Are you a busy mum whose children have just gone back to school? Then JuggleMum’s Nadine Hill has an essential checklist so you can ensure you have everything under control, as well as a few of her favourite items that she can’t manage without.

My main lifesaver is a good diary to track both my own appointments and reminders and the kids too. The Mum’s Office School Year Diary is excellent as it has dedicated space for me plus up to four children and runs from August 1, 2015 to August 31, 2016 so you get 13 months of planning space. As I have two children, I use the other ‘spare’ columns for my meal planning and appointments, leaving the large main space allowed for ‘Mum’ free to include all my daily tasks.

Personalised TowelNow, what about small children and their school clothes? They will need their name in each item of school clothing so they don’t get mixed up on PE Day. You can use a laundry marker to write their names onto the tags, but customised labels with colour and a logo to go into your child’s clothes and shoes are also available. You could even buy personalised lunchboxes and stationery – the possibilities are endless. This year I bought a personalised towel for each of my children that they can use on holiday but also at school for swimming lessons.

Teenagers are always asking parents for money and an easy way to ensure they spend it on food is to give them a gift card for a food shop. Since my eldest started High School, she doesn’t want to eat breakfast at home, preferring to get something from the school canteen with the rest of her friends. But my daughter also loves to visit Greggs for their meal deals and bacon rolls. Kitting her out with a gift card enables her to have her ‘social’ breakfast with her mates, while not having to carry money with her. The school has a no cash policy so this is a safe way to give her the freedom she wants and I can just top it up when necessary.

Back to school checklist:

** School uniform. Check all uniform including underwear and PE kit to see if you need to replace or get the next size up. If you spot a deal on uniforms and have the space to store it, you may find it worthwhile to buy the next two sizes up so you have plenty of ‘stock’ for when they have a growth spurt mid-year and the stores are no longer full of school clothing.

** Bags and equipment. Check your bags for wear and tear. Kids bags don’t tend to last as long as our adult ones as they scuff them around on their journey to school. Younger kids won’t need any equipment but your tweens and teens may have a list of things they have to get such as stationery, ringbinders and art supplies. This stuff can be expensive so know now what you need so you can spread out the cost by buying one thing a week. If your child has a packed lunch then a nice way to start the new school year is with a new lunchbox.

** Extra curricular activities. Will your child be participating in after-school clubs? How about music lessons? If so ask what equipment they might need now so you can take advantage of deals in the shops such as ‘two for one’ or sales over the summer. All schools provide swimming lessons in either Key Stage One or Key Stage Two. At my son’s school, this will happen in Year 5, so I’ve got him some swim shorts and a towel with his name on, so it doesn’t get mixed up with everyone else’s gear.

** Shoes. Get your child’s feet measured and pick up some school shoes in their new size. School shoes are readily available from shoe shops with a skeleton range at supermarkets all year round, so unlike uniforms which sell out, it’s not necessary to buy these too early.

** Mum’s admin. A new school year often means new sets of friends to keep track of, new teachers, a new lot of INSET days to write down and if your child has moved up a Key Stage, possibly new school start and end times too so it’s important to stay organised. I like the Mum’s Office diary shown above to keep myself in control, but any calendar or diary will help you. Consider your admin needs for the new school year and prepare now. If you need to organise childcare or wraparound care with the new school year then get your facts and information on that now and book your place.

** Finally...have your camera charged and ready. It’s nice to take your child’s photo at the start of the school year before shoes get scuffed and bags get tatty. It’s amazing to compare how much they’ve grown since last year!

Words and images by Nadine Hill

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