On a hot summer’s day way back in July, Olivia stepped out through her school gates. Her first year of primary school was now behind her and she was excited about what lay ahead.
By that I am of course referring to her summer holiday – 6 long weeks of long, lazy summer days stretching out in front of her.
Six weeks to a young child can seem like an infinitely long time. And I must admit that I got caught up in it too. I allowed myself to think that we had all the time in the world before we had to think about school once more.
But now here we are with the start of a new academic year almost upon us.
Earlier this week I realised that I could not put the inevitable off any longer – I would need to spend a small fortune on new school uniform pieces.
Buying school uniform is no easy task. For my daughter I need:
- winter dress (at least one)
- skirt (again, at least one)
- shirts (at least 2, but 3 may be best)
- cardigan or jumper (must be branded)
- a PE kit (branded shorts and t-shirt plus plimsolls)
- tights (at least 3 pairs of woolly ones for winter)
- knee-high socks (at least 5 pairs)
- school shoes
- winter coat
I was hoping that most pieces would still fit from last year. Thankfully, all of her branded clothes (which must have the school logo sewn on) do.
There is nothing worse than trying to sew the badges on by hand, or queuing outside the one shop in the whole county that sells the clothes with the logos already on with 2 agitated children.
We had also thought ahead and bought Olivia a winter coat in the January sale this year. Another win.
So it’s just the dresses(es), skirt(s), shirts and shoes to go. Not as bad as I thought.
There are some good deals to be had on back-to-school clothes. The major supermarkets as well as discount stores like Matalan and other clothing retailers all stock their own so there’s a lot of choice.
Not wanting to drag my children around endless shops, fighting our way through the hoardes of people doing similar, I quickly turned to the internet.
It became my saviour, finding me some reasonably priced dresses, skirts and shirts for Olivia courtesy of Tesco’s F&F back-to-school range.
It just left the school shoes. The bit that I had been dreading the most.
When I had taken Olivia and William to buy school shoes last year, it had been a Saturday. The scene that greeted us in the shoe shop was one of chaos. The store assistants could barely keep order. You had to jostle to get seen and keeping hold of your own children was near-impossible.
This time I took them on a Wednesday. Mid-morning. I wasn’t sure what to expect.
We got to our local Clarks store and I was relieved to see only 2 other families there. I knew instantly this experience would be a lot more relaxed than last year.
After 15 minutes we left the store, new school shoes swinging in a bag at my side. Olivia was over the moon with her new shoes, although that’s mainly because they have lights in the heels that you can turn on and off at will. It’s the simple things that pleases them the most!
At more than £30, it was more than I would ideally like to spend, simply because children’s feet grow so fast. But, I have high hopes that these shoes will last for the entire school year, like her others did last year. If that’s the case, I’ll look on it as a good investment.
Tips for a stress-free school uniform shopping experience
If you still need to buy some sat minute bits and pieces for school, or even if you’ve already got it sorted this year (gold star for you!), here are my tips to bear in mind when it comes to making school uniform shopping as stress-free as possible:
- Think ahead. Buy any expensive items like bulky winter coats when there are sales on.
- If you need any branded items of school uniform, think ahead. Sorting these pieces out early is likely to save you a world of pain later on. What I should have done is buy these items in bigger sizes from the mobile school uniform shop that visits Olivia’s school at the end of the summer term.
- The internet is your friend. Use it to search for the generic items of school uniform.
- Look out for stores that offer deals on their back-to-school ranges. These may be available online or just in-store, but always worth knowing about so that you can weigh up your options.
- If you need to visit any actual, physical shops to buy school uniform, the day and time you choose can be important. The weekends will always be busy so avoid doing it then if you can. Midweek is a good time and the earlier in the day the better.
- If you’re shopping for school shoes, buy a foot measuring gauge so that you can measure your children’s feet at home. This will mean that you can avoid the crowds and buy shoes online. With most websites promising to deliver within a few days, it’s not a bad option.
- If you’d prefer a professional to measure your children’s feet and intend to visit Clarks for the service, call ahead and make an appointment rather than just turn up. This will significantly reduce the amount of time you have to wait to be seen.
Have you got any more tips?