In the last few years this has been a fairly simple process for me as I have only needed to top up on the essentials for my eldest daughter who is going into Grade 4. But this year, I needed to start from scratch as my youngest daughter is starting prep.
Here are a few of my tips for pulling together some of those essential back to school items.
It is easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer number and types of lunch boxes available these days. I find it can be a matter of trial and error as it really depends on what types of food your children like to take for their lunch.
For me, my girls enjoy a basic sandwich, fruit and vegetables and a couple of snacks. I have tried given them some more interesting lunches but they just screw up their noses and ask for a sandwich, or sometimes crackers or a wrap. Makes it easy for me I guess!
I find the double-decker Smiggle lunch box is the one that works best for us – it is a great size and has two compartments.
I team it up with one of these Easy Lunchboxes, which has three compartments that allows me to fill them up with a sandwich as well as a couple of fruit/vegetable options. It fits perfectly into the bottom section of the Smiggle lunch box and I just pop a small ice brick on top to keep it all cool.
Easy Lunchboxes mini leak-resistant containers also fit nicely inside the Easy Lunchboxes to stop foods from leaking into the rest of the lunch.
I then use the top section of the Smiggle lunch box to pop in a couple of treats/snacks for recess and lunch.
We have a ridiculous number of drink bottles sitting in one of our kitchen cupboards, so much so we have a whole shelf dedicated just to drink bottles. Needless to say, I did not need to purchase any new drink bottles for school this year as my girls can select from the ones they already have.
My main advice would be to buy one with a wide opening at the top so you can easily clean inside the bottle.
My favourites would be the Smiggle straight drink bottle, Smash large drink bottle (purchased from Kmart), Zak drink bottle with straw (the one with the Minion on it, purchased from Kmart) and the Yarra Valley Water drink bottle with straw (purchased as a school fundraiser).
Where you purchase your uniform from really depends on how strict your school uniform policy is. While I purchase each of my daughters a couple of the official school polo tops with logo, I tend to team them up with other school clothing sourced more cheaply from department stores like Target, Big W and Kmart.
You can purchase shorts or skorts quite cheaply at these stores. I like the Stubbies skorts from Big W the best – my daughter even wears them during winter with a pair of opaque stockings and her black school shoes. Looks quite smart actually!
My daughters also have a couple of school dresses each. I tend to buy these from our school uniform shop, mainly because any profits raised help support the school. However, you can pick these up more cheaply from the department stores if they are just the basic checked navy blue/red/green varieties.
When it comes to pants, I don’t always buy these at the start of the year as my girls tend to only wear them during the cooler months. While they prefer the bootleg pants from the school uniform shop, you can pick up some nicely cut tracksuit pants from Target or Big W throughout the year, particularly leading up to autumn and winter.
Our school’s policy if that they must wear a hat when playing outside in Term 1 and 4. My girls have a wide brimmed hat as well as a slouch hat. I pop the slouch hat in their bag so they always have a hat with them at school, plus it’s usually easier to wear when playing sport.
One great tip is when purchasing a hat for your daughter make sure you try it on when she has her hair tied up in a ponytail, otherwise purchase a size bigger than what she would wear with her hair out.
I tend not to scrimp on school shoes and usually buy good quality, professionally fitted shoes. Last year, I bought a pair of black Ascent Adela Mary Jane shoes from Athlete’s Foot for my eldest daughter and they were the best. Amazingly, she still fits them and they are in great condition when compared to other shoes we have bought in previous years.
That being said, this year I came across leather school shoes in Target and purchased a pair for my youngest daughter. The quality looks comparable to the other ones I bought for eldest daughter last year, so I thought I’d give them a try. I guess only time will tell whether this is a good option.
When it comes to sneakers, I usually purchase them from Target as well – the Fila brand has been quite good for my eldest daughter who still hasn’t worn out the ones purchased for her last year. I did need to shop around a but more for my youngest daughter this year – she is quite tall for her age and already in a size 13. The problem is that most sneakers change from velcro to laces at this size. She’s not confident in tying laces yet so I really wanted her to have velcro sneakers to make life a little easier for her at school. I ended up getting her a similar Fila pair from Payless Shoes.
When forking out so much money on school supplies, it’s really important to label these items well, but this doesn’t need to cost you a fortune.
For clothing, I simply purchase a laundry marker pen and hand write my children’s names on each item of clothing. For lunch boxes, drink bottles and so on I usually order personalised labels for each of my children. I have always purchased mine from Identity Direct, but there are a lot of similar companies out there.
I have never had any issue with these labels wearing out or falling off, so it takes some time to use up all the labels. I would suggest buying more generic labels that don’t feature your child’s favourite cartoon character otherwise you will be stuck with a bunch of labels they don’t want to use anymore when they grow out of that phase (trust me I’ve been there!).
Whether you go with the school issued back pack or purchase one of your own, my advice would be to make sure there is an outside pocket to fit a drink bottle as well as a large external zippered pocket to the main compartment inside.
I also suggest purchasing a couple of bag tags or key rings to help your child easily identify their school bag. This is particularly useful if your child is just starting school.
Art smocks and library bags
I hope these tips have been helpful. Good luck and enjoy the rest of your school holidays, which are going by way too fast!
*This is NOT a sponsored post. All products listed are items that I use and love.