneath!