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Child starting school for the first time? Read this

Getting ready to send your child off to primary school? Mumsnetters who've been there and labelled EVERYTHING share their top tips

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In the weeks before: get ahead of the game

Practice makes perfect

"Practise putting school uniform on at least once or twice a week before school starts. Practise putting PE kit on too, as most schools expect the children to dress themselves for PE."

You need to be in the zone

"Get into a routine of going to bed earlier and waking up by the alarm clock a week before."

Huddle up

"Ask if there is a parent or PTA facebook page or mailing list and join it. Our PTA page is great for asking for copies of homework and whether Mrs B's class needs to bring in wellies today."

Avoid the lost property bin of doom

"Label EVERYTHING. It WILL go missing. and even if you label it all you probably won't get it back anyway."

Liquidate your assets


"Start a coin jar for the endless number of times they will need 50p for the cake sale or £1 for a sponsored charity walk around the playground."

Chalk it up

"Put a chalkboard in the kitchen with a space for every day, clearly labelled with when PE kit needs to be taken in and who has activities after school."

The night before school starts

Prep lunchboxes like a pro

"Preparing lunchboxes has to be one of the most time-consuming and tedious morning tasks, so get as much of the work as possible done on a Sunday evening. Sandwiches can be made, wrapped and frozen; snacks like carrots, grapes and raisins can be prepped and put into individual plastic pots. You can even pre-slice an apple the evening before and put it back together, held in place with a rubber band, to stop it going brown."

Take breakfast orders

"Ask your kids what they want for breakfast the night before and put it in a bowl ready. I can't believe how long my two take to make a decision on what cereal they are having each morning (although perhaps that's my fault for buying more than one cereal at a time!)"

Double up

"Set two alarm clocks (one not reliant on mains electricity) as there will be a power cut at some point, believe me."

The first morning



"I got my partner to take our daughter in on the first day as I thought I would be too emotional and that would be unhelpful for her. It was a good decision!"

EVERY morning


"My biggest hack is having "time slots" for doing different tasks. For example, teeth brushed, face washed and hair brushed by 7.45. Dressed with shoes on by 8.00. Breakfast by 8.20, and out of the door by 8.30. By setting little mini goals, my kids are kept on track and don't dilly dally around when they should be getting ready!"

What's for lunch?


"I pin the school dinner menu to the kitchen door so I can check if she will eat it that day or if she will need a packed lunch."


"I sometimes buy easy on-the-run breakfasts like breakfast bars, fruit toast or cheese scones, so we can walk and eat."

No last minute dashes

"Set an alarm for 10 minutes before due to leave -  that's when they should put shoes on, jackets on etc."

After school

Pick up, drop out


"Reception children are exhausted and hungry after school, for at least the first half term in my experience. Feed them as soon as you get in or take a snack. And aim for a low key after school time."

Use an office trick

"Have an in-tray and out-tray by the front door (or boxes so they fit everything). It's the kids' jobs to empty their book bags when they get in and put letters, etc. in the in-tray. Then check at some point in the evening and put everything needed for the next day in the out-tray so it can be grabbed on the way out."

On-going maintenance

Snap and save

"Use your phone to take a photo of school letters as you get them. Then when you're rushing around in the morning trying to remember if today's a dress-up day or if they need 50p, you don't have to search for the relevant letter. It's already on your phone. (Unless you're like me and have probably also forgotten where you left your phone.)"

Incentivise training

"Make sure kids bring their PE kit every Monday morning and home on a Friday: this took some training and is linked to pocket money!"

And know this, disasters do and will happen

"Have a Mumsnet box of last resort.TM This should include spare school socks, the last grown out of/trashed pair of school shoes (for when the current ones mysteriously go missing, or only one is to be found), second hand tie, envelopes, pen and cash."

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Last updated: over 1 year ago