Written by consumer finance author and mother of two, Jody Allen
The new 2018 School Year is soon upon us…
The school holidays seem sooooo long, yet the new 2018 School Year is only really a few weeks away. I have created the ultimate Back to School Checklist on things you should start on now to stress less, pay less and get the kids in ship-shape for the big year ahead!
1. Figure out exactly what you need
The first step is to work out what school supplies you already have. Line up all the stuff your children brought home last year: lunch boxes, backpacks, water bottles, school hats, uniforms, socks and shoes. Figure out what is either too worn out, or too small to be used again this year.
Too worn out goes in the rag bag, but too small can either be handed down the sibling line or donated to charity so someone else can benefit. Once you’ve done this, make a good list of everything that you need to buy to get set up. Make sure the list is clear so that your children won’t be able to push you to make unnecessary purchases.
2. Get Your Back to School shopping done all at once
Although it might seem like a smarter idea for your sanity to break your back-to-school shopping down into manageable chunks, it’s actually better to do all the shopping for supplies at once. That way it’s easier to keep track of how much money you’re spending, as well as how much stuff you’re buying. Doing several trips makes it more likely that you’ll go over budget and buy necessary additional items.
Even better you can outsource your kids’ school book list to Officeworks, who offer a free School List Service where you can upload your kids’ Back to School list online or drop it off in-store, and they will gather all the products and package it up for you, so all you need to do is swing by your local store and collect it.
3. Don’t oversupply
Be careful when you’re doing your shopping that you don’t oversupply your child with school stuff. Check with your school, particularly if this is your child’s first year, about what things the school might supply them with (if any) and what things you absolutely need to purchase. Make a note if they need a diary, and whether it needs to be purchased from the school, how many notebooks they need, contact paper and so on.
Alternatively, when you are doing your Back to School shop, check out retailers who do price matches – Officeworks offers the Parents Price Promise, which means if you find an identical stocked item on a quoted school list at a lower price, Officeworks will beat it by 20 per cent. In fact, when Officeworks compared its prices to the average school book list, itwas nearly one third lower than the average book list supplier.
There are bargains out there you just need to know where to find them!
Most schools would have sent a list late last year. If you have a list, fantastic – if not, check out your local school’s website to see when their office will start back, they will be only too happy to help you out!
4. Refresh the backpack
If you weren’t organised to do this at the end of the last term (and if not we hear ya), then now is the time to empty out the school bag and get it prepped and ready for next year. If your child has worn the bag into the ground, you’ll need a new one, but if not, the bag needs to be emptied and washed. Collect all paper, containers and leftover food from the inside, and give the entire thing a sponge clean, rinse and air in the sun.
Hang it on the line with the bag open for a few days – if it is still a little ‘on the nose’, open a packet of Bicarbonate of Soda (without spilling it) and place it in the bottom of the bag to absorb any odours.
If worse comes to worse and you need a new backpack – you don’t need to break the bank there a plenty of good quality backpacks for around $10.
These backpacks from Officeworks were only $10!!!!!
5. Grab your textbooks now
When you have older kids, you’ll find that they might need textbooks at the start of the new school year. Your school should have sent you a list at the end of the year, or have the information available on the school website or through the office. Check what those books are as soon as possible. The sooner you know, the sooner you can look online for discounted books. The cost of these textbooks adds up, so snap up second-hand copies before other people do.
For discount deals on textbooks, check out the Uniform Shop (some offer second-hand textbooks) or even your local University which sometimes carries high school textbooks.
6. Break out the labels
Ahhhh labels. Children may despise having their name written on every single object they own but parents know that this simple action makes it so much easier to keep track of belongings. Kids misplace things, that’s just how it goes, so label everything that you can including shoes, uniforms, hats, pencil cases, lunch boxes and water bottles. A label with their name and class, or even just their name, gives them a greater chance of being reunited with their things later.
Buy a permanent marker for items like hats (write their name in really big letters under the rim). Hats always go missing.
7. Shop non-perishable school snacks
The next must-tick item in the preparation for school supplies is the big non-perishables shop. If you live near somewhere that offers bulk buying, or your local supermarket has any kind of bulk-buy deal going for non-perishables that your kids eat, get onto it. Think poppers, muesli bars, dried fruit, crackers and cheese and any other pre-packaged recess and lunch snack that will last in the pantry. If you get them now, it’s one less thing to remember to add to your grocery list later!
I really like to buy muesli bars, biscuits and dried fruit in bulk, then put single serves into small ziplock bags. They are then easy to pop into the lunch box (or have your child do it themselves!)
8. Schedule haircuts and trims
Take it from someone whose mother decided the day before school was the best time for haircuts and DON’T get your child’s haircut one day before school is due to begin. I know, you don’t want them to look long and shaggy, but haircuts take time to get used to and getting it cut right before school is just going to increase their back-to-school anxiety. Instead, schedule haircuts or trims a week before school term, to give everyone the time they need to adjust.
More easy back-to-school tips even the disorganised mum can do, next!
9. Start Getting Back into the school routine
To make the slip back into school easier for you and your children, start to move away from your school holiday routine and back into your school term routine. This might mean earlier bedtimes, designated reading times, banning TV after a certain time or whatever else helps keep your kids on track during the term. It might also be a smart idea to start getting them out of bed progressively earlier so that when the first day of school rolls around, you aren’t bodily dragging them out from their beds.
10. Invest in a good family planner/scheduler
Life is busier than ever. And if you add in extra-curricular activities such as sports and music lessons on top of homework – life can easily get overwhelming real quick. I love a large planner that can be on the fridge or somewhere I see every day that has things like:
Being organised is the best way to stress less and this is something you can easily grab during your back to school shop.
11. Put ‘often forgotten’ items near the door
There’s nothing worse than forgetting something you should have at school, and for kids especially, it causes unnecessary stress. One way to avoid this is to stack often forgotten items near the door so they’re impossible to miss. If you have a hall table, put sunscreen, backpacks and hats close to the door so kids have to physically walk past them on their way out. Alternatively, install hooks at the entrance to your house and develop a system where kids hang their school items (hats and bags) as they come in the door.
12. If you don’t know about tech, ask a techy expert
I may work online, but I really don’t know squat about computers. And nowadays once your child gets to late primary school and high school, they are going to need their own laptop. That cost is just another factor on top of all the other Back to School expenses us parents have to fork out. There was a lovely gentleman at Officeworks (that refused to have his photo taken) that was great at explaining exactly what I needed at the best price. So I ended up getting exactly what I needed for only $347! #winning
For those of you shopping online, you can check out the Officeworks Tech Selector – an online tool that helps identify the right technology to meet your individual school requirements. Shopping online also allows you take advantage of payment alternatives such as Afterpay. Afterpay gives parents the option to purchase their school gear online with Officeworks now and pay later! This is especially helpful when purchasing tablets or laptops for your kids
13. Don’t forget about you
For me, having a fancy coffee on the days that are going to be crazy is just the treat I need to get through the day. Allow enough time on the first day of school to get yourself a nice cuppa (or if you are lucky enough to have a fancy coffee machine at home, make one there and take it in a travel cup!). Put on some perfume if you don’t love coffee, or just do something for you! Remember, you are the reason it is all coming together, so look after number one!
How do you get ready for the new school year?