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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!

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:


Congratulations - I'll PM you for your details.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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!

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!

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.

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.

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

stickyLFDTfingers Fri 31-Aug-12 14:05:44

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.

justshootmenow Thu 30-Aug-12 23:02:20

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!

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.

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.

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!!

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 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

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

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]

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

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.

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.

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'.

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!!

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!)

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.

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