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NOW CLOSED Talk to Staples about Back to School and win one of 4 £50 Staples vouchers

(87 Posts)
TheOtherHelenMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 21-Aug-12 12:41:28

Staples, the world's largest office products company, wants to find out how parents tackle the Back to School period. They're running a quiz on their website where you can find out what type of 'Back to School' parent you are - please click here to take part. Everyone who takes part in the quiz will win a prize at the end - prizes include stationery for the kids and family days out.

Staples would also like to hear your thoughts on how you cope with the busy Back to School period. Are you 100% organised, with everything your DCs need for going back to school ready and packed the night before they go back? Or are you flying around in a blind panic on the first morning of school looking for their PE kit?! Do you have a DC starting at secondary school this Sept? If so, has that changed how you're preparing for Back to School at all? Do you have any pearls of wisdom to share on preparing for the move to 'big' school?

Share your top tips, advice and stories here and the best 4 comments will win a £50 Staples voucher to spend on Back to School essentials.

Thanks and good luck with the prize draw!
MNHQ

TaggieCampbellBlack Tue 21-Aug-12 12:50:40

Top Tip...

wine

Tee2072 Tue 21-Aug-12 12:53:48

I took the quiz, I'm apparently organized, but I'm disappointed the voucher at the end can't be used online. I can't think of a single Staples anywhere near me!

This year is our first and is very easy as it's just preschool. All we needed to buy was his uniform which I bought ages ago.

I imagine I'll be organized though, just as the quiz said, as I usually am!

Coca Tue 21-Aug-12 13:01:10

We dedicate a day very close to the beginning of term when we buy everything, name everything and pack bags. It gets the dcs excited about going back to school and things manage to look new/clean etc for a couple of days into term!

CMOTDibbler Tue 21-Aug-12 13:03:58

My top tip is to sit down with the school calendar and the adults of the households phones and put in all the dates now. And if the school don't tell you when the christmas concert etc are at the beginning of term, ask them. Getting time off to do all these things is much easier 8 weeks ahead.
Parties also go in the phones with all details and contact no.

I have a secret stash of school socks and tie for those mornings when they have disappeared entirely, but dh knows nothing of this grin

ouryve Tue 21-Aug-12 13:31:24

We honestly don't stress about it. The kids are in primary school so the main thing they need is uniform, which we buy year round as needed.

Flisspaps Tue 21-Aug-12 13:50:09

Back to school starts too soon. Everywhere gets the stuff out mid July before the year even ends. Wish they'd all wait until August at least.

babster Tue 21-Aug-12 13:50:37

I made a list at the end of term of everything that was too small/shabby. I just happened to be out shopping the first day of the holidays and bought most of my back to school kit then (whilst they still had everything in stock and in every size - smug, moi?). Shoes are left until nearer the end of the holidays though, as it's an expensive mistake to make if the kids have a growth spurt (bitter experience).

gazzalw Tue 21-Aug-12 13:55:39

The teachers at DS's new school suggested that the biggest 'blip' to adapting to secondary school is one's child's organisational skills (or lack of them). Parents need to take a leaf out of the same book and plan, plan, plan.

Best advice for starting at secondary school is to be methodical from the off. When you get all the parental paperwork concerning your DC starting , (which is usually March/April/May time), put aside an evening (as soon after you've received the paperwork as possible) and plough through it systematically, filling in forms as appropriate, marking dates in diaries, booking uniform fitting slot (if appropriate), entering important contact details/numbers for school into your mobile/table, writing a list (which you then keep with you) of all the extras that your DC will need and clarifying anything with the school that you don't quite understand (this will prevent a last minute panic during the summer hols when it is likely there will be no school personnel around to answer your query!).

Given that you know in advance when your child will be transferring to secondary school, it is wise and sensible to budget so that the family coffers don't have to be plundered over the summer hols (not pleasant to find oneself having to economise on family trips because uniform has to be bought!). Even some of the state uniforms and associated school kit can cost up to £300 (or more in some cases), so it is worth putting aside some money over the previous year to cover costs. It is just one thing fewer to have to worry about at what can be a stressful time for parents and child alike! Secondary schools are a lot more hardline about uniform being complete and it will be your child who takes the flack if you have not been organised enough to sort out what they need - saying "we ran out of money and couldn't afford to buy...." won't really cut it.

Buy everything before the summer holidays if possible when stocks are at their highest. DS had his uniform fitting in early July but because his PE kit has to be embroidered (as they have to be at all the other schools that particular outfitter stocks uniform for) it took until mid August before it was ready to be collected. You can therefore imagine that had we left it until late August to get his uniform a) they would probably be out of stock of lots of the basics and b) the full uniform wouldn't be ready for collection until after the school term has started.

Label all items of school uniform even the sports socks. DW has used up virtually all of DS's supply of CASH Labels but well worth it if it ensures his stray uniform bits get back to him.

And finally make sure that the planning includes trial runs on the school journeys there and back if they are going to have to use public transport. Again, it just alleviates another potential stressor for parents and child alike.

lisad123 Tue 21-Aug-12 15:05:18

As soon as you get to end of term, throw out or donate old uniform and list new stuff. All news letters put on calendar ASAP and put a list by front door of items needed each day so your kids can check they have everything themselves.

StellaAndFries Tue 21-Aug-12 16:02:57

I buy the school uniform, new shoes etc throughout the summer holidays as with 3 dc's in school this year I needed to spread the cost.

I use a permanent marker to write their names in rather than spending ages sewing in labels.

I write (and enjoy blush ) everyone's different activities and special dates in different coloured inks in a big diary which is on a stand in the kitchen as well as in a smaller diary which I carry in my handbag. Being different colours makes it easier to glance and see who needs what.

deepbreath Tue 21-Aug-12 17:11:43

When buying uniform, buy 3 (or more) of everything so you have one to wash, one to wear and one for spares.

Label everything. Even if your child seems unlikely to lose it, someone else may pick it up by mistake.

Check your child's school bag every evening for trip letters, newsletters etc.

Use the organiser on your mobile phone to remind you of any special days at school (eg, non uniform day, or bring a bottle for the church raffle - yes, they really do this at my dc's school!) so you don't forget.

If your child has any additional needs, ask to see the SENCO at the school for a meeting even if you think that it isn't necessary just now... it is better to keep the school well informed, and build a good working relationship with them early on.

jimmenycricket Tue 21-Aug-12 18:31:20

Buy two of every school gym outfit you need and accept with dignity the fact that they travel far and wide before making it home at the end of term (hopefully).

Also get a little notebook to carry on the school run - you will want to swap numbers/write things down because your brain turns to porridge in the rush to stop the children stampeding down the road.

janx Tue 21-Aug-12 18:34:57

Link doesn't work on iPhone app

LineRunner Tue 21-Aug-12 19:49:14

Maths is the language of god; school letters are the language of bureaucrats.

hOLYMolyPICSofteamGBwinning Tue 21-Aug-12 20:35:02

Relax, it will all be fine. The shops stock everything throughout the year so if they need stuff you can buy it as you go. Relaxed Mum equals relaxed kids.

I am trying to do the quz but keep getting question 1, won't go any further!

My daughter is now starting Year 11 so this is the last year I will be buying uniform in bulk!! YAY!!

I have always bought at least 5 polo shirts/blouses, and then over the years made sure she has 2 skirts, 2 pairs of trousers and try for 2 cardigans. I try to make a start on it early on in the holidays, bag shoes and stationary are the last things to get

missorinoco Tue 21-Aug-12 21:28:21

That was like those quizzes I did when i was thirteen in teenage magazines. Spectactularly black and white. Apparently I am a "No Worries Mother" who buys things last minute, despite buying almost everything before term ended. I supposed I am glad it didn't tell me I was anally retentive!

My tip - buy things earlier if you want choice - you can get hard wearing inexpensive clothes for uniform.

DON'T buy white school shirts if you have a choice and a mucky child.

The school sweatshirts and poloshirts may be more expensive but may also be very hard wearing. Worth asking around to see what they are like.

Label the clothes, they will go missing even if you do so, but you have an outside chance of finding them.

I only bought two jumpers initially as I wash twice daily; within two weeks I had doubled this and now have four of everything. You could get awaywith three if you have a tumble drier.

The only clothing item I have not bought yet is shoes - mine grow like beanpoles and I think it would be worth leaving til the end of summer rather than the start.

Hopezibah Tue 21-Aug-12 21:46:28

Usually would be the weekend before to make sure everything was prepared e.g. uniforms ready, and all the new bits and pieces (e.g. lunchboxes) in one place ready to use. About a week or two before would be checking school shoes and uniform and buying new as necessary. Then the night before would be preparing packed lunches and laying out uniform ready etc.

Top tip would simply be LISTS!!! I'm a big fan of lists for everything. Depending on kids ages, they can have their own checklists / reward charts for getting ready as that helps prepare them for knowing what they need to do.

MrsShrek3 Tue 21-Aug-12 23:57:26

We have a child with AS starting high school so everything's done and has been so since June blush We bought his final organisational item, a plastic "chest of drawers" with a different coloured drawer for each day, last week. Its to organise his books and stuff. That's everything finished, named, packed, yes even the schoolbag and PE kit (named, obv) blush only two weeks to go wink
My other two are also sorted, new bags and stationery etc. And uniform was bought in May/June as I was doing ds1's. They need some more organisation to have homework space, but we're getting there. Dd has a desk and a ton of pens and pencils in her room, ds2 will mainly use the family computer in dining room and ds1 is going to attend homework club.
PE kit is a nightmare with ds2, he loses it, regardless of what we put it in or how many name tags it has. He does a sports activity all but one evening during the week, requiring different kit for each and he drives me nuts. He's going to turn up at footie practice with nothing but a pair of goggles and towel, I can see it coming grin
Organising a child's stationery for high school is an absolute nightmare, I wish someone would come up with a list ofwhat they actually need !!

GetKnitted Wed 22-Aug-12 00:19:33

While getting 'stuff' is clearly necessary, the best preparation for big school is that your dd/ds is feeling as confident as possible. That might be helped by a good chat at the start of the day, a note in the pencil case, meeting up with a friend to walk in together, new trainers, old trainers, a promise that you will definitely not be playing awful music if you are picking up in the car... as many possibilities as there are children.

GetKnitted Wed 22-Aug-12 00:35:19

hmm that came out a bit stroppy... didn't mean to sound so self-righteous blush

My top tip is to keep all random stationery that enters the house in a big box, then when the DCs complain they have "nothing for school" you just direct them to the box.
We also put all school notices/calendars on a wall by the door, around the family calendar, so those little bits of paper don't get lost in piles on the table.
My DCs don't grow much, so I don't have school uniform to buy (I got 2 uniform product tests 2 years ago which are still a bit too big fine for this year).
I never buy new stationery for the start of term, but I put a few bits as stocking fillers and Easter hunt, so they have new stationery later in the year.

Hulababy Wed 22-Aug-12 10:03:35

No uniform here to buy fortunately. DD can go back in summer dresses and winter uniform not needed til half term unless gets v cold. Cardi already on order from school from July. Will get new skirts/blosues in October. New shoes bought May time and still fine, ditto trainers.

Teacher bought the class new pencil cases, pens, pencils, ruler, compass, protractor, etc at end of school year so that is all sorted too smile

PE was washed at beginning of the holidays and all back in PE bag ready for start of term.

moomoo1967 Wed 22-Aug-12 10:22:51

I am trying to do the quiz but it just keeps taking me back to Q1 ? anyone else had this problem ?

CMOTDibbler Wed 22-Aug-12 11:30:12

It does that to me too moomoo

GetKnitted Wed 22-Aug-12 16:37:18

moomoo annd CMOT It did that for me in interntet explorer but not in firefox. Try another browser maybe?

asuwere Wed 22-Aug-12 19:36:25

I tend to get stuff/replace stuff as is needed during the year so don't really have a big 'back to school' shopping need. When DS1 first started school, my mum took him to get his school bag and pencil case but he didn't really need much, he liked the trip and choosing stuff. He's not really bothered now though - so long as he's got what he needs, he's fine.

Everything is labelled as it's bought - usually just using laundry marker/sharpie pen rather than actual labels.

I guess we are quite organised but it makes it easier if the child co-operates and makes sure their PE kit is put in washing machine when brought home and bags are put in the right place so I can fill them with lunch/clean PE kit etc. DS1 is very good at telling me when he has notes so although I do check his bag, I can usually rely on him to remind me if there is something to be checked/returned. (sadly DS3 isn't quite so reliable!)

jimswifein1964 Thu 23-Aug-12 08:24:11

Well, I've just done the quiz but it didnt warn me I would need to print off a voucher - no printer, so that was a waste of time sad & I cant use the voucher online. The nearest Staples to me is inaccessible by public transport.

gazzalw Thu 23-Aug-12 12:06:34

I didn't even register a voucher - assumed I would get something in my email 'in box' - hmmmm!

moomoo1967 Thu 23-Aug-12 12:49:59

hmmm ok I cannot download another browser on my work pc and my laptop is knackered. I will try it on my phone later

ShatnersBassoon Thu 23-Aug-12 14:51:24

Back to school is a relaxed time. I buy things throughout the year, so there's no huge shopping expedition in the last week in August. The only stressful part of starting a new school year is the shoe shop.

nickiminja Thu 23-Aug-12 16:47:21

My top tip is NOT be organised and buy uniform at the start of the holidays when everything is in stock, because when you go to sew name tapes in 6 weeks later your son might have put on an inch around his waist so you have to buy more trousers..

nicki not a problem for my DCs, it's more a case of taking the button elastic another notch in on last year or the one before 's trousers after they've run off all their term time "weight" in the holidays. I swear my DCs shrink over the summer confused.

Well for the first and last time I am considered an "AlphaMum" . grin

I don't know how that's even possible. I leave all school shopping until the last week of the holidays and I am seriously disorganised!

LemarchandsBox Thu 23-Aug-12 18:58:06

Should be Back to School Parents.

Why should it be targeted at 'Mums'?

DH takes DS stationery shopping.

HannahLI Thu 23-Aug-12 18:58:36

I tried the quiz but I think it got me a bit wrong as despite being laid back I am very organized too.

My top tip is to get your kids involved in the buying, sorting and putting it ready. If they have ownership it's empowering for them and they take more responsibility for it. It also means you have less to worry about.

Bongaloo Thu 23-Aug-12 21:29:49

Envelopes!
Make sure you've got a load of cheap little envelopes for all the times the school are going to spring it on you that they need money for such and such.

androbbob Thu 23-Aug-12 21:44:16

I second the envelopes! You can get little brown ones for school from stationery shops and they are great for lunch and trip and snack money

gazzalw Fri 24-Aug-12 06:56:29

Ha the envelopes issue always really annoys us in this house- it seems to fly in the face of all our recycling efforts. Have considered suggesting to school that they issue each child with one of those 'internal memo' envelopes and then it could just shuttle backwards and forwards twixt school and home!

seeker Fri 24-Aug-12 07:11:31

Don't buy envelopes- get some sticky labels (lots of charities sell recycled ones) and reuse. You just have to remember to slit letters open at the top and keep the envelopes.

moomoo1967 Fri 24-Aug-12 10:31:12

ok so managed to complete the quiz but no button to click on to claim my prize, unless it is the FB or Twitter icon in which case it won't let me as we cannot access those social sites at work

insanityscratching Fri 24-Aug-12 12:55:21

I buy uniform in the sales throughout the year so manage to avoid the stress in August, unfortunately can't avoid the shoe shopping but go either for 8.45am or 5.15pm which cuts down the waiting time considerably.
I buy multipacks of stationery basics and keep those at home to refill pencil cases when they have lost the others but also give the children a fiver for them to spend on themed stationery as I know it's important to them.
I label everything and nag the children when they come out of class to ensure they have everything as anything left overnight disappears.

Blu Fri 24-Aug-12 14:31:40

My best top tip? Get a dad to take some responsibility for getting DCs kitted out.

Unless you are a single female parent or in a two Mum family there is no need for this to be a 'Mums' thing!!!! DP is in charge of aquiring kit - I think the Staples quiz would reveal him to be 'Organised Mum' hmm

I have sacrificed my chance of a voucher in the cause of equality and co-parenting grin :martydom icon:

moonbells Fri 24-Aug-12 15:00:19

I had trouble with not getting off Qu 1 as well, and I was on Firefox. switched to IE and it was fine.

The questions about what to buy were a bit irrelevant to me since DS's new school (he's YR) specifies everything. Even to the size of the Pritt stick. He doesn't need colouring pencils till next year, apparently!

But I would order stuff early on if it needs to come from an official supplier. I'm still waiting (>3 weeks now, with 10d to go) for PE kit shirts. I'm starting to panic a bit. Glad I kept the itemised receipts...

Shoes: if you have a shooting beanstalk like me, and want to get shoes as late as possible so you have a chance of them lasting more than 6 weeks, leave at least a week for the shoe shop to order in the ones you want because it doesn't matter what you do, they've never got them... and book an appointment.

<goes off to take own advice>

Doobydoo Fri 24-Aug-12 15:45:33

Cannot fill survey in!
Ridiculous questions about being 'one step ahead'...'only the best etc' am very hmm about it.

prettybird Fri 24-Aug-12 17:24:02

Label/mark a "hidden" part of the more expensive items of clothing (inside of a pocket, the hood, the hem...) so that if the item -- gets stolen-- is mislaid is picked up by accident, then you can say where to look to check if it is your child's.

This is more effective at primary schools where the staff are usually more helpful about looking for missing items of clothing

prettybird Fri 24-Aug-12 18:04:55

My "prize" of a "Back to School" bundle refused to print off (you needed to "show the page in order to be able to "claim the prize")and now the web page says "Server Error in '/' Application.

Object reference not set to an instance of an object.

Description: An unhandled exception occurred during the execution of the current web request. Please review the stack trace for more information about the error and where it originated in the code. "

hmm

I'm a Stingey Thrifty Mum apparently blush

I love a 'bargain' but wouldn't say I'm particularly thrifty so my Top Tip would be don't do as I do buy what you actually need! grin

choccyp1g Fri 24-Aug-12 19:48:58

My top tip won't work for everyone, but if your secondary school offers a £25.00 pack of "everything you need", buy it.
Ours has calculator, pencils, crayons, rule, compass etc. etc, dictionary and thesaurus combined (It's brilliant, has the dictionary definitions ant the top and the thesaurus alternatives at the bottom of each page), sketch book, and much more, and it works out much cheaper than getting all the bits from Staples or any other high street store.

However I still want to win the voucher and spend it all on arty stuff for myself.

bubby64 Fri 24-Aug-12 21:57:14

I have a set of stationary, ruler, pencils pens, geometry set, dictionary etc at home for homework use, as I could guarantee one or other of my DS would say "I can't do my homework because I have left such'n such at school! I have twins about to start High School, so I have had to be very organised this year, and, to spread the substantial cost of this, i started buying bits and pieces in March!!
I have a weeks worth of shirts each, two jumpers and two pairs of trousers, which I hope will do, I can only afford one sports kit each, so that will have to do as well.
We have had a "trial run" for the bus journey, and going several different routes just in case.

bubby64 it's "stationery" not "stationAry" (unless it doesn't move) <scuttles back to pedants' corner>

SirBoobAlot Sat 25-Aug-12 10:40:50

I like to be organised with regard to this if nothing else. DS's bag has been packed since we broke up for the holidays with all the new things in it blush His lunch box is (empty, obviously!!) clean and waiting next to it. The money I use for taxis in the mornings (due to disability) for the first week is already separate in a drawer.

The only thing left to do is go and get his feet measured, but I think they're okay. Clothes are all sorted.

Did it early so didn't have to panic during the holidays when everyone else is.

BodyOfEeyore Sat 25-Aug-12 11:05:21

How annoying that you have to print off a voucher. Grrrr. No printer.

I think it is best to avoid character stationery because the crazes come and go so quickly and you'll only end up replacing things.

SirBoobAlot Sat 25-Aug-12 11:07:49

No printer here either, grr.

Snog Sat 25-Aug-12 19:42:58

Link doesn't work for me - is this now closed?

The only tip I would offer is uniform shopping seems to be easier with more choice the earlier you do it. New uniform was purchased, named, ironed and hung in the wardrobe as school broke up here.

I always buy a uniform for each day at the start of year as I never have them all or all in tact by the time the school year ends.

The only tip I would offer is uniform shopping seems to be easier with more choice the earlier you do it. New uniform was purchased, named, ironed and hung in the wardrobe as school broke up here.

I always buy a uniform for each day at the start of year as I never have them all or all in tact by the time the school year ends.

Coprolite Sun 26-Aug-12 14:02:41

I haven't unpacked the bags of all the detritus from the end of term yet.

Despite that I will be organised the night before so everything is ready and newly polished shoes by the door. I don't like to spend the whole holidays preparing for going back - just want to chill and enjoy them!

But the next few days will be busy....

My top tip is to focus purely on organising the kids for going back to school now.
The fact that my front room now resembles a land fill site can be addressed once they are back at school and not messing it up the millisecond you move on to the next room to tidy up (grrr!)

lorisparkle Sun 26-Aug-12 22:04:47

Top tips..

Label everything - I use sew on labels especially for key items as pens wash off in the end and iron on ones never stay put. I also write the size again on the label with a permanent pen on the label wears off and if you have more than one child you have to play 'guess the size' when passing down clothes

Each child has their own coloured pen which I use to write notes in the diary - I try to write all the details down not just a few words as in a couple of weeks the invitation has disappeared and the words 'Bob's party' does not really help when you don't know where it is or when it is

Don't leave buying shoes too late as the queues in Clarks is an absolute nightmare - buying 3 pairs of winter shoes for 3 DC under 6yrs is no fun when you are behind a dozen or so other families

Do any homework as soon as possible - never leave it as the time will never come and it is likely to be forgotten

Check book bags and deal with contents as soon as DC come home.

Answer invitations when they arrive and write in diary as above

MrsPnut Mon 27-Aug-12 08:09:01

I bought bits and pieces before school broke up, DD1 is 15 and so was unlikely to grow much during the holidays meaning all her uniform was bought in July.

DD2's was bought at the beginning of August and her shoes were bought on a wednesday lunchtime at Brantano meaning we were in and out within 15 minutes.

I still have to buy DD1 some shoes and a bag and I know they will be the most stressful items of the whole lot due to a conflict between what she wants and what the school rules state.

kid Mon 27-Aug-12 21:13:23

DS went on a lot of school trips last year. To make sure I knew exactly when and where he was going, I put the trip letters in oreder on the fridge with a magnet. Once he had been on the trip, I threw the letter away. I also wrote on the top of the letter in big letters whether he needs a packed lunch or not as there is nothing worse than having to try and create a packed lunch with limited supplies on the morning of the trip.

ScorpionQueen Mon 27-Aug-12 22:56:58

Both DDs have their bags packed already, we pack as we buy stationary.

Uniforms have been bought and labelled.

They have lunch money for the first few days to help me get into the swing of things.

I get DH to write all of his shifts on the calender and I write in inset days, holidays etc. to help us become more organised.

My absolute top tip is to know what day they actually go back, as the dates have changed for DD's school, when they cancelled an inset but didn't actually send a letter out.

starfishmummy Tue 28-Aug-12 08:06:35

I pin a copy of ds's timetable to my noticeboard. This means that if stuff needs to be organised/sent in, (like swimming kit) I will know when it is needed.

I use bright coloured envelopes for all money that has to go into school so that it doesn't get lost at the bottom of ds's bag. One teacher was hopeless and always mislaying monies sent in, so i got into the habit of sending all dinner money and trip money by cheque so that when it was re - requested I could stop the original cheque! (she obviously found them all during an end of year tidy up as a whole load were returned to me!)

TheTempest Tue 28-Aug-12 09:16:14

Umm mine is a mixture of blind luck and panic. I have 3 DSC and a DD and I work full time, if I manage to get everywhere at the right time with the right equipment I count it a success!!

MrsWeasley Tue 28-Aug-12 18:53:26

As soon as I know dates for trips, events, music lessons, payment instalments etc it all goes in my calendar with reminders set for eat day. So on a Monday morning I get a message reminding me that DD has a music lesson and DS has football club etc. Reminders for letters ti be handed in has a reminder of the day(or 2) before and again on the day that's to remind me to complete them and then a reminder for DC to hand them in. Its a system that's been good for a couple of years and 4 DCs.

Children are responsible for packing their own bags daily they get into more treouble if they say 'm mum forgot it'.

dearprudence Tue 28-Aug-12 23:38:49

That survey is bonkers - really odd answers. And they have me as a 'no worries mum' even though I buy everything early and get organised before terms starts!

My tip is to get school uniform and shoes at the beginning of the holidays - all the sizes are still in stock, and it doesn't spoil that special holiday feeling for the children. Then get the more interesting stuff like stationery and schoolbags at the end, so the child can look forward to using it all.

YohoAhoy Wed 29-Aug-12 07:58:28

Definitely agree with entering everything onto calendar as soon as letter arrives. Actual letter then gets pinned to kitchen noticeboard until event has taken place.

I always do uniform etc shopping in second to last week of summer holidays. Late enough that they hopefully won't have grown out of it before going back to school grin but early enough to avoid the uniform death-mobs.

cheryl59 Wed 29-Aug-12 09:51:16

I'm a Thrifty Mum apparently (which is probably right as I got excited about winning an eco bag !! lol)

My top tip is buy everything in double and keep one in reserve - it all gets used throughout the year and saves last minute Sunday night panics when they suddenly announce they've run out of glue/lost their ruler/their calculator has broken

sausagewallet Wed 29-Aug-12 11:54:13

I'm a no worries mum! Despite spending the last few days in a blind panic because I left uniform shopping until the very last minute. I've had to order DSs jumpers in 'cos the shop was out of stock, and they won't be in until after they go back, aaaargh!

Anyway, my tip is to buy cheap trousers (£3 Tescos) in the size they need now, and the next size up. No hemming! [Lazy person emoticon]

MrsJohnDeere Wed 29-Aug-12 12:18:57

Apparently I'm an organised mum (if only......)

Couldn't be bothered to claim the crappy pencil case prize though

Elainey1609 Wed 29-Aug-12 12:46:31

Well done the quiz and im a thrifty mum...dissapointed with prize as you cant use online and no staples near me which is a shame.

I buy things for children from beginning of holiday, little bits here and there when i have the money or see a good offer. I also go to boot fairs and try and get bits there.

Also at home we have a tin with all stationary that can be used whenever.
i try not to buy then new stuff if they really dont need it
Pe kit is the thing lost post of time...dont know how they do it even when i put labels in everything ...so buy cheepest as know we wont own it for long...

Uniform i order and buy throughout year to spread the cost

The children organise all there stuff for school week before they go back

We have a family calender stuck on a noitceborad which everyone writes details on and sticks letters and reminders which helps us stay organised

im quite lucky as mine my the end of holiday are really looking forward to going back to school so help me sort all there stuff out

popperdoodles Wed 29-Aug-12 13:52:14

I try to spread the cost throughout the year. They only get new stuff when they need it especaily school shoes. With 3 to buy for I try to stagger it. Ds1 had new shoes this hols but ds2 and ds3 are still ok so will wait. Stationary is only needed by DS1, other 2 still in primary. I tend to get most things from poundland or supermarket. Few bits have spent more on and hope they will last him such as a nice calculator, proper maths set and nice art pencils, bought all those last summer and they are all still fine for this year and beyond I hope.
DS1 is nearly 13 and I remember the pressure at that age to have the latest branded stuff for school. Luckily his school has a really strict uniform policy and he's not really fussed about things yet. His PE trainers are a random brand but tbh he doesn't care which is great.
The only thing that bugs me is when schools put lots of things on the uniform list which the kids never use. Rugby top was one of them. He didn't even wear it when they played rugby!!

StellaMarie Thu 30-Aug-12 14:10:27

The back to school period doesn't need to be busy or full of panic as long as you are organised. I spend a maximum of 2 days getting everything together and ready including buying shoes etc. I have a ready stash of stationery supplies which I top up regularly throughout the year when i see offers available. The PE bags were sorted and packed up again at the beginning of the holidays.

When we get in from school the first job is to unpack the bags and then get the bag ready for the next day. Each child is responsible for their own bag and its contents. The more they procrastinate on sorting the bag the longer they have to wait to play etc so the incentive is there to get it done.

On swimming and scouts nights they eat a school lunch or a heartier packed lunch so evening meal is more snacky and quicker. Or I batch cook things and use from the freezer as required.

Moving to secondary school should not be made a big deal of, in my experience this panics children more. My best tip is to get your child prepared by showing them how to organise themselves. Keep a separate notebook to write reminders and encourage them to use a diary to keep a check on when homework is due and tests are to be studied for. If they are organised then it's one less thing for them to worry about when moving to a new environment.

weblette Thu 30-Aug-12 16:47:09

I always do shoes/uniform in the last half-term before the holidays start, it's much quieter and there's usually every size in stock. They won't grow that much in six weeks!

For stationery I buy everything in France - we're there every Summer and their supplies are amazing - you buy everything you need for the whole year at the start of the Autumn term. Great prices, fab choice and it's a bit different.

When dd started Yr7 last year we followed the same routine as usual so didn't have to do the last minute panic.

DS1 is going into yr2 but before they broke up I asked what topic they would be learning after the hols and have got a few books from the library for him to read, he loves to read!
I have got a wipeable wall calendar for him so we can write p.e. days, after school clubs other events, we were given the school calendar for the year relevent dates have been hilighted and its pinned up on the board.
uniform is labelled and p.e. bag packed, his shoes are polished and lined up ready for wednesday morning.
I'm also another fan of the little brown envelopes!

I don't buy new shoes and uniform until the end of the holidays because my DC grow at a rate <must stop feeding them so much>, so pretty pointless to have new shoes that don't fit.

We have a shared calendar on the computer for me, OH, and the GPs - at the beginning of the year the school sends out the dates for the year, and I fill them all in the calendar so that everyone knows when half term, concerts, nativities etc are happening.

iamnotinterestedinyourkids Fri 31-Aug-12 14:08:19

as a teacher - PLEASE buy secondary school kids those book covers. Are cheap and great for keeping worksheets in at the back of yourbooks

randomfennel Fri 31-Aug-12 21:31:55

I'm a No Worries Mum :-). Though we have everything bought and sort of ready, but I don't spend my life worrying about it. Am disappointed to only win a pencil case, they should match the prizes to the type of parent. No worries parents should get the Merlin fun pass, don't you think?

dd is starting secondary, but she has already packed her pencil case etc, back in July I think. and repacked it this week. She's keen.

zipzap Sat 01-Sep-12 00:51:38

When school send home a list with any dates or letters with any important information on, I always take a picture of it with my phone as well as trying to remember to enter the dates on my calendar (with a column for each member of the family plus one for general stuff), in my diary and on dh's calendar. That way if you need to refer to it or look up dates you usually have your phone with you to check on the info, rather than needing to find the piece of paper which has usually disappeared regardless of how organised you try to be with them.

I always try to have everything ready for each child the night before - they are in different schools. I have a big bag for each of them (the sort of jute or recycled plastic ones that they have in supermarkets) into which goes their school book bag and anything else (sports kit that comes home, library books, lunch money, jumper, etc) that needs to go into school. Shoes are put by the bag, coat on top.

Lunch bags are made up as far as possible the night before, even bits that need to be kept cold are done and left in the fridge ready to pop into the lunch bag in the morning. As soon as they are done (usually while the dc are eating their breakfast) the lunch bags are put into the big bags in the morning.

Then when it comes to going out in the morning, I only need to pick up one bag per child and not have lots - especially at the start of term when there are lots of bags going in so it is easy for one to get missed. I use the same bag when picking the child up so all their junk stuff can be thrown into one bag and I'm not left trying to hold onto armfuls of stuff and a toddler who likes to make a dash for freedom, I've just got one big bag to hold on to.

I use good laundry markers to mark clothes - and keep several dotted around the place so it is always easy to remark the clothes if the name looks like it is fading. I have one in each car, one on the landing windowsill near the airing cupboard, one hidden at the top of each child's wardrobe, one in my handbag, one in my kitchen 'everything useful' drawer and one in the keys drawer in the hall. <just realises that I have possibly got slightly carried away in getting laundry pens organised>. I also have sharpie marker pens in all those places (except the dc's wardrobes) in case I need to mark non-clothes things.

I buy a packet of cheap envelopes to send money or stuff back into school in. In a quiet moment I'll mark a few of them with dc's name and class, plus a few more will have name, class and lunch money written on them so that when I need one in a mad hurry after sleeping through the alarm clock again I can grab it and it will be ready. I also try to keep a biro ready with them so there is always one when needed, especially useful if filling in forms to be sent back to school.

xxxkadzxxx Sun 02-Sep-12 19:11:51

I think i am pretty organised when getting my children ready to go back to school, my top tips are:

1) Book a haircut for the kiddies at the beginning of the holidays ready for when they go back to school to make sure you can get an appointment.

2) Buy school uniform towards the end of the holiday to ensure A:you get the right size rather than your littlen growing out of them before they are back at school! B:some stores have reduced back to school items if you leave it until later in the holidays.

3)Make sure all their homework is done a couple of weeks before they go back to school.

4) Ensure you read with them daily if not every other day so they dont loose the routine.

5) Talk to them regularly about seeing their friends, this will not only excite them but will remind them they are going back soon as well.

6) Make sure you have a new school bag, pencil case and lunch box if needed and let the kids choose their own as it makes it all that more exciting to go back to school and use them!

7) Make sure the school bag is ready for the first morning back a couple of days before hand to give you time to add to if needed and avoid any morning panics!

8) It can always be hard getting back into the school morning routine after the summer holidays so make sure both you and the children have an early night, prepare their uniform and lunchboxes if needed and i always get the cereal and bowls out of the cupboard ready so there is no rushing around!

9) Always do your food shopping a few days before the day back at school so you dont have to worry about it among the other essentials which have to be done around that time. REMEMBER TO BUY LUNCHBOX items if required!

10) If your children are moving to primary school or high school, talk to them regularly to find out their emotions and how they are feeling. Thats the only way you can help to reassure them. Always talk positively to them and mention their friends who will be moving with them, and they are a big boy/girl now etc...!

11) Have a nice relaxing day to yourself and enjoy your first day back at school as well!

lagoonhaze Mon 03-Sep-12 07:13:56

Some great tips. Its only just hit me that its tomorrow my son starts school! No big deal though as he's been in full uniform for the past year in the nursery.

I'm going into school today to buy the P.E kit etc. What would be helpful is if the school were organised so I could plan ahead but no get given a day or two notice of things like sports days it trips unless we badger them!

lagoonhaze Mon 03-Sep-12 07:21:21

My top tip is to avoid Clarks and check out happy little soles. Better choice and shoes for similar prices!

zipzap Tue 04-Sep-12 00:07:29

Another one - is to set the alarm clock to school getting up time for a few days before going back to school and try to go to bed at 'school' time too for those few days.

Makes getting back into the swing of getting up early much less painful on the first morning of term if it's not a real shock to the system!

Also if your dc is going to a new school, a few days beforehand, go and park up near the school and explore the local area if it's not somewhere that you both know really well. Figure out where they need to go in and out of school, where you can park - in the 'proper' parking places as well as where the overflow is likely to end up and how to walk into school most safely from these places. Plus figure out the end of the day - if they need to be picked up from the playground or school door that's great. But if they need to walk out to meet you then figure out where to go, where's safe, what will happen if one of you is a bit late or if it is really bad weather etc etc. Much easier to do it when relatively few other people around than on the first day when there are hundreds of kids and parents rushing around and it can all be a bit overwhelming especially when the dc are younger.

chrisrobin Tue 04-Sep-12 08:44:57

If you buy second hand uniform from the school wait until the end of the second week of term. By then many of the parents who are donating clothes that no longer fit their children will have got round to sorting and giving them to the school, hence a bigger range to chose from.

hk78 Tue 04-Sep-12 18:04:51

1. Don't buy too early with anything that can be suddenly outgrown - shoes, trousers.
2. Keep secret stash of spares such as stationery, but don't tell 'em.
3. Re-use as much as possible <tightwad>
4. Secret stash of my own socks so that when they have been nicked on a schoolday morning, I don't have a panic.
5. Buy online to take advantage of offers like 3 for 2.

KatieBMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 06-Sep-12 15:01:08

Thanks to everyone for all your comments. Staples have chosen their favourite tips and the winners are:

gazzalw
xxxkadzxxx
zipzap
StellaMarie

Congratulations - I'll PM you for your details.

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