#LoveYourself · Family · Opinion · Parenting · School

Pyjamas on the School Run

school runUnless you live in a cave with no internet access, you’ll likely have seen the stories all over the news about one headteacher who came out to slam the school run mums who have been wearing their PJ’s for the morning drop-off. She reportedly sent a text to parents stating “have noticed that there has been an increasing tendency for parents to escort children to and from school while still wearing their pyjamas and, on occasion, even slippers. Could I please ask that when you are escorting your children, you take the time to dress appropriately in daywear that is suitable for the weather conditions?”

It’s one of those topics that pops up every now and again, usually in a Mumsnet community thread, where everyone will air their opinions, but for a headteacher to now comment, the debate seems to have been lifted to a new level.

I have a love/hate relationship with the school run. On the one hand, I hate the stresses of getting both girls ready in time, piling them into the car on cold mornings and eventually having to say goodbye to Sausage for six and a half hours, 5 days a week. Having said that, we also get some really nice time together to chat, listen to music and connect for little while, which is something I love. Now that we live further away from school, we have to leave the house at 8am every day in order to beat the traffic and get a parking space within a decent distance of the school, so our school run is over an hour by the time I get back home in the mornings, meaning we have to get up earlier than ever.

I think I speak for a LOT of stay-at-home Mums when I say that getting ME ready in the mornings is an absolute last priority on the list. When you’ve got children who need to be fed, watered, clothed, hair brushed, bags packed, various bits of homework remembered, drinks bottle filled, and myriad other things, being presentable myself is only just about on the radar. If I were going straight to work or out for some important engagement after the school run, things might be different, but if it’s a toss-up between an extra five minutes in bed or putting on mascara, I know which one I’ll choose.

I also feel that, as long as Sausage is cared for and presented to school on time and in order, what the hell does it matter what I look like? I’m not there for a fashion parade and I certainly don’t care what anyone else is wearing. Headteachers are certainly not paid to judge parents unless it’s a matter of welfare for their pupils. I cannot help but think that the headteacher who spoke out did so on a popularly contentious subject knowing that they’d get their five minutes of fame from it all.

Having said all of that, I do think there’s something a little off about pyjamas in the playground. It doesn’t take much to stick on a pair of jeans and a t-shirt, even if you have a shower once you get home. It definitely sends a message to the kids that it’s okay to have low standards – I wouldn’t take Sausage or BB anywhere in their pyjamas but if they were to see me doing it they’d get the impression that it was an okay thing to do.

What do you think? Should teachers keep their opinions to themselves? Are we all just busy mums trying to stay on top of everything? Should we be showing our kids that we value ourselves a little bit more by taking even 5 minutes for ourselves? I’d love to know what you all think so please leave me a comment below.

Kids · School

Making ‘Back to School’ Less Stressful #tipsandtricks

walk to schoolAs we approach the summer holidays, I can feel the stress of the year melting away; we’ve had a good year, all in all, but with SATs and homework and school runs and everything else in between, it’s definitely time for a break. We’ve got a lot of plans for the holidays and are lucky enough to live in a coastal town, so lots of trips to the beach are in order, as well as having both Husband and Sausage’s birthdays to look forward to. However, the ‘back to school’ process is never far from our minds and we thought we’d share a few tips for making the whole thing a little easier, in collaboration with Marks and Spencer.

1. Have an Anthem

Sausage and I listen to music together quite a lot and one of the things that helped her to deal with separation anxiety when she was in Reception class was having our own personal anthem. At the time, we drove to school and we listened to our favourite song every single day, singing along and taking her mind off of things in the process. Choose a song as your anthem, the happier the better (ours was “Let Me Love You” by Ne-Yo!) and sing your hearts out on the way each day.

2. Play Games

Sausage and I are masters of the travelling game and have even invented a few of our own. Eye Spy is always a favourite but we sometimes modify it by playing by colour instead of letter. We also play guess who, the alphabet game and the rhyme game: for the alphabet game, choose a theme (Disney characters is a fave of ours) and name one for each letter of the alphabet.

3. Tell Stories

Telling stories is a great way to distract little ones, and getting them involved in the story is even better. Take it in turns to tell part of the story and their minds will be completely away from any potential school related anxiety.

4. Buddy Up

If you know someone else with kids at the same school and happen to walk a compatible route, why not link up and walk together? The kids will inevitably go off into their own little worlds and will distract each other for long enough for the school run to go by in a flash.

5. Don’t Worry, Be Happy

Often, parental anxiety can really rub off on kids and even without saying anything, you can add to their worries. It may seem easier said than done, but try to be as happy and positive as you can in the mornings, don’t mention any negativity and with any luck, your positive outlook will be what influences their mood.

Do you have any fool-proof tips on how to make the mornings a little easier? We’d love to hear all about them.

Family · School · Shopping

The Cost of Going Back to School

When Sausage started school, we wanted to make sure that she had all of the right stuff that she needed, so we went to the local uniform shop and bought just about everything we could with a school logo on it! We probably went a little over the top, but it was worth it to make sure she had everthing she needed, and to be fair, she’s used everything we bought!

If you’re a parent, you’re well aware of how expensive life can be, and once they get to school age, that cost seems to go way up. BrightHouse have conducted a survey of over 3000 parents of primary, secondary and college age students to see how much they spend, on average, preparing their kids for the school year and the results were surprising – click on the link above to see what they found.

Overall, they estimate that the cost of going back to school was £239, although Primary age kids averaged at just £20, while college kids were the ones splashing the big bucks!

Cost of Going Back to School

Fortunately, the move from Reception class to year one wasn’t as pricey as most of Sausage’s uniform still fitted her and last years’ coat is still a perfect fit, too. Of course, new shoes were a requisite, as scuffed shoes just aren’t mustard, but in general we spent a lot less this year than we did last.

How about you? Did you spend anywhere near £239 when your kids went back to school or were you able to be far more frugal than that? Did you find that buying from supermarkets or larger retailers managed to save you money, rather than buying from specialised uniform shops?

Let me know, and don’t forget to head over to the BrightHouse website to see the full animation.

Family · Fashion and Style · Review · School

Back to School with Clarks Shoes

A few weeks ago, Clarks asked us if we’d like to go along to our nearest store and have Sausage properly measured for her next pair of school shoes, so armed with our £40 voucher we went along to the Southend branch this week to get started with our back to school preparations.

When we got to the store, I was eternally grateful that we’d arranged an appointment – the upper floor where the kids shoes are housed resembled a soft play centre on a rainy day rather than a shoe shop! The assistants were run off of their feet and it whole place had the electric atmosphere that you get when 2 dozen hyperactive children are verging on shopping-induced revolt!

Thankfully, we found a corner to sit in and we didn’t have to wait long for an assistant to come and measure Sausage’s feet. I was impressed with how thorough the measuring process was, having never been to a Clarks before and was pleased to note that they check width as well as length, which I think is really important for feet which are still growing.

Clarks Feet Measuring

Once the lady determined what size Sausage would need (10G, just in case you wondered!), she presented us with boxes of shoes that came in the right size, which was really helpful as it saved Sausage from getting her heart set on something, only to be told that she couldn’t have them.

Eventually, Sausage chose a black patent leather pair, with a velcro strap which would make it easier for her to get them on and off when getting changed for P.E. and swimming. The fitting didn’t end at the measuring though, as the Clarks assistant then put the shoes on Sausage, checked how much space her toes had, checked for space at the heel and even checked to see that the shoe wasn’t too tight on the top of Sausage’s foot. I must say, it was the most thorough shoe fitting I’ve ever seen, and the woman had no idea that we were there for a review, so it’s not like she rolled out any special treatment for us.

Clarks School Shoes

The shoes themselves seem to be very good quality. The sole is thick and sturdy, the strap looks very well attached and the attention to detail on the upper and inner is very pretty – they even have fairies printed on the inside, which Sausage immediately fell in love with! These shoes were £34, which I thought was reasonable for a pair of good-quality shoes.

Clarks Shoes Attention to Detail

Most importantly, Sausage is very comfortable in her new shoes and I think they’re going to last her very well over the coming school year. Thank you, to Clarks, for having us along to pick out some shoes – Sausage is a very happy girl!

Blogging · Family · School

Going Public

A couple of things have happened this week that have made me think about the way I feel about my blog. Firstly, a new work colleague suggested that I add her on Facebook. I post all of my new posts onto both my personal timeline and my blogs page, so if I were to add her on there, she’d become aware of Mum’s the Word fairly quickly. Secondly, I was talking to one of the mums of a girl in Edith’s class and she mentioned that she was friends on Facebook with some of the other mums. Although I was already friends with two other school mums on there, I realised that I was cagey about who I added because of them seeing my blog.

The thing with blogging is, although I’ve now met several other bloggers in real life and consider a few of them to be very good friends, I mostly forget that real people read what I write!

I had a message the other day from some who was in my class at school. She got in touch to let me know that she really enjoys reading my posts and that she felt like she knew me even though we’d not spoken in over ten years. I was so touched that she took the time to make contact and it really made me think about the fact that, even though I’ve been pouring my heart onto a computer screen for the last two and a half years, the thought of people reading your thoughts is quite an abstract concept – until they tell you!

I like to think that this blog is a pretty good representation of me. I’m brutally honest about my thoughts and feelings, probably to my detriment at times, but I find it hard to censor myself for the most part. What’s the point of writing if you’re not being honest? If my writing wasn’t authentic I’d be better off writing fiction, surely? But, when you put your heart on a page, you leave yourself open to a lot of stick.

I think it’s mostly paranoia. I reckon other bloggers would agree that writing a blog is brilliant when people comment on your posts or engage you via social media about something you’ve written. I’ve had debates in my comments that I’ve been thrilled about, even when people are being negative about my opinion on something, but by contrast I have this overwhelming fear that I’ll write a post and then walk into the playground or my office and see people whispering about me or judging me in some way. The stupid thing is, they probably do that anyway, everyone gets judged by their peers, but it’s one thing being judged and it’s quite another to serve up a WEALTH of material for people to judge you on.

I asked in my fave parent blogging group on Facebook whether I should say “screw it” and go public and I had a mixed response. Some said that they have hundreds of co-workers who read their blog and they love it, others blog completely anonymously and wouldn’t have it any other way. Someone also made the VERY cogent point that basically anyone who knows how to Google could find my blog anyway, without very much effort at all.

Basically, I’m in blogging limbo.

Am I right to be scared? What would you do? Perhaps I’m missing a trick and I should be littering my every path with my blogging business cards?! Who knows.