Thursday, 27 August 2015

Back to School Mum Hacks

A while ago I wrote about my School Run Mum Hacks.  The little things that I do when I've forgotten to read the school newsletter and am too lazy haven't got time to buy fair trade produce/make a World Book Day costume/bring a tombola prize in for the school fair.  This post proved rather popular.

So I'm sitting here with less than a week to go before the children go back to school, thinking that you, my fellow hackers would like a few more handy hints* from me.  This time here are my back to school hacks, because let's face it, writing this is bound to be ten million times more fun than sewing on name tapes**.

If you are a new parent to the school run then I'm sorry, this post isn't for you.  Come back next year when you are as jaded and forgetful about preparing for the new term as the rest of us are.  

For everyone else, let's start with the most important one first:


Despite purchasing half of the Sainsburys/Tesco/Asda back to school range (that's just for my Primary School aged kids),  I still have to buy official school uniform for older children (because for some reason Secondary Schools can't just be happy with an off the peg ensemble) and so I take a few shortcuts.

Gone are the days when I could just buy a £12 blazer from Tesco and sew on the school badge badly. No.  These days the school my teens attend force us to spend £33 a time on a special blazer (not sure what's so special about it, its mabye the extortionate price).

Have you ever wondered why when you see the Year Seven children heading off on their first day of secondary school, they have Blazers that are so long that the sleeves reach down to their fingertips?  You could say that their mums are shopping smart, but no, they are fellow hackers.  Set yourselves up with a large blazer at the start of school then it ensures that at the very most, you only have to buy one other for the whole of their school career.  This in turn means that for the last few weeks of the school holidays you never really need to panic about delivery times for new uniform from the overpriced and understaffed school outfitters website.  I'm not doing it to save money, I do this because I'm lazy.

On the subject of uniform labelling, who has the time or the inclination to do that with less than a week to go?  With over 50 items of uniform to label I prefer to employ a more instant approach.  Prepared mums have special stampers and laundry pens, us hackers have a biro...

I am so over name tapes.


Want to queue on a Sunday morning a week before school starts in an overcrowded shoe shop, with half of the world all vying for the same pair of girls school shoes in an 8 1/2 E?  No, me either.  

Spend a bit of cash on some foot measures and do that bit at home, then order your shoes in to the shop.  This effectively means that when you turn up to have them fitted you can jump to the front of the queue.  It's like some sort of weird shoe shop etiquette being a customer with an order - I have no idea why this makes me more important in the eyes of the staff there, but I'm exploiting it.  This year I was in an out of the shoe shop in ten minutes (with three pairs of kids shoes - go me!).  I may have been £120 lighter for the process, but at least I didn't have to queue.

The path to stealthy shoe shopping

Book bags 

Remember them?  Or did you throw them into the corner of your child's bedroom at the end of last term, just like I did?

Time for a quick tidy up of all the forgotten drawings and unsold Summer Fair raffle tickets.  Then write a few comments in the homework diary about all the reading your children have done over the holidays.  Because you have been reading, haven't you?  Sorted.

Getting everyone up on time

This is quite difficult when nobody wants to go back to school, myself included.  The promise of food is the only way to unite my family in this goal.

What gets teens out of bed quickly?


You could also go for the overly sugary cereal option (remember after 9.00 am the sugar high won't be your problem), the advantage of this means that you can set it up the night before and get the children to help themselves, thus ensuring another five minutes in bed for you. Win/Win.

Getting yourself ready for the first school run

It's inevitable that by the time I've got everyone else ready on the first day of term, I will have no time for myself, because I have had an extra five minutes in bed while they've all been eating breakfast.

How can I stop the world from realising how disorganised I am, and that I can't be arsed to set my alarm clock?

No, I'm not going to put on my gym gear again (that's my original hack, and it works but nobody is going to believe that I'm going for a run on my first few hours of child free time in six weeks - everybody knows it's the time for trashy daytime TV binge watching and coffee).

The chances are that everyone else will be so busy flapping over their own last minute dilemmas that they won't notice your completely un-ironed just out of the laundry basket clothes or lack of makeup.  This is probably the one day of the year that you can get away with this.  Embrace it, and then go back to shoving on your gym gear next week.

The things I can't help with...

Lunch boxes - there is no hack for these that I know of.  Either do them in advance or in a hurry like everyone else does.  Pre-packaged snacks and ready sliced things make this task slightly less painful and reduce the chances of me losing a finger tip or two while trying to slice cheese for sandwiches in my sleep deprived state.

School admin - if you haven't done it now then it is probably too late.  Feel the wrath of the school secretary or have your kids go hungry because you forgot to put in this week's school lunch orders (again).  Sometimes I like to style it out by claiming that because of the volume of emails (which by the way started two weeks before the end of the holidays) they all end up in spam.  This only ends up with the school secretary helpfully sending me duplicate hard copies of everything "just in case". Which means that I've just doubled the school admin pain.  Bollocks.

Forgetting things - you're just going to have to go home and get that PE Kit that you've left in the hallway.  Sorry.  We've all done it.

And there it is.  The realisation that in a few days time I'll be embarking on yet another year of winging it, forgetfulness and hacking my way through the tedium of the school run.

It'll be my eleventh.  You'd think I'd have some sort of long service medal by now, wouldn't you?  But then, I'd only have gone and lost the email.  It's probably in my spam...

* Not handy hints, just admissions of laziness and guilt

** You honestly think I'm going to be sewing on name tapes now??


  1. We are currently waiting on high school jumpers from the rubbish uniform shop as the good uniform shop closed on the recent discovery of the owner's seedy pastimes!

    1. :o That sounds more interesting than any Back to School Hack! ;)

  2. hahaha! This is brilliant! My girl doesn't have to wear a blazer until next year. Year 9! I am going to make sure it lasts until she finishes

    1. At least two sizes too big - you'll thank yourself for doing so - pesky kids growing all the time... ;)


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