The parenting world is divided into two sorts: those who are happy for the kids to go back to school and those who would like the holidays to go on for longer.
Or maybe I am being too simplistic (never!) – perhaps there are three kinds; those who are happy for the kids to go back to school, those who would like the holidays to go on for longer and those who are desperate for the kids to go back to school but claim they are not. They claim they are not because they do not wish to be seen, ever, as ever having a bad time. “Oh the summer holidays were just blisssssssssss,” they cry. “My kids were so relaaaaaaxed we had such great faaaamily time.” Oh do fuck off. I bet they were hunched under the AC their faces lit by the glow of their iPads while you dicked about on Instagram!!!!
Sorry did I say that out loud.
For me, the summer holidays this year SO FAR – IT’S NOT OVER YET have been okay. Mostly because Sam found a cricket camp that he was happy to go to all day, every day. And with Kitty I have just given up. If I take her to a museum or to do something “fun” she just stares at me and says “When can we go home?” so she rolls about the house with me, comes on errands, reads her book And she’s happy. (I think). Some parts have not been okay but other parts, yes, better than the school run and it being a rainy Saturday at 2pm in November. Each year the summer holidays become less and less of an abomination as my children get older.
But, I cannot lie, I love the start of term. Love it. And I start getting excited about new kit around about now.
1 The best thing I have come across for kids in the last six months have been Stikins, which are indelible sticky labels with your kids name on that can be stuck onto anything and they don’t come off. You buy them in sheets of 90 and everything that comes into the house gets a label. I have bought new sheets for AW19 that say Kitty Coren, Sam Coren and just COREN, for charging cables and tupperware and whatever else I find myself having to hotly assert is mine, actually at strangers. Might stick one on Giles.
2 You are probably blessed with school uniform, which means that you don’t have to think for even 2 seconds about what your kids are wearing in the morning; we do not have school uniform which is a total embuggerance in my view. My top tip from a mum friend was to just get everything at Gap. Everything. “Gap is his school uniform”, she said of her son. Her point is really not that everything ought to come from Gap in particular but that you should just get everything from the one place – not a sweater from here and a trouser from there: 4 navy joggers, 5 t-shirts, 2 hoodies, pants, socks, PJs, hats, pick a 30% discount day (which seems to be every day at Gap) and you are done and laughing.
My recent discovery is putting Kitty in stuff from the Gap boys department. I know it sounds weird but if you have a little counter-cultural bug on your hands such as is Kitty, she looks an absolute fool in florals and frills but cool as hell in a t-shirt with NASA written on the front and a pair of leggings. Try it, you might like it. I particularly like this t-shirt and may get one for myself. I also love this Snoopy one.
Sam, of course, will only wear football strips. Full football strips with the socks and everything. This is a uniform of sorts I suppose. And as we head into the very cold weather I make sure I have “skins”, i.e. long-john and roll-neck things from Uniqlo to wear under the kit.
3 Don’t forget about your Bag O’ Shite (see previous post for details. Basically a huge bag-lady bag that you use at pickup to stuff all their shite in so you are not constantly dropping slithery coats and book bags on the way home and shouting FUCK really loudly, thereby worsening your children’s already terrible language. I fancy this one.
4 Another personal note – I wear my car keys round my neck on the school run – I use an old lanyard I found hanging about the place, I’m sure you have something similar.
5 If your children are now at an age where they are coming home from school on their own and even letting themselves in, you might consider if possible getting a Masterkey box. This is a metal box with a combination that you fix near your front door with your front door keys in. Need I say more? Personally I am not a loser or forgetter of keys, but I know that some people, particularly the under-25s, very much are. We have one called Master Key or something but the combination and lever are a bit stiff and if I was going to buy one again, I would get one with a push-button combination like this one.
6 Nit stuff and vitamins. Your children will immediately get headlice and a cold once they are back at school. Get probably 3 nit combs if you don’t already, (so that there is always one to hand) and some plain oil and tea tree oil; of all the headlice-removing actions I’ve tried, just combing, combing, combing and combing again to remove all the little buggers before they have a chance to lay eggs (around day 5 of the life cycle) is the only way to get rid of them.
The poison solutions just aren’t very nice and they don’t guarantee you won’t get an immediate re-infestation. Mix a plain carrier oil like almond with a few drops of tea tree oil, which they hate, and just comb through with a nit comb. You can do this with hair conditioner but it doesn’t half get all bunged up in the comb. The oil combs out quite cleanly, though of course don’t be wearing your best silk dress while you are doing this. I mean the whole things is just a messy palaver whichever way you look at it.
(Sorry I know a lot of you are old hands at this, but I am relatively new to headlice and so some others must be, too).
If you are in the blessed position of being nit-free and would like to remain so, get Nitty Gritty Spray, and this shampoo. Because the annoying thing is that some parents are just not fastidious about headlice – and I know they are not because when I look at some kids at school and the state of their hair I think “If your mum or dad had to put a nit comb through that stack you would have had the whole lot chopped off by now.”
I know that vitamins are divisive. But I say that as long as you are not a slave to them, they are useful. Kitty takes these and Sam in the winter about three times a week has half a Berocca tablet, (in water, obviously), which is the only supplement he will agree to.
How about you? What are you re-stocking for the start of term this year?
Coming soon!!! Essentials for Undergraduates.
Can I also suggest worming treatment. I know a paediatrician who says she gives her children a dose twice a year (one being around when they return to school in autumn) as a preventive measure. Now the chemist I went to refused to sell them to me as a preventative thing so don’t be stupid like me, you must pretend you’re all already crawling with worms. She said they don’t work as a preventative measure. But who am I going to listen to? Her or the paediatrician?
Also try Attach A Tag for children’s clothes.
They look super smart and are a fab alternative to labels. Plus they come with a separate de-attacher (is that a word) so can be re-used.
Original Ginsta says
Oh Esther you really are a tonic. You’ve properly brightened up my day x
What about extremely large sunglasses to hide behind on the school run until three coffees down and capable of speech?
Vitamins are a good shout- and not just for kids! I know two people who’ve been diagnosed with vitamin d deficiency recently and it can make you quite poorly. I think we are all so much more careful in the sun than in the past that we all run the risk of becoming deficient.
sheila birch says
Lovely Sam… such a little boy
The fact that you wear your car keys around your neck is both brilliant and bonkers! I’m totally copying.
I’m with you on the boys department for daughters. My middle one looks seriously cool in the batman/nirvana/NASA t shirts I have bought for her. Oh, and boys PJ’s which always have the best styles especially if you detest pink and live yellow and blue.
I would also take advantage of all the cute stationery in supermarkets that is heavily reduced in the first week of September. Great for unexpected birthday gifts, well done at school rewards, stashing for Christmas or just keeping for yourself.
My eldest started school last week- we live in Scotland- and while I was dreading it for many many reasons and insanely nervous and anxious about this huge milestone of him suddenly spending so much time outside our family home/ my supervision etc. I was also delighted for the holidays to be over because my children had taken it in turns to have chickenpox for the last 3 weeks of the holidays. Hideous torture! If I ever have another child I am 100% having them vaccinated for chickenpox. My children have had it twice each, this better have been the last time. Elaine x
Ps. We have a uniform so it’s not been too bad getting organised, but so many bits! Formal uniform, PE days uniform, outdoor learning uniform, blah blah blah. And all my English friends, mostly Londoners, who saw his 1st day of school photo all replied exactly the same ‘why is he dressed so formally?’ A: I don’t really know.
Twice EACH?!?!?! That is not okay. Maybe get them vaccinated anyway, just to be sure?
Ha! I’m seriously considering it.
I’m in Australia and none of this is immediately relevant to me but I am just thrilled to have you back in my inbox Esther! I love reading whatever you want to write about, and the comments are always entertaining as well. Thank you for creating this brilliant space. x
Rachel I am so tickled by the thought of you reading through quite a boring school packing list just for the hell of it x
Me too! No children, no want, but still I read everything because, eg, I am often in the street dropping everything and shouting FUCK really loudly, thereby worsening other people’s children’s language (you’re welcome!).
And lately I have been wondering whether we need nametapes for just us …
Oh, also, I often buy myself trousers in the men’s dept at Gap. The slim fit chinos in green, bought short to roll up, are pretty good on a fairly tall hips-and-bum figure like mine. No so much Snoopy though, dammit.
Helen McGinn says
Yes you did say that out loud and it was bloody hilarious.
We don’t have a uniform and it’s a complete arse. Last year my son wore the same jumper almost every day, which was wool and so manky by the end of the year it could stand up alone. This year, I’ve bought them both a couple of sweatshirts from fat face, and that is their uniform. The trouble with gap is that every other kid in the school is in the same stuff. And shoes from mountain warehouse (they’re waterproof, tough, and there’s not too much choice)
I give mine the Floradix children tonic – absolutely amazing stuff, swear we haven’t had a cold in five years.
does it taste like compost
no, more fruity, bit prune juice esque.