20/08/2015 06:15 BST | Updated 19/08/2016 06:59 BST

Back to School: the Essentials Countdown

Where has the summer gone?! The new school year starts in just a couple of weeks and I can imagine the mayhem that will erupt unless I put in some proper preparation now.

It feels a shame to cut the six weeks short by readying ourselves now for the school term, but having left it too late in the past, and having been a teacher myself for many years, I know that being a prepared parent makes things much easier.

Here's my ultimate back to school countdown to help get everyone ready.

2 weeks to go

School uniform

It's time for an inventory. What's needed this year? Does everything fit? Does anything need to be mended or replaced? Take stock of what you've got and what's needed. Ask your school for a uniform checklist to ensure you don't miss anything - always remember the non-branded essentials too, such as underwear, socks and hair accessories for the girls.

  • TOP TIP: kids who are off to school for the first time will find the thrill of a new uniform really exciting. It's lovely to include them in the planning and buying process. Plus, if they get to choose the shoes they're more likely to want to put them on when asked in the mornings!

When it comes to the time consuming affair of labeling the uniform, you have several options: sew on, iron on and adhesive labels for shoes, bags and pencil cases. Personally for clothing, I prefer the sew on type, even though it takes longer, the labels won't peel off after a few washes.

1 week to go


Almost all children I know love buying new pens, pencils and pencil cases. They make great gifts too, so if your kids have a birthday over the summer holidays, let relatives know stationary is a good idea!

  • TOP TIP:
Likewise, umbrellas, lunch boxes and drinks bottles are also incredibly useful gifts at this time of year.

Travel passes

If your child catches the bus or train to school, now is the time to sort the travel passes. Jump online or head to the nearest station to purchase tickets in advance.

Packed lunch boxes

If your child doesn't have school dinners, a great packed lunch is one of the most important aspects of their day. Lunchtime can be a stressful time for children as the security of the teacher and classroom disappears and is replaced with a noisy, busy dining room.

A fun, bright lunchbox that's easy to open, lightweight, and carries an interesting combination of foods can make all the difference. Vary the contents and try not to overfill it - especially if your child is a slow eater.

Timetables, calendars and schedules

Even with one week to go it's not unusual to have little idea of what the school term will hold in terms of timetables, activities and after school events. But we can still prepare for it!

Once the class timetables and extra curricular clubs schedules arrive, how you organise your schedule is down to personal preference. I've used whiteboards, blackboards, calendars and the fridge to organise my family.

This year, I've painted a large expanse of wall with blackboard paint and created a grid using tape. It's labeled with the days of the week along the top, and down the side is each child's name. I've created an extra row at the bottom to add in family or 'Mum and Dad' events (like my Monday night yoga class and my husband's work trips). Having the bones of the schedule there means I can update it every Sunday with the week ahead. If I was super organised, I'd have painted it with magnetic blackboard paint so I could have attached forms and school admin bits to each day. Oh well. Next year!

Over on my blog The Toy Hunter, I've continued the planning and preparation with Sunday Night and Every Night check lists. Whiz over there now for more top tips on school preparation.

Have a great start to the new term!

Read the full article on The Toy Hunter.