Getting school uniform ready before the summer holidays may seem a bit premature, but it saves last minute panic buying!

This is how the Bug looks today. It’s hot, they have a non-uniform day, and a water fight on the field, so he’s in his coolest new t-shirt. I love this final week of the summer term, with teachers finishing off admin while kids let off steam and have fun after all the hard work. But nonetheless, mean mother that I am, I made him put on his brand new winter uniform trousers and shoes, just so I could show our readers, and get you thinking about adding school uniform to your summer to-do list. You’re welcome.

Common School Uniform Mistakes

Over the years, I’ve made every school uniform mistake in the book, so if you’re venturing in for the first time, here are some tips:

Mistake #1: Leaving it too late.

I know there’s a theory that you shouldn’t buy new uniform until the last minute, in case children grow over the summer. But I’ve fallen foul of that too many times to make the same mistake again. If you’ve ever sat in a uniform shop with bored kids on the 31st August while anguished parents ransack the shelves, only to find the size you need is out of stock, you’ll have come to the same conclusion as us. Go now, before the holiday begins, if you can, when the shops have every size, in every colour, and a hundred different shoe choices – especially vital if you have a girl.

Secondary school uniform is often stricter than primary, but there are still ways to make it affordable

Secondary school uniform

Mistake #2: getting it all in the same shop

Now, GG is a tricky customer. This year she heads to secondary school, where the uniform policy is strict. Which means no more chipped nail polish, and no henna tattoos! We have a blazer and tie purchased from the official uniform shop, the skirt has to be a regulation length, and tights must be worn. But if you shop around, the basics – like skirts, trousers, and shirts – can often be bought from department stores, or even PTA sales, saving you a fair amount.

Might just need to sort out those shoes before September though!

Mistake #3: not trying it on

Talking of shoes, here’s a mistake not to make. GG is growing fast and we’ve gone through shoes especially quickly this summer, so we are waiting till the end of the holiday to buy hers for school Don’t leave it too late though, or you may end up like Alice:

“I once bought Kyd a pair of shoes online, size 4 I think, really pleased with myself as they were a bargain. They turned up and they were that cheap because they were baby sized. It was 3 days before term started…”

If you’re buying online, make sure you leave enough time to exchange anything that doesn’t fit!

Mistake #4: getting the wrong bag

This has been my undoing so many times! I’m out shopping, I see a bag, think “I like that, it will be fine,” and buy it. It never is. It’s too small, she doesn’t like pink any more, Minions was so last year, and so on. This year I sat GG down in front of the laptop, pointed her in the direction of the Debenhams school bags page, and made a cup of tea. And then another one. In all, I think she spent an hour deliberating, before determining that this mi-pac backpack was both large enough for all her new kit, and cool enough to pass the peer pressure test.

Making sure you get the right school bag is an essential part of uniform shopping

It’s sturdy, weather-proof, and has the requisite pockets for storing everything she needs. It also has the advantage of matching her uniform colours. And buying it online saved my feet and my temper as she changed her mind at least 17 times before getting her perfect match!

Mistake #5: not reading the newsletter

And back to those non-uniform days. When your child starts school, it’s natural to be enthusiastic. Don’t try too hard though with the “who looks most like a firework” competition. I went to town and was really impressed with myself until I heard the chilling words “Well, someone got up early!” on the playground. She won. I hid behind a tree. Mind you, publicly winning at parenting, though potentially dangerous, is far less awkward than getting your dates wrong. Write everything down, and double check your diary before the school run, is my advice. As Liz has never forgotten:

“I sent R dressed as the Singing Mermaid for World Book Day a week early! She still hasn’t forgiven me.”

Our school bag was bought using a gift card as part of the Debenhams Back to School campaign. They have a huge selection at affordable prices. All opinion, editorial and images are our own.

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