Sunday 23 August 2015

Top picks for Starting School

Somehow the time has come to start getting everything ready for school.  There are only a few weeks left until we have to get out the navy sweatshirt and smart black shoes and send Dylan off to school and I am not feeling ready in the slightest emotionally.  I am trying to make sure that I am physically prepared though, so that all I have to worry about as it gets even closer is the supply of tissues I will need as I leave him in his classroom.


Whilst Dylan will be enjoying school dinners, many children will be taking packed lunches, and Archie will be carrying his lunchbox into nursery.   Here are some of our top picks for lunchtime buys

We know Little Life for their toddler backpacks, but they also make brilliant lunchboxes and bottles. Their animal characters work across the ranges and the lunchbags are easy to carry and insulated.  Archie will be taking his new crocodile lunchbag (£9.99) to nursery packed with all his favourite snacks, and his crocodile bottle (£6.99) will be on hand all day to keep him hydrated.  The straw flips out and it is easy for a toddler to open and close the lid independantly.

Nude Food Movers is an Australian company who make bright and fun lunchbox accessories.  I love the larger box (£5.00 from Asda), which comes with two egg shaped containers one end - great for storing fruit and veg in.  The pink pot (£5.00 from Asda)  has a removable gel insert that can be frozen to keep your food cool all day and comes with a little spoon making it ideal for yoghurts and dips.  The stacking tower is perfect for a child that likes to nibble as each pot is a great size, and they can be used independently too.  We love that there is no waste - everything is reusable which is better for your purse and the environment.

As for what to put in the lunchbox, we love Warburtons new cat and van shaped Thins (£1/£1.25 from Asda and Waitrose).  They make sandwiches more exciting, and the novelty definitely means they get wolfed down faster in my house.  The size and shape is easy for kids to handle and they taste delicious whatever age you are.

The Collective pouches are ideal for lunchboxes as you don't need to send along a spoon.  Their 'Suckies' are yoghurt pouches designed especially for children.  The ingredient list is simple - something that always appeals to me, and with no colours, no artifical flavours or preservatives and only natural sugar from fruit, I think these will be a hit with most parents.  They are a far better option in my opinion than your average yoghurt marketed at children and both my boys just loved them.  Sassy Strawberry was a big hit with Archie and Peach and Apricot for Dylan.  I think these will be ideal for us to meet Dylan at the school gates with- some quick energy and nutrients to get him through until tea time.


One of the biggest purchases for us was school shoes.  Uniform was very standard, especially for boys who don't have a choice of pretty pinafores, but we knew what we wanted with shoes.   It was always going to be Clarks, I still have memories of going there to choose my own shoes and their new option of booking an appointment in advance is fantastic, especially if you are dragging siblings along! I didn't realise how busy back to school shoe shopping would be so I was glad we booked our slot.  Dylan was properly measured and we chose a few pairs to try on before making our choice.  We both agreed on the same ones (£40) this time and they come with a little toy hidden in the sole.  They are real leather so hard wearing and velcro to make sure Dylan can do them himself.  Somehow my just turned four year old is already a size 10.5H!  I wanted to get some pictures of Dylan dressed smartly in his shoes but unfortunately he is too ill at the moment for that - I did manage to get them on his feet though!

The other thing we get to choose for the uniform is a coat.  Starting in September, I know it will be a while before he needs a padded winter coat, but as we will be walking to school every day, something waterproof is ideal.  This jacket from Kozi Kidz (£45) is fleece lined and waterproof and as it is a dark colour it fits in with the school uniform.  I love the look of it and the quality is just fantastic.  It feels much stronger than any other rain coats we have had, and it is definitely built to last.  Their sizes come up very generous and I think we will easily get two years wear out of this, despite us going down a size from what he normally wears.  It is 100% waterproof with a PU coating and comes in other colourways as well as other designs.

At Home

It isn't just about what they take to school, our new routine will be full of things we do at home too, from the washing to the personal care.  These products will be staying in the kitchen and bathroom cupboards but are still a vital part of back to school for us.

I know how badly the boys' clothes get stained already and that is with us avoiding white.  Dressing Dylan in a white polo shirt everyday seems like a recipe for disaster! Oxy Plus stain remover (£1 from Poundshop) will hopefully keep his whites white. Oxy Plus is made by Astonish - a family business in the UK who manufacture in this country and are committed to cruelty free and no testing on animals.  I can see us getting through plenty of this, but at such a great price I don't mind.

Dylan will be taking a water bottle to school every day, and Archie will have his packed lunch boxes, which means extra washing up every evening.  We have Ecover washing up liquid (£1.50 to keep everything clean.  It works just as well as the leading brands, but without the harsh chemicals.  It is kinder on my skin and better for the environment.  It is also cruelty free and not tested on animals.

I know that having long haired boys, we will have headlice to worry about so Vosene Kids shampoo which is headlice repellant and their conditioning defence spray seem perfect to stock up on (£2.49/£3.29, Boots).  They smell sweet and are designed to naturally repel the lice with citronella scents and eucalyptus oil.  We have been using these already and so far haven't had to deal with the dreaded lice, so we will be keeping up this routine when school begins.

The stress of school is likely to take its toll and I want Dylan to stay as healthy as possible.  Biocare have a children's probiotic (£17.20) designed to provide over 2 billion beneficial bacteria in just half a teaspoon.  Hopefully it will keep his gut working well and his body up to the task.  The fact that it is strawberry flavoured is a bonus and it can be added to food and drink.  We will probably make it part of a breakfast routine to get him ready for school in every sense.  I like the fact that it is dairy free and has no colours, flavours or additives as it means even the youngest member of the family can have some once he reaches six months.

And last but not least comes homework.  I know Dylan will be expected to practice what he is learning outside of school and he is already enjoying doing things at home.  We need plenty of paper, pencils and crayons for all that writing practice and I just adore these novelty erasers (£11.95) from 'Not before Tea'.  10 year old Henry is the brains behind this company, writing a book and releasing a children's lifestyle brand just last year.  The erasers are the perfect way to make homework more exciting and they come apart making them great fun for playing with too.  With the brand being designed by a child still in school himself, you know everything is practical as well as appealing.  I know plenty of adult stationery addicts who will be coveting these erasers too!

I am starting to feel like we just may be getting there with the starting school preparations.  There is still a book bag to buy, hair to cut and chicken pox spots to scab over and disappear, but we are getting there!

 Disclaimer:  We were sent the above products for the purpose of this feature 
but all words and photos are completely my own.


  1. All our school purchasing is done now, but I am starting to think about getting the kids back into their bed routines - we've been very relaxed over the summer!

  2. I'm a big fan of Nude Food Movers. We use the stacking pots and the lunch box pictured above.

    Thanks for the tip about the shampoo - will give it a go.

  3. we took our son to Clarks for school shoes, only place to go x

  4. Love the Little Life bottle and bag, plus the star coat is fab. My son would love that.

  5. Those Nude Food Mover pots look really handy to have x

  6. I swear by Vosene on my girls hair to help protect against nits, damn things!

  7. We have been using the vosene for years and year and love it. I also love those little snack pots

  8. There are some wonderful ideas here- especially love the yoghurt pots (because I've been searching for them!), and I do like the coat too. Fortunately (touch wood!) nits hasn't presented yet, and I'm not entirely sure I'm strong enough for them (I recently had a bad dream at the thought!), but it's a thumbs up for Clarks here so Vosene may need to follow suite!

  9. Some great tips and ideas. I love the croc lunchbag - it is so cool. Stephen :o)

  10. My son starts school next week. I'm not sure he realises what is going to hit him!

  11. The snack boxes look perfect. I love the smell of vosene and have used on the kids for ages

  12. The snack boxes look perfect. I love the smell of vosene and have used on the kids for ages

  13. I love the food movers lunchbox, the separate compartments look really useful!

  14. I just adore that coat - it is stunning. I find coat shopping for boys a nightmare

  15. Those nude food snack tubes (almost wrote nude!) are rather handy. I'll be looking out for them.

  16. What some great ideas for everyone going back to school soon! x

  17. My youngest starts next week and I'm really not ready emotionally for being home without any small people around :( Great list

  18. You've covered so much in this post. I'm not looking forward to my kids going back to school but we are almost ready. I do need to get my daughter a new lunch bag/box. I like the look of those Nude Food Movers.

  19. We are going to Clarks tomorrow to get some shoes, they look fab!

  20. Thanks for this post. I'm starting to stress about pre-school shopping for our little boy, even though he isn't starting until January.

    It only seems like a few months ago he was a baby wriggling in a Moses basket. I'll probably feel the same when he's doing A-levels.


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