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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!

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

Top Tip...


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.

PurpleKittyKnitting Tue 21-Aug-12 21:21:01

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

InMySpareTime Wed 22-Aug-12 07:13:46

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 ?

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