13 back to school tips for busy parents

    Two schoolchildren standing at school gate
    Credit: iStock

    For many parents, preparing to get their children back into the classroom can be a stressful time as they attempt to complete a long list of chores, from buying new uniform to getting children ready for the early mornings. But it needn’t be that way!

    To avoid any undue stress and anxiety, these 13 tips from name label company My Nametags are sure to get you organised and ready to take on the back to school mayhem.

    1. Avoid lunchtime shopping at all costs

    Between midday and 2pm is the busiest time for UK shops, so if you want to avoid the masses – and subsequent queues – pick up your back to school supplies first thing or late afternoon. Many shops offer Sunday ‘browsing time’ where the doors open half an hour before the tills. Take advantage of this quiet period by going early to try on new uniform, so when the tills open you’re ready to quickly pay and go.

    2. Calm nerves with floral perfume

    The first day of school can be full of nerves and excitement for both children and parents. According to research, the sweet smell of jasmine is great at calming the nerves and has long been used as a natural remedy to improve mood, overcome stress and balance hormones. Spritz a small amount on the collar of your child’s school shirt to put them at ease on the big day.

    3. Avoid morning rush hour

    By leaving the packed lunches, school bags, forms and everything else until the morning itself, you’re setting yourself up for a fall. Prepare the night before and put everything you need by the front door – getting the day off to a calm and organised start.

    4. Invest in net washing bags

    If you’ve got more than one child, you’ll know how long it can take to sift through mountains of laundry trying to figure out which items of clothing belong to who. Costing just a few pounds, net washing bags will keep uniform together throughout the washing process, so you can spend less time hunting for rogue socks or sorting school shirts, and more time on the important things.

    5. Banish pen with hairspray

    Stop stains appearing in the first place by spraying uniforms with a fabric protector before they’re first worn or, if it’s too late, use ingredients from your kitchen and bathroom cupboards to tackle tough stains. Hairspray works wonders on biro, while Coca Cola removes grease and dirt. For grass stains, mix vinegar and baking soda and apply to the stain with an old toothbrush for effective results.

    6. Don’t waste time sewing on name tags

    During term time, children lose up to seven items per month at school – most commonly jumpers, school books, stationery, their socks and toys. Sewing on name tags to help prevent this issue can be a time-consuming task, which is why My Nametags customers choose stick-on or iron-on name tags that can be used on everything from shoes and clothes, to stationery and sports equipment.

    READ MORE: How important is outdoor education at school?

    7. Freeze lunch

    Most fruit, vegetables and sandwich fillings, such as cheese, ham and eggs, can be frozen for up to six months. Parents can shave time off the frantic morning routine by making packed lunches in batches and freezing them. The sandwiches then act as an ice pack in the lunch box until midday, when they will have thawed out.

    8. Make a front door checklist

    Put a list on the front door of all the essentials needed on each day – things like water bottles’; ‘Monday – PE kits’; ‘Wednesday – reading book’; ‘Friday – class bear’. It’s the last thing you see before you leave the house so the perfect place for a final reminder. Post-it notes are your friend!

    9. Give leather shoes a blow dry

    Brand new leather school shoes can lead to painful blisters if they’re not properly broken in. If time is short before the first day of school, put the new shoes and a chunky pair of socks on your child’s feet and use a hairdryer to blow heat over the leather for 20 to 30 seconds. Ask them to walk around the room to loosen the material; this prevents blisters and sore feet during those first days back.

    10. Don’t overspend on branded uniform

    Check with your school whether the school logo needs to be on every item of clothing. Many schools are flexible with these rules and realistic about the cost of uniform, only insisting that the correct colours with logos are worn for official occasions. Buy multipacks of t-shirts, shirts and jumpers and have one for every day of the week so you don’t have to do laundry mid-week. Similarly, don’t dismiss second hand uniform sales – you’d be amazed how quickly kids grow out of their uniforms and how many unworn pairs of trousers or new school jumpers you can pick up.

    11. Put boxes by the front door

    Put boxes near the door with everything you need before you leave the house and for kids to dump their stuff when they return. In the summer, you’ll need sun cream, sunhats and sunglasses, whereas in the winter, don’t forget hats, scarves, gloves and wellies. This will stop you running around in the morning looking for the essentials!

    12. Laminate child-friendly lists

    Write a list of everything your children need to do before they leave the house and laminate it, then let them cross off each one with a whiteboard marker as they are getting ready. If they can’t read yet, show each task using a picture. This gives children the skills to help themselves and learn about responsibility, whilst giving you a break.

    13. Talk to other parents

    WhatsApp parent groups can be a life saver as there’s always something you won’t remember or understand. Asking the parents in your class can be one of the quickest ways to get peace of mind, and moral support. By communicating with other parents regularly, you’ll make sure your child never turns up in uniform on fancy dress day, or forgets their money for the charity cake sale.

    READ MORE: Choosing a prep school for your child


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