Back to school essentials

Back To School Essentials

Oh September! The time for fresh new beginnings and the excitement of going back to school; not to mention shopping for all of those new school year essentials!

F Scott Fitzgerald once said that ‘life begins all over again when it gets crisp in the fall’ and I’ve always felt that was true. Not only does the new school year start in September, but it also heralds the start of the new season and all the joys of Autumn. The month has a vibe of new beginnings.

One new beginning you might be facing is your child starting school – an emotional and difficult time for most of us parents, but also a time of excitement. I was completely overwhelmed when Lily started school; there were so many things to do and buy and prepare and I forgot about a fair few items too. She’s now about to go into year three and so I *think* I’ve got the back to school prep all figured out now!

If your child is starting school for the first time you might not know where to start, so this list may come in handy. And if you are a bit more experienced with school prep you might find it useful to have a checklist to tick off items against.

School Uniform

This is a pretty obvious one if your child will be attending a uniform-wearing school. It’s important to make sure that you get enough of the uniform to last the term. Particularly as you will find it tough purchasing additional pieces in the shops after September.

I purchase at least five school shirts/blouses for Lily at the start of the school year – uniform gets dirty and damaged so quickly. It’s easy to underestimate how many pieces they will actually go through!

The first year that Lily went to school I bought all of the official school uniform from her school’s preferred supplier however it cost me a fortune and her school cardigans had gone missing within a couple of months. I just can’t justify that kind of expense and so I now buy all of her uniform from Asda – it’s so much cheaper and is really good quality.

School Uniform Essentials


As well as the regular shirts/cardigans and pinafores you need to remember to pick up the right PE kit. Lily’s PE kit changes every term as some terms they take swimming lessons, others they do outdoor athletics etc. Plimsolls and shiny new school shoes plus plenty of vests and tights always make their way into my basket. I find that either Clarkes or Marks and Spencers are the best place to go for long-lasting, good quality school shoes.


A high-quality coat is a must-have! I love the 3-season Storm coat from Muddy Puddles. It is a real versatile piece and suitable for all seasons.

3 season storm explorer jacket

Name Tags

Don’t forget to make sure that you label all of your kid’s school uniform. It’s so easy for pieces to get misplaced and for other kids to pick pieces up by accident. Of course having them named doesn’t guarantee that you’ll get lost pieces back but it does make it easier!

I order ours from MyNameTags – I tend to get the iron on ones as I’m a bit nervous about using the stickers just in case they come off in the wash!

Lunch Box

If your child has a packed lunch then you will definitely need a nice lunch box to transport it in. I use these Sistema lunch boxes with the various compartments as I like being able to separate the types of food. One of these, a water bottle, an ice pack and a brightly coloured lunch bag and you are good to go! I also add a small packet of hand wipes to Lily’s lunch bag so she can clean her face and hands quickly and easily after eating.

sistema School lunchbox



Lily’s school insist on us using the official school bookbags with their logo on. Lily would, of course, much prefer a fun bag to take with her so I do let her choose a fun rucksack for her PE kit to go in. This starry one from Accessorize would be a popular choice of bag I’m sure! If your child is doing swimming lessons remember to buy a bag big enough for their towels and waterproof too!


Depending on the school you may be expected to provide stationery for your child to use. Lily likes to pick herself a pencil case, notepad and some pens (usually impractical sparkly scented ones!). I also make sure she has lots of normal writing pens and pencils to hand. A rubber, sharpener and ruler are great additions – although do expect them to get lost!

School essentials

Something like this Staedtler 31-piece set from Tesco is more than enough for your child’s pencil case.


By the time the bell rings to signal the end of the day your kids will be ‘Staaaaaarving mum’. Whenever I get to do pick-up (not often as I work full time) I make sure I have snacks in my bag. Usually some fruit, raisins or crackers and a bottle of water.


Obviously not for the kids – but trust me after a week of attempting to get them out of the door and in on time. Asking them how their day was or what they got up to, only to get the replies ‘Ok’ and ‘I can’t remember’ you will be grateful for this addition to my list!

Have I missed anything you would say is an essential for the back-to-school checklist?



Back to School Essentials

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  • Reply Becki September 1, 2017 at 3:26 pm

    I always loved the first week of school, and going school shopping. I remember wandering around WH Smiths and picking a new pencil case – it was always so exciting! (I still get this feeling even though it’s been a long, long time since I was at school!!!) My little boy starts primary this time next year – I can’t wait to take him shopping too.

    • Reply bettertogetherhome September 1, 2017 at 7:34 pm

      Me too – I still love shopping for stationery! I’m a nightmare if I’m let loose in Paperchase!

  • Reply Kelly-Anne | Mimi Rose and Me September 1, 2017 at 4:59 pm

    This is a great list to put together for parents. Apart from school shoes, I think we are covered! Haha. Wish me luck for this weekend?

    • Reply bettertogetherhome September 1, 2017 at 7:32 pm

      Thanks Kelly-Anne! Its so tough to remember everything!

  • Reply Becky September 2, 2017 at 11:09 am

    lol I love that alcohol made the list! Geez when you see it all typed out like this there is so much to organize for back to school!! Once you get the labels it’s then hours of sticking & ironing fun. My youngest started Montessori so I had 3 kids stuff to label this year!

    • Reply bettertogetherhome September 2, 2017 at 11:26 am

      Ha alcohol had to make the list – I was being realistic haha! Yep the labels are such a pain but it hopefully means that you’ll actually get missing stuff returned! Oh gosh three!

  • Reply Sinead ( September 2, 2017 at 1:30 pm

    We actually bought that very lunchbox from Systema and it’s the business. The compartments are so handy.

    • Reply bettertogetherhome September 2, 2017 at 3:07 pm

      It’s perfect – we had the same one last year too! Love being able to separate bits 🙂

  • Reply Laura - Dear Bear and Beany September 2, 2017 at 7:41 pm

    Thankfully everything my daughter had last year is still in perfect condition ready for the term, she has only needed new shoes x

    • Reply bettertogetherhome September 2, 2017 at 8:44 pm

      Oh wow that’s lucky! Lily seems to ruin everything ha!

  • Reply rachel September 2, 2017 at 7:49 pm

    I thought i had brought both my kids different school uniform like i’ve done for years and was ready to go until yesterday when i remembered i hadn’t written their names on their uniforms and then i was in Tesco and spotted a guy buying pe jogging bottoms for primary school child and suddenly realised i had completely forgot to buy a pair of pe jogging bottoms for my youngest daughter. After a mass panic i found a pair which are now washed, labelled and packed away in her pe bag! That teaches me not to triple check my school uniform list!

    • Reply bettertogetherhome September 2, 2017 at 8:43 pm

      Oh gosh! Her first year I completely forgot to get PE Kit so Lily had to go in for PE in pj shorts and a t-shirt the first week! I was mortified ha!

  • Reply Jacinta September 2, 2017 at 9:35 pm

    Love your list – I’m proud to say I can tick off all of them. Even the alcohol! I’ve even name tagged everything.

    • Reply bettertogetherhome September 2, 2017 at 9:47 pm

      Ha well done! I opened the wine last night!

  • Reply Amy September 3, 2017 at 8:04 am

    Great post, my son is in year 9 now and as long as he has a new bag and shoes he’s happy, it’s not quite as exciting as it once was! I’m looking forward to when my daughter goes so I can buy all the cute back to school stuff again.

    • Reply bettertogetherhome September 3, 2017 at 9:19 am

      Ha and if he’s anything like my nephew – trousers that aren’t ankle swingers! 🙂

  • Reply Claire September 3, 2017 at 11:10 am

    Great post. My eldest starts school on Wednesday. I thought I’d been dead organised and got everything but realised we forgot white socks! Guess we’ll be hunting some down tomorrow.

    • Reply bettertogetherhome September 3, 2017 at 1:17 pm

      I got some great packets of white socks and underwear in Tesco today – they do big packs of 8 for about £5 so really reasonable!

  • Reply Laura @ Life with Baby Kicks September 3, 2017 at 3:06 pm

    I’d forgotten the excitement of picking your new pencil case!! Mine is only little and just going into reception this Sept, he has his school shoes, we need to pick him a new school bag and he uses a YumBox but other than that….. I’m not ready in the slightest!! His preschool uniform is in the wardrobe ready to be worn again at least (same school)

    • Reply bettertogetherhome September 3, 2017 at 3:14 pm

      Aw it’s so hard sending them into ‘big school’ isn’t it? It took Lily about an hour to choose her pencil case ha!

  • Reply five little doves September 3, 2017 at 8:39 pm

    Fab collection of back to school essentials. My eldest is 13 and yet he was really excited about choosing out his new stationery for the year! I can’t believe that they are back to school tomorrow!

    • Reply bettertogetherhome September 3, 2017 at 8:45 pm

      I feel like this year is just flying past! Thanks lovely 🙂

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