August 25, 2021

How to get the kids ready for school

Written by Martin Baxter

An academic year of burst bubbles, homeschooling, and that time when they went back for one whole day after Christmas has been followed by the summer of the staycation. We’ve camped in the garden, pretended the sofa was an aeroplane, and battled the thousands-strong crowds on British beaches to get our slice of summer. Finally, though, the kids are due to go back to school, and this time it’s for good – woohoo!

While we’ll miss our little darlings, we certainly won’t shed any tears over no more home phonics lessons, trying to do our Zoom calls with Paw Patrol on in the background or batting off requests for snacks every 30 seconds. Soon all that will be their teacher’s problem, but first, there’s the little matter of getting them there. The end of the school holidays can be a stressful time for freelancing parents. You’re trying to field projects and clients as well as keep the kids entertained, and adding school preparation on top of that can feel a bit overwhelming. In this blog, we’ll take a run-through of everything you need to think about before September, so that you can send them off with a stress-free wave. So grab one of those biscuits before the little monkeys demolish them all, nurse that lukewarm coffee, and read on.

Get school uniform ready

Sorting out their gear for school is the single biggest headache of any parent’s summer holiday. Do it too early and they’ll grow out of it before September. Do it too late and everything is sold out. Before you head out to the shops, get organised. You want to minimise your time spent in town with a sulking 10-year-old who’d rather be on Minecraft. Get the kids to try on their stuff from last year, see what fits, arrange any hand-me-downs, and then make your shopping list according to what the gaps are. Many schools also have uniform shops where you can buy donated or lost items of uniform for low prices, which is worth considering if you’re trying to save money this year (or simply can’t face dragging them into town). For things like shoe fittings, try and make an appointment in advance so that you can guarantee you’ll be seen and not have to wait all day.

There’s nothing worse than your kid coming home in their first week having lost their expensive new school sweatshirt, so spend an evening making sure everything is labelled clearly with their name. And we mean everything.

Set out the morning routine

Everyone’s school morning routine is different, but the one thing they all have in common is that everything takes at least 15 minutes longer than you’d accounted for. In the interest of getting everyone out the door on time, insist on an early alarm, especially for the first week. Talk through with your kids what the expectation will be in the mornings – what jobs you’ll do and what they’ll be expected to achieve themselves (and by what time!). For younger children, making a visual representation of their routine with a sticker chart for the different steps (getting dressed, brushing teeth) can be a great way to develop their understanding and get them onside. You can help speed the process along by doing preparation together the night before: packing their school bags, laying out their uniform, sorting their PE kit.

Update your availability

If you’ve switched to lower working hours to cover childcare in the holidays, now is a good time to review your availability for September and let your clients know about your new schedule moving forwards. Update your hours and availability on your website and if you’re expecting to have any extra capacity, shout out about it on your social media. It’ll feel good to have projects booked in to look forward to, and it’s something to distract you from how quiet the house will seem once they’re all back in school.

Don’t forget the…

There are lots of small admin jobs related to back-to-school that can easily be forgotten in the rush.

  • How are they getting there? Buy their bus pass or sort out bus money if they need it. If they cycle, give their bike a quick service before the big day.
  • What are they eating? Top up their lunch money if necessary or make sure you add sandwich bits to the weekly shop.
  • Will they be taking part in any activities? Make sure you have their name down for the after-school clubs that they want to join, and that you add any necessary equipment (football boots, art materials) to your shopping list. Breakfast and after-school clubs are in high demand this year so sign up early!

Phew! Only those seventy-zillion steps then and you’ll be waving your darlings off from the doorstep. While you sit and enjoy the silence and hot tea, you might finally have some time to refocus on your freelance business. Make sure you’re prepared too by getting your business insurance sorted. With Dinghy you can buy professional indemnity, public liability and business equipment cover tailored specifically to the needs of freelancers. It only takes about 30 seconds to get a quote online…approximately the same amount of time that it takes before a child asks for a snack after being picked up at the school gate.

About Martin Baxter

Read more blog posts by Martin Baxter


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