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Whilst the summer holidays might seem endless, at some point you will have to face the reality that is the ‘back to school’ rush. It can be a stressful time for any parent making sure uniforms are clean, bags are packed and alarm clocks are set.

As a purveyor of financial wisdom and peddler of insights, the Money Guru is more than happy to lend a hand in this regard. We’ve put together some top tips to ensure that parents up and down the UK aren’t buried in a pile of back to school tasks that threaten to trap them like a freak snow drift.

Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about getting your children back to school, including a list of essential things, how to spread the cost of items you have to buy and many more tips and tricks for navigating the start of term.

When are kids going back to school?

First things first, how long do you have to prepare for sending your children back to school? Each local council should have their own calendar marking off the first day, but it should be around the first or second week of September.

You can find out the set holiday dates for your area using the GOV.UK website here

The earlier you can start getting prepared for the new school year, the better, as you can beat the early rush and be able to enjoy the rest of the summer holiday at your leisure. Ideally, the latest you should think about getting back to school supplies with plenty of time before they are due to go back. This should give you enough time to gather everything together and get your jobs done before the chaos begins!

What will I need to buy?

There are plenty of things that you’ll need to get for the first day back to school, so it’s worth working off a list so you don’t forget any of the basics. Use our handy checklist below:

back to school checklist 2019 image

What will I need to do?

Once you’ve got everything you need from the back to school checklist above, it’s worth thinking about what jobs need to be done before you usher your little ones back through those school gates (or usher them out of bed and onto a bus in the case of a secondary school pupil).

  • Wash and iron uniforms – make sure these are done well in advance so you aren’t left panic-ironing the night before
  • Make lunches – think about planning for the week ahead and batch-making some lunches. Try and separate portions into tupperwares or sandwich bags so they’re easy to take out of the fridge on busy mornings. You can even label the days of the week for extra parent-points
  • Organise lunch money – if your child goes for school dinners instead, make sure you can either separate lunch money into individual bags (small cash bags should do the trick) or deposit money into a under 18s current account instead
  • Pack schoolbags – using the checklist above, you should be able to pack their schoolbag to include the essentials, so they’re fully prepared for their first day back. If they’re a secondary school pupil they might need less help, but will still need some sort of encouragement
  • Fill in permission slips – are there any forms they need to go back with? School trip forms or permission slips are usually the most common at the start of term, so it’s worth getting these signed and delivered well in advance

How to pay for back to school supplies

Trying to pick up everything on the checklist can end up becoming costly, especially if your little one is starting at a new school, or has moved up from primary level to secondary school.

As a parent, it’s worth thinking about the best way to afford all of these new purchases and tactics you can use to spread the cost of so many items. The following financial products might give you a helping hand when you’re trying to afford lots of new items at the start of term:

  • Purchase credit card – the best way to spread the cost of back to school essentials is to use a 0% interest purchase credit card. This will allow you to accumulate your payments onto one card and then pay off the cost slowly over a time period to suit you, without having to pay any interest
  • Overdraftan overdraft can be a low-cost way to spend a little extra during the month, especially if you have the option of a fee-free overdraft. Before you start spending as part of an overdraft, always check the terms of your current account to see how much it will cost to dip into
  • Short-term loan – this isn’t always the most low-cost solution, but if you are struggling to afford back to school extras along with other expenses, a short-term loan could be an option for you. Please note you should only take out a short-term loan if you know you can repay it within the time given – failure to repay can accumulate debt and seriously affect your ability to borrow money in the future

Back to school tips for UK parents

As a parent, it can be a lot of tasks to juggle at once when your child, or children, are going back to school. Making the transition from summer holiday to first day back at school can be a stressful one, which is why we’ve put together a few extra tips to help you avoid pitfalls and make it easier on you (and your little one).

  • Label clothing – all of their nice new uniform, coats and even shoes will look great on the first day back, but there is always the danger of these items going missing if they have to change for P.E. or if another pupil picks up their coat by mistake. You can reduce these losses by at least labelling clothing, so that you can recover misplaced items during the new term
  • Shoe protector – school shoes are likely to get scuffed and damaged during playtimes, so it’s worth protecting them as much as you can so they last longer. Get some shoe protector spray to keep off rain and mud, especially as we’re going into the autumn term
  • Start the morning routine early – instead of making your teenager go cold turkey from lie-ins or forcing your little one to get up at a time they aren’t used to, try getting them up earlier at least a week before they’re due to go back. This will shift their body clock so they don’t find the early wake-up call too disruptive
  • Pack in advance – along with the other tasks listed above, make sure you get all the important stuff done at least a week before they’re due to go back. This will ensure you aren’t rushing around the night before with an iron in one hand and a permission slip in the other. Try and do one important job per day leading up to the day they will be back at school
  • Help plan the new term – if your child or teen normally struggles with organisation, give them a bit of a helping hand. You can help plan their new term and at the same time give them more responsibility, which might include getting them a whiteboard for their room or putting aside a homework space for them to feel more organised
  • Get them excited about school – is your child or teen not looking forward to going back to school? Whilst this will be a common feeling, you might be able to encourage them to look forward to the new term by planning new activities or events to participate in. You can even put aside more time for their favourite hobbies and plan in future days out for them to look forward to