Now that we are at the tail end of the summer school holidays (as you might have guessed by the amount of sibling fighting going on in your house), here are a couple of tips I have found helpful over the school years with my three boys:
Don’t be tempted to buy the school uniform too early! When I helped at my kids’ primary school on Orientation Day in October, I couldn’t believe how many parents bought every item available, even winter clothes. Kids can grow considerably in three months and you end up with too-short pant legs and arms.
The same goes for shoes. The specials might be tempting, but again it is astounding how fast little feet can size up.
Buy at least two school hats. In most schools there are “no hat, no play” rules and nobody wants to miss out.
Our favourite lunch boxes have a hinged lid, so you’ll never lose it. I am very happy to report that they are available from Woolworth or Coles. I used to import them from Switzerland, which was complicated and expensive. These boxes come in different sizes, so you can avoid buying overpriced single-wrapped snacking items. Just put two biscuits in one of the smaller ones and you’ll save the planet from too much packaging. And if you can pack the sandwiches separate from the fruit, you don’t have to use any glad wrap. (Which means it can’t be blown away on the playground. My kids tell me that’s what seals in the ocean get wrapped up in! We definitely do not want that.)
To keep all the boxes in one place use one big container. The best all-year-round ones are those slightly isolated lunch bags with a zipper. The zipper should open on the long side, so you can access all the boxes at once, rather than have to fish them out one by one from the top.
Stock up on lunchboxes (I never thought I would utter the words “stock up”, being an organiser and declutter expert) as you’ll never find the same variety throughout the year. And you will need them. Some kids lose things often. Others just give up in term 3 (the lunchboxes, not the kids). For some reason, lunchboxes and other school items in traditional boys’ colours sell out more quickly than ‘girls’.
Water bottles. There are plenty of types of water bottles out there to choose from. Avoid any softeners in the plastic – you want BPA free. I like the hard plastic ones that are nice and flat. That way the water bottle can act as a cooling pad in summer: Fill it with water up to 2/3 and put it in the freezer overnight. Top it up with water in the morning, otherwise it might not have defrosted enough to be drinkable by the time the lunch break comes.
If your kids like certain fruit, there are specialised containers out there. I found these at “Chalet” but haven’t bought them yet. I am contemplating the green one, because bananas are really hard to transport and are an ideal energy snack. (Plus once they ripen in our garden, I have to feed them to the crowds.)
Reading through this, I realised that there are a couple of tips I can offer to my “no kids” or “older kids” clients.
Maybe one of your New Year’s resolutions was to save money? So, how about starting to take a sandwich or poke bowl from home instead of buying lunch in the city? You’ll likely save yourself a staggering $1500 or more a year.