The disorganised mum’s back-to-school checklist

Suddenly Term 1 is upon us this week. Which means the annual frenzy of getting everything in order ahead of the first day of school... Panic not: The Weekly is here to help with a last-minute checklist to help you through.
Back to school plan

The summer school holidays seem to stretch on forever: first there’s Christmas and New Year’s Eve, then a family holiday, trips to the beach and arranging a carousel of different activities for the kids.

But suddenly Term 1 is upon us this week. Which means the annual frenzy of getting everything in order ahead of the first day of school.

You might realise little Johnny has had a growth spurt, meaning last year’s shirt is on the cusp of becoming a midriff top, while his pants have been rendered 3/4 length pedal-pushers (an okay look for mums, not for eight-year-old boys). And, come to think of it, has he tried on his shoes?

And what, asks an indignant Isabella, about those schoolbooks that I absolutely must have in the first week of term?

Panic not: The Weekly is here to help with a last-minute checklist to help you through.

Stock up at the supermarket

Chances are you’re going there anyway for your groceries (don’t forget extra food for packed lunches this week) so let’s be efficient about this. Most big supermarkets sell all the stationery basics, from pencil cases and exercise books to contact covering, glue and memory sticks. While you’re there, you can get lunchboxes and drink bottles too. Because, let’s face it, last year’s ones got quite a beating. And, come to think of it, are you even sure where they are?

Get new school shoes

If you got new ones mid last year, you might be able to skip this step. Otherwise, get your child to try on their school shoes. If they’re grimacing from the discomfort of wedging feet that have spent the last six weeks growing free-range into last year’s pair, it’s time to go shopping. Plenty of stores sell school shoes but check your child’s size and ring ahead to avoid wasted trips. Although leather shoes don’t need as much “wearing in” as they used to, encourage your child to run around in them for a few hours. Think of it as part of the school re-acclimatisation process.

Clean out the school bag  

You might have been so organised that you did this on the last day of Term 4 when the bag came back full of last year’s masterpieces. Or maybe you half did it. Or maybe there’s still a muesli bar languishing in the front zip pocket. Get your child to locate their bag and clean it out together. A scrub with a soapy cloth will help restore it to its original colour and hanging it on the washing line will air out any lingering odours.

Get online

If you need set texts, have a look at online booksellers. It’s convenient, you are likely to be able to get them at a better price and, if you use express shipping, it’s pretty fast too. For a range of Australian second-hand uniforms, books, musical instruments and sports equipment, try, or

Label everything

It’s annoying and sometimes fiddly but totally worth doing. Because we all know children lose stuff and the only way it will come back is if it has their name on it. If you don’t have pre-ordered labels, get busy with a permanent marker (you can get them at the supermarket too).

Get to school early

Check with your school first but you may be able to buy any needed items from your uniform shop this week before class starts. Chances are you won’t be the only one so leave enough time before the morning bell goes. Get your child to try new clothing on to ensure you get the right fit. And bring that permanent marker.

Finally remember, even if you don’t get everything ticked off in time, it’s not worth getting too stressed about. Week one is short and more about acquainting your child with new classes and teachers and getting back into the swing of the school routine.

You can always finish your last-minute back-to-school blitz at the weekend.

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