A hectic copywriter’s survival guide to the new school year

Back to school essentials

Across the UK, parents are likely breathing a sigh of relief (except for those of you in Scotland, your sigh of relief always comes a little earlier.) As much as we love our kids, there’s no denying that six weeks of pulling out all the stops on the activities front is wearing. I’m fortunate in the sense that my grandparents offer a lot of help. As a result, life as a hectic copywriter can continue.

But, before you know it, your ability to churn out page upon page of text for your clients means that you’re a week away from the new school year. Unless you have every bit of uniform, stationary, and accessories prepared pre-six week holidays, the final week feels a bit manic.

I’m writing this post with the assumption that other copywriters in Wales are facing the same dilemma. Right now, the only piece of uniform I am lacking is my daughter’s school tie. She has a trusty new Vans backpack, a classic Oxford maths stationary set, and numerous HB sketching pencils (purchased on the off chance that she’ll generate some enthusiasm for art in high school.)

If you too are a manic copywriter, here’s how to survive the last few days you have left to scramble for all the essentials:

Create a shortlist of the places that may sell uniforms

When deciding where to purchase uniforms, I used three sources of information: Mumsnet, my mother, and a health care assistant at work. For no good reason whatsoever, my mother is absolutely adamant that Next is the place to go. While I have nothing against Next in principle, I haven’t found that their clothes produce the best fits for today’s pre-teen population.

The pack over at Mumsnet (I lurk on the forums, I don’t dare post there. Please visit AIBU to see why) happily shout that Marks and Spencer is ideal for a few reasons. Mainly, their non-iron shirts really are non-iron, which can save hours of time on the mumming front.

Then, the HCA at work quite proudly declared that she sourced all of her kids’ uniforms from TU at Sainsbury’s. Unfortunately, my own trip to Sainsbury’s resulted in little more than a few pairs of thick navy tights.

What you really need to do is make a list of all the places that sell the correct uniform for your child’s school

Sending your child to a school that demands layer-upon-layer of navy is sort of challenging. While many of the shops listed above supply lots of black and the occasional navy garment for primary school kids, they were seriously lacking in the pre-teen department.

All of the dead ends resulted in me making a list of the various places where I could buy said navy uniforms. Eventually my efforts were split between a couple of sprints around Tesco and the easy shopping experience that always comes with buying from John Lewis.

As for the PE stuff? Hello, Sports Direct. I didn’t bestow my child with any Sports Direct specials (aka Karrimors), but I did indulge in her newfound brand snobbery that makes her gravitate towards Nike. Except for the backpack, that came courtesy of Vans.

Leverage Amazon Prime for rapid delivery back to school essentials

back to school
Your child may or may not need more than a few clips, pins, pencils, and pineapple-shaped rubbers. CC: Designed by Jess at Pixabay

Okay, so the aisles of Tesco and The Range will probably do just as well here. But, on the off chance that you genuinely can’t make it to either between now and the start of the new school year, Amazon Prime is a winner (yes, I am aware that the advertising watchdog is decrying it over here. No, I don’t care, as I’ve never had an issue myself.)

Winning purchases for blossoming year 7s, courtesy of Amazon

As an endlessly busy copywriter, I end up buying a lot of stuff from Amazon anyway. Granted, the prices are usually a smidgen higher than when you pop to Tesco. With that said, I feel as though the slight hike pays off in terms of convenience. For example:

  • No half-hour round trip to a supermarket that will inevitably occur twice because you’re naff at writing lists. As a freelance copywriter, that means I gain an extra hour of earnings.
  • No battle to find the right gear with several screaming children (and occasionally bellowing parents) flanking you.
  • An excuse to add a guilty purchase to your order, such as a new Laura Ashley pen (mine ran out). Nobody is watching, so it doesn’t count.

Some of my favourite back-to-school purchases from Amazon included:

Make a list of the adjustment challenges that may unfold in the week ahead

While the week before children return to school feels manic for everyone, the fun doesn’t end for those of us witnessing the primary to high school transition. Just like when you or I enter a new workplace (less so now that I am a full-time copywriter), they’ll spend the first few weeks finding their little feet. The initial few days is slightly stickier than the rest, as they feel small and daunted. They ain’t the big fish in small ponds anymore.

Try to generate a list of the adjustment challenges ahead. For example, they’ll probably forget to fill in their homework diaries the first few times. In fact, do you need to sign said homework diaries? (My parents had to!)

Also, what about lunchtime? How much money will they need? Is it a cash-based system, or entirely cashless and slick using an electronic card?

My daughter’s school has a swimming pool…which day will she need to pack her costume? Do I need to have a quiet chat about how intimate changing rooms are? You know, just so she’s forewarned.

Should I drive her in for the first week? What will the school bus be like? Effinghell, where does the school bus pick her up from?

Being a freelancing parent confers lots of advantages with the above questions. While I have a heavy workload to meet, I can make the six-mile trip down the road to be by her side if necessary.

For now, I shall embrace the last 72-hours before the madness unfolds. Let’s hope we can get some much-needed beach time in.



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