It's easy for parents of school-aged children to be a little overwhelmed this time of year. With only weeks before you can finally get rid of the little blighters again, I mean lovingly send them off to be educated, the to-do list is mounting up. Uniforms, books, technology, backpacks, shoes, stationery, haircuts … have I got it all under control and sorted so the first week of February runs smoothly?
There are many ways to approach this. Most schools have already supplied you, whether you be a first-timer or an old-hand, with the list of requirements. Some schools can be very specific, these shoes from these stores, these books from this supplier, is there a barber somewhere offering short back and sides for a kickback? I wonder.
Let me give you a tip. You can ignore all of it and your child will still be OK. Your principal is not God. (You'd be better off not messing with the mother that runs the canteen.) Your child does not need to wear Clarks Infinity to learn how to read and write. And they can write in a 99¢ exercise book as easily as they can in a more expensive one.
Mind you. There are plenty of time-short parents out there who like this approach. Who has time to shop around for the cheapest glue stick? I know of parents who have been given the option of clicking year 9 on a website and the supplies will be waiting at school when the child arrives in their first week. That works well for some people.
And I'm probably defying the unwritten rules of the uniform shop too when I say, no, you do not need everything they've packed in the kindy starter pack, but your life will be much easier if you just hand over your credit card.
I'll admit, though, I am a stickler for spending money on school shoes. Think about the hours your child spends in them each week. Don't scrimp, if there's any way around it, on school shoes. You get what you pay for, and that goes for everything really.
At the end of the day, if your child is in appropriate clothing (and I don't envy parents of children who aren't required to wear uniforms, that's a whole battle I've never had to face), with a healthy packed lunch, a water bottle and an inquisitive mind, they'll be fine.
What you're better off thinking about is how you can best help your child through the experience of going back to school. How to ask questions, but giving them time to come to you if that's what they need. How to become an involved classroom parent, without becoming ''that'' parent. How to get to know other families in your child's class. How to show your child although you miss them terribly each day now, you're happy they're learning and making new friends.
And most importantly, how to be there for them at the end of the day when they need a cuddle to be reminded they are home.