This week about 10 million children return to school and apparently the combined spend on uniform, stationary, bags, and books will be £1.45 billion.
There are no statistics for how much of that £1.45 billion investment will be lost, damaged or mislaid in the first two weeks, but from experience I would suggest about 20%.
My son returns to school this week and I have been the epitome of all that you would expect from a professional organiser. I have tried to prepare and guard from the last-minute scrabble to school, trying to get ahead as all of us get back to a busy routine. All families and teaching staff have been testing their own systems this week on how to get ready for school and cope with the chaos that can be the first few weeks back.
- Uniform has been bought/brought out from the underbed storage, labelled and hung where my son can access it. Out of season / too big clothes have been stored under his bed in lidded containers. All clothes have been cleaned so there is an empty laundry basket for the first day of term. My work clothes have been prepared and refreshed. My wardrobe has been reviewed so everything is hung or in its place.
- I have noted the days he has packed lunch and made the meal choices online. I have meal planned and even conducted a tiny bit of batch dinner making for the freezer. Cupboards were cleaned and organised, I defrosted the freezer (before the batch baking). I have chopped up some carrot and pepper sticks to use for lunches over the next few days. I have many packs of rolls in the freezer.
- The day before I will put all that he and I need for the next day in the car (all my work items) or by the front door (his PE bag and bag for his lunch box), coat and shoes. I call this my “launch area” and I did not coin the term but have read it somewhere and liked the concept. My bag with phone, keys and papers will be there too. Nothing else is allowed to go in that space, and all I need to do is add lunchboxes from the fridge and we are ready. I put library books to return and uniform I promised to pass on to other parents in that spot too. I am a simple soul and I need to see it as I leave the door if I am to remember it. The evening before I put cereal in the bowls with dishes on top so again we just add milk!
- On the day I set the alarm for about 15 minutes earlier than usual. I am not regimented about this sort of thing, it is just that I know it is going to be a bit unusual to be more in a hurry than we have been over the summer holidays. I also want to take my time with my son, I do not want to be in a huge rush from the playground, so I have planned my day to give more time at the start. He is going to a new classroom and I want to ensure he is not frazzled. We will have time if he wants toast as well in the morning.
We can be kind to each other that morning instead of a frazzled mess. That’s the idea anyway. Lets see how I feel when I have asked him for the 6th time to put on his shoes and by the end of week one his new water bottle has already disappeared!
Jasmine Sleigh is Owner of Change Your Space, based in Devon and Somerset. Find her on Twitter @changeyourspace
Update: I left my son’s sports bag in the boot of the car. Lesson here: we are all human.